10 March 2011

My Guest John Baird

My Guest this week is  John Baird author Chasing Shadows – 
John  is also the Chairman of New Writers UK

HH. You are also the Chair of NWUK – what’s that about? 
JB  New Writers UK are a non-profit making group set up to support writers. Most writers’ groups begin and end with the creative writing process. We are different. We are there to help with publishing and marketing. Our members include editors, cover designers and web specialists, together with authors of every genre. Ideas are shared and advice is given via our forum, blog and newsletters. In addition to our online presence we attend and host events where we are able to promote and sell our books.  

New Writer's Book Fair
Nottingham 2010

As the chair I help represent over eighty authors. Some of them have mainstream contracts, some are self-published and others are unpublished. What they share is an understanding that writing is a bumpy road and that you can’t go it alone.

HH. What is your thriller, Chasing Shadows, about?
JB It’s about love, death, betrayal, secrets and fear. Ed Taylor’s life is turned upside down when his father is murdered. Then Ed’s fiancée disappears. Following what few leads he has, Ed heads to Los Angeles, where danger awaits...
HH. Why did you decide to write a thriller?
JB I love writing the type of books I love to read. I want to be gripped, to laugh, to be scared, surprised, and most of all, I need to be entertained. Thrillers tick my boxes.
HH. You’re British, and so is your main character, and yet most of Chasing Shadows is set in the US - why did you choose to set it there?
JB. Partly because most of the books I read are set in the states - I subscribe to the write what you read school of advice as opposed to the write what you know brigade - but mostly, I set my novel in LA because I wanted my hero to be placed in a foreboding, unfamiliar environment. A large city where you don’t know your neighbours but you suspect they have a gun.  

You are hosting a dream dinner party. Which ten people would you invite?
To answer this I’m going to have to exclude everyone I know. You don’t want to hear about my family, and including friends becomes far too political. So here goes:  
My first guest is Edgar Allan Poe’s fictional detective, C. Auguste Dupin, without whom there’d be no Sherlock Holmes, no Poirot, and no mystery writing as we recognise it today. Solving crime with reasoning and logic, who’d have thought?
Raymond Chandler’s PI, Philip Marlowe, is the quintessential wisecracking, hard drinking, tough guy. I picture him as he was played by Humphrey Bogart.     
Next to Marlowe we have Harlan Coben’s crime fighting creation: the former basketball playing, law school graduate and FBI recruit, come sports agent turner private eye, Myron Bolitar. Yes, I know, he sounds contrived, and what’s that name all about? But he’s a real character with flaws and a good sense of humour.
Writing funny is writing well. Every word counts. That said it is possible to write great jokes but not be funny yourself. You see, some people can write a joke, some can tell a joke and others are blessed with a quick wit. Groucho Marx has the full set.
FYI If you enjoy a good autobiography then look no further than Groucho and Me. 
Sir David Attenborough – A naturalist par excellence. 
My favourite writer in any genre, Woody Allen.
Michael Moore is a modern day voice for the voiceless, and he looks like he enjoys a good meal.  
My next guest wore green and has done more than any man to put my hometown of Nottingham on the map. No, not Robin Hood, Brain Clough.  
I would invite Gerbert of Aurillac to help with the research of my next novel. He studied in a region of Spain bordered by two superpowers, one Christian, one Muslim, and became the most learned man in Europe. His knowledge of science was so ahead of its time that many accused him of obtaining it through supernatural means. News of Gerbert’s brilliance reached Rome and he was summoned to tutor the Emperor’s son. When Gerbert’s teenage pupil became the Emperor himself (Otto III) he had to elect a new Pope and chose Gerbert (in 999). The people rebelled. It was said that the Pope was an Arabian sorcerer and that he owned a talking head that gave him the answers to mathematical problems. Gerbert was forced to flee. He had taken the name Sylvester II but would later be known as the mathematical pope.

Sorry about that I got carried away, must be time for supper.
So far I have chosen three dead guests, three that are alive and three works of fiction. In which of these categories you choose to place my final guest is entirely up to you. Take a seat, Jesus Christ. More wine anyone?
Looking around the table I see only male faces. I hope this says more about history and opportunity than it does about me. To avoid calls of misogyny, let me put that right. Here’s my alternate list. Any ten of the following guests would make for a great dinner party:

Tina Fey, Miriam Margolyes, Caroline Ahern, Joan Rivers, Linda Smith, Liz Smith, Miranda Hart, Mary Higgins Clark, Karin Slaughter, Annie Lennox, Emma Thompson, Diane Keaton, Ruby Wax, Pink, Billie Jean King, Perri Shakes Drayton, Daisy Donavan, Queen Elizabeth, Harper Lee.

New Writers
Thanks John!
Visit   John's website John on Facebook  John's Blog
and Twitter@JohnBairdAuthor

And Please visit the  New Writers Website and Blog where you’ll find information
on all of members and their novels.

 Next Guest:  24th March - we turn pirate with
Under the Black Flag


  1. Interesting post and a unusual selection of dinner guests. Thanks to John for his work with NWUK.
    I think I subscribe to the same philosophy as him - writing what you like to read whatever the genre. Facts and knowledge can be found out but what makes a good book is the passion and enthusiasm behind it.

  2. Great post.
    A lot of people make up NWUK but it is undoubtedly the hard work of John and Julie before him which gives momentum to the group... so a big thank you to you all.
    It's always interesting to read how other authors approach their genre and why.
    Thanks John and Helen... a great read.

  3. thank you Richard & Catherine -

    Message from John: "Readers might notice that one of my dream dinner guests is Brain Clough. A Freudian slip? Maybe, but Brain suits him so much better than Brian."

    *laugh* just proves the point I'm always banging on about...... proof read & edit!

  4. Margaret GillMarch 10, 2011

    Yes I noticed the Brain 'damage' too but that didn't detract from a very interesting post. I too belong to the 'write what you read' brigade but feel I need to temper it somewhat with a dose of 'write what you know' and invariably choose settings I know reasonably well. Is your vision of LA based purely on literary gleanings?
    Your account of Gerbert of Aurillac was fascinating. I must look him up having never heard of a mathematical Pope before. You may unwittingly have given me a lead for my next book since, no direct connection, but I suddenly remembered my fascination with Kabbalism in 16th century Spain. How much research are you already engaged in for this new book?

  5. Helen, thank you for introducing a very interesting guest and I could not agree with John more, it is a bumpy road and going alone is not advisable. Thankfully, I have a great editor who is keeping me on my toes. Thanks Helen (me editor) and thank you John for sharing some of your thoughts and dinner guests!

  6. Thank you everyone.
    1st prize to Margaret, for noticing the brain damage, or should that be brian damage?

    And I agree with you Margaret, that a dose of ‘write what you know’ is advisable but have you watched the opening round of Mastermind? Other people’s specialist subjects are often boring. Bring on the general knowledge round, I say.
    As for my choice of setting, I have been to Los Angeles and did live in the USA for a time, but the internet was my main source of insight. My second book, set in New York, has been heavily researched (and plotted). Now I just need the time to write the thing.


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