Huge congratulations on winning your Chill Awards, Nick! You must be so happy that your work has been recognised in this way. Now, before we carry on, would you please introduce yourself to my readers, just in case they don’t know you already …
Hi Emma, as you know from my recent blog tour with you, I’m Nick Rippington, an indie author writing UK gangland thrillers. A journalist for nearly 40 years I wrote my first novel Crossing The Whitewash after being made redundant from my job as Welsh Sports Editor of the News of the World at only 48-hours notice. I was on holiday at the time and was never allowed to enter the building again to collect my things after police probing the phone-hacking scandal turned my office into a crime scene.
Out of a job for the first time in my life, I decided I would put some of my know-how to work by writing a novel. I attended courses on how to self-publish, promote and market my work and two years later Crossing hit the streets.
I was delighted with the reviews and comments it attracted and it also won an honorary mention in the genre category of an eBook competition run by the prestigious American magazine Writers’ Digest. That gave me the incentive to carry on and with a few ideas buzzing around my head I began writing Spark Out.
It was originally meant to be a prequel novella of about 20,000 words but I got really into the story, the characters and research and 110,000 words later it was released in July as a full-blown book.
During a five-day free promotion, it hit No.1 in the Amazon contemporary urban fiction (free) charts in the UK and I am delighted it has now been recognised with a Chill With a Book award. Thanks to all the readers who gave it their backing.
So, your book has been awarded with a Chill with a Book Readers’ Award, what inspired you to write this story?
In the first novel in my Boxer Boys series I wrote about two boys growing up on a rough housing estate in east London, battling adversity both at home and on the streets until they grew up and their lives took completely different paths. As I wrote the book, though, I kept asking myself how they had got to this place and what their families had been like before they were even born. It took me back to 1982 and a time I remember well as a rookie journalist living in a freezing bedsit in Stoke-on-Trent and watching the drama of the Falklands War unfold. It was also a time when armed post office robberies were rife and I put the two aspects together, asking myself what would happen if members of the same family were involved in both.
What does the award mean to you?
Everything. We writers have fragile egos. Working alone, you don’t always get the feedback you need to tell you you’re on the right path. As an Indie there are occasions when your sales graph creeps along and reviews dry up. You begin to question your ability, so when readers like those involved with Chill are kind enough to view your work and vote for it – not to mention make wonderful comments – it reinforces your self-belief.
What other titles have you published? Tell us a little about them …
Crossing The Whitewash is my other fiction novel. It is about Gary, a budding footballer, and Arnie, a tough kid with a father in prison, who become best friends on the Boxers Estate in London. A series of devastating events drive them apart and eight years later Arnie seeks a reunion but his best friend has disappeared. Where is he and why has he erased all traces of his former life? The mysteries unravel, leading to a shocking climax.
Are you working on a new book? Tell me about that …
The new book I am working on is the third in the Boxer Boys series and revisits Arnie and Gary. The story plays out against the background of the Brexit Vote and football’s Euro 2016 championships. It is part gangland thriller, but with a murder mystery whodunnit? thrown in. I’m hoping to finish it within the next year.
When not writing, what can you be found doing?
I love my football and am a dyed-in-the-wool Bristol Rovers supporter who goes to as many games as I can. I have two daughters. Jemma is 35 and has three boys who are like the mini-Krays. With names like Vinnie, Marley and Ronnie I can see them working the door of a Southend nightclub when they grow up. Olivia, my youngest, is seven and has a wide variety of hobbies that keep me busy. She is a good swimmer, loves playing football and attends drama classes. I’m glad to say I have now found work on the Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday and until I can give up the day job it serves to pay the bills.
Which three authors have most influenced your journey to becoming an author?
I don’t think I would be reading, let alone writing books without Ira Levin. My mum introduced me to A Kiss Before Dying when I was bored during the long school holidays because all my friends had gone away. It was a real page turner I couldn’t put down. Since then I have read all his works and particularly love The Boys From Brazil and The Stepford Wives.
John Le Carre is brilliant and I can only dream of striving to be as good as him. The way he weaves a story so intricately is brilliant. It is only at the end the lightbulb comes on and you think “Bloody hell!”
Third, the master of the gangster books, Mario Puzo. He gives you a fantastic insight into the criminal mind. There are plenty more besides but they are my three of the best.
Why did you choose the genre you write in?
I didn’t really choose it, I think it chose me! Crossing The Whitewash began as a comedy and was called Sex and Rucks and Sausage Rolls. I had it critiqued by a published author who ripped it apart but gave me some useful pointers. I’ve known some pretty diverse characters in my life and began weaving them into the story, and the gangland setting began to emerge.
Which other genre would you chose if you had to change?
I’ve dabbled with most things. My editor even suggested I do romance but I don’t think that’s my bag and what if my footie mates found out I was the next Mills and Boon? I wouldn’t mind a crack at Sci-Fi or even a straight forward detective crime thriller.
Quick fire questions …
Twitter or Facebook? Facebook
Tea or coffee? Tea
Marmite – yes or no? Yes
Marvel or DC? Marvel
Early riser or sleep in? Early riser
Pj’s or ‘normal’ clothes when writing? Mixture
Planner or pantser? Bit of both
Book or kindle? Book
Pineapple on pizza – yes or no? NO
And finally … What is your favourite book of all time?
Red Dragon – Thomas Harris
Thank you for joining me today and many congratulations again on your Chill with A Book Award!
Now, here’s the blurb …
Big Mo is about to expand the family business, into armed robbery…
Spark Out is a gritty gangland thriller awarded a Chill With A Book award with readers describing it as “A Fantastic Read”,”Compelling” and with an “Unexpected Twist”.
Maurice ‘Big Mo’ Dolan is prone to headaches and there is one main cause: family. Eldest son Chuck, 7, needs toughening up, wife Beryl is too lenient, his career-criminal father has no respect for him and his younger brother Clive is about to join the army.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, though. With Margaret Thatcher’s government backing initiative and suggesting people get ‘on their bikes’ to find work, Mo believes it is the perfect time to take his crime business to a new level. He believes things can only get better… but with the Falklands War just around the corner they are about to become a whole lot worse…
The second book in the Boxer Boys series, a prequel to Crossing The Whitewash, Spark Out will suit lovers of Martina Cole,
Mark Billingham, Stuart MacBride and Ian Rankin
You can find out more about Nick by following him on the following sites:
facebook author page: facebook.com/buckrippers