1. What’s your name, and where are you from?
Luke. From Nottingham in England.
2. How and where did we meet?
We met in a pub one evening after the London Book Fair. I didn’t know anyone, had already necked about three pints and saw Steve at the bar. It just so happened that I’d just finished reading one of his books and joined his Facebook group, so I recognised him. So, glass in hand, and possibly slurring a little, I introduced myself.
3. Do you remember the first fiction you ever wrote? Could you tell us about it?
I remember writing some short pieces when I was a teenager. Fortunately, I can’t remember what they were about and I’m relatively sure they don’t exist anymore – which is a good thing for the world of literature as they were no doubt classic teenage angst-filled, self-absorbed ramblings. I think I’ve got more fun with age. I hope so anyway.
Fast-forward about fifteen years, in 2017 I started taking writing seriously. Just short stories to start with. Some of these, as with my teenage writing, will never see the light of day, others though have made their way into my novels. One of my early short stories was called ‘The Story of the Himalayan Lamb’ and has formed the basis of my first novel, Kathmandu.
4. When did you know you wanted to write novels?
I’ve always loved stories, but it was travelling through India that made me first want to write my own. I remember clearly, the sun had just risen as we flew across the tarpaulin tint of the slums to land at Mumbai airport. The taxi journey that followed was one of the most incredible of my life. I watched the city unfold like a story. People washing, children playing, chickens, cows, goats, all beside an eight-lane motorway. It’s a trip I’ll never forget. The city was so different from my own and opened my mind to new worlds, new experiences, which I knew I needed to share.
But that was in 2011 and on getting back to the UK I bought a house, got a proper job and forgot about writing all together. Then in 2017 I made the commitment to start writing regularly – almost every day. I knew that if I didn’t find the time somehow, I would never do it. At that point I had no idea how to write a novel, let alone get it out in the world. But I sat down and wrote for about 45 minutes every day, and five months later had a very early draft of my debut novel.
5. What makes a good story, and do you have an example?
For me a good a story must transport the reader somewhere. This could be (as in many of the stories I love) to a different place in the world, or to a world of the past, or a world that never existed. But it’s that transportation that keeps me opening the book again.
6. Do you have a favourite author/novel?
I know this is one of Steven’s favourites too, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. This is a brilliant example of a novel that transports.
Some people say parts of it are true, others say it’s all a load of rubbish, but you know what, I don’t care. It’s a fantastic, emotive, explosive story that takes you across the world to a life you never imagined. It’s beautiful, heart-breaking, poetic and… well it’s just fantastic.
If you’ve not read it drop me an e-mail. I buy a copy every time I see one in charity shops, so I have loads. I even bought one from a bar owner in a Chinese provincial town. I was so surprised to see it on a shelf of Chinese fiction, I just had to have it straight away.
7) What are we working on together?
We’re working on the story of a fearsome young lady called Natalie Kaye. First appearing in Steven’s ‘Shadow of Kailash’ (which is my favourite of his books so far), Natalie was doing some travelling through Asia when she was kidnapped by a group of people traffickers. Bad luck for them as she’s a kick-ass Tae-Kwon-Do black belt, with a ruthless sense of right and wrong and a passion for revenge.
In the first book of our series, Set You Free, she goes home to Sydney but realises that some demons just can’t be escaped. Struggling to fit back into suburban life, Natalie finds herself embroiled in the disappearance of a young girl. Natalie’s sure she saw the girl at the airport and is convinced the police aren’t doing enough. Sure, it’s none of her business, she could just leave the authorities to do their job – but that’s not Natalie’s way at all.
8) Why should people check out our series?
If you love powerful female characters with a cast iron sense of right and wrong, then you’ll love it. Natalie is a woman who never takes no for an answer and fights for good like she has nothing to lose.
As you can probably tell I’ve really enjoyed being part of it.
10) Aside from our collaboration, what other projects are you working on?
I’m currently going through the edits for the second in my Leo Keane series. This one takes place and will be called Hong Kong - that’s right, all the books are named after the places they’re set.
The series follows a guy called Leo who, at the start of the first book, is an out of work journalist, struggling to come to terms with his anxieties and totally dedicated to his girlfriend. The only problem, his girlfriend went missing on a Thai island two years ago and hasn’t been seen since.
11) Where can people find you online?
You can find out all about me, and download a free short story called ‘The Music of the City,’ in which we meet one of the characters from Kathmandu on my website: