I am very pleased to welcome Nick Bryan on the blog today.
Nick Bryan is a London-based writer of genre fiction, normally with some blackly comic twist. You can find his blog at NickBryan.Com, or direct links to the entire Hobson & Choi crime series at HobsonAndChoi.com. The first book in the series is free on ebook and the fourth should be out in the latter half of 2016.
He also co-hosts a fortnightly pop culture review/chat podcast called Moderate Fantasy Violence, if you like that sort of thing.
Welcome, Nick. Tell us a little bit about you…
Hi, I’m Nick Bryan and I write the Hobson & Choi series, a dark comedy-drama crime series about a private detective and his work experience kid investigating a series of bizarre mysteries. The books live in a world where killing sprees can be committed by wolves and pub chains can be fronts for organised crime, so literally anyone (or anything) could be the killer. It’s funny, it’s serious, it tries capture the odd feeling of being slightly baffled by a huge modern city.
Your inspiration for The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf?
The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf happened partly because I felt social media was underrepresented in the crime genre – at least, social media handled in a way that resembled reality – and also I needed a good introductory case to bond the team. The combination of murder and social media provided something for both the veteran detective and the teenager to be experts in.
As I’ve said before elsewhere, there was also an early stage where this might’ve been an urban fantasy, and the involvement of an evil wolf is a hangover from that. I kept the wolf to help set the tone for the slightly OTT nature of the crime they’d investigate later.
Combining crime and humour is unusual (in a good way!) – what made you combine the two?
To be honest, I’ve watched and read a lot of crime and felt like I could make the satire work. There’s hundreds of mildly amusing quipping detectives, but not quite so many crime stories which put the satire/gallows humour in the plot as well as the dialogue, and then try to take it all semi-seriously still.
That might make it an offputting read for some – it’s certainly a hard needle to thread when I’m writing it. But I feel like I’ve captured my own taste and sense of humour accurately, if nothing else.
Where and when do you write?
I must admit, my short attention span and high distractability have driven me to do most of my writing in a couple of cafes around my area. I take a small, underpowered netbook that can’t do much other than run Scrivener (just) and type for three or four hours at a time, trying not to read Twitter on my phone too much.
I sometimes try and work in shorter bursts, but it takes so long to settle down and get on with it that I’ve found it best to try and put a whole afternoon aside if possible.
Are you a planner or a pantser?
A bit of both. I like to know where it’s going, at least in broad strokes, as otherwise I could just sit there writing Hobson and Choi having mildly amusing arguments all day without the plot ever advancing. In mystery terms, it’s good to know whodunnit and whytheydunnit, as otherwise you meander away forever, then end up rewriting the whole thing anyway.
But the exact way in which that truth is uncovered usually goes through a few iterations, as well as the addition of red herrings along the way.
Do you do any research?
I read other crime books and Wikipedia. I try not to completely garble police procedure, although my crimes are so wildly implausible that I allow myself a bit of artistic licence.
Do you read inside your genre or out when writing?
I mostly read outside my genre when writing – I’m a big fan of sci-fi/fantasy stuff mostly, although often real world based urban SFF rather than full-on swords and sorcery or spaceships. Enjoy David Mitchell a lot, as well as the Rivers Of London series by Ben Aaranovitch, American Gods by Gaiman or Jonathan Strange And Mister Norell by Suzanna Clark. The Sin Du Jour series by Matt Wallace is a great flavour of serious-silly.
I also enjoy comics, especially the ones that focus on big images and extreme acts of genre blending. Big fan of Preacher and Hellblazer by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, which I suspect have a big influence on my own stuff, along with comics like Chew by Layman/Guillory, Ultimate Spider-Man by Bendis/Bagley and many many others.
Your author heroes?
All the authors I mentioned in the last question, plus Warren Ellis, Joe Abercrombie (one of the only non-urban fantasy authors I truly love) and Christopher Priest, a comics and prose author who is probably one of my biggest early influences. His recent self-published books (especially the 1999 series) are well worth a look.
Thank you, Nick, for joining us today.