Teenagers are being possessed and turning into sadistic murderers. Priests can’t help, nor can psychiatrists. So who is behind the demonic possessions? Jack Nightingale is called in to investigate, and finds his own soul is on the line.
What inspired to write the Jack Nightingale series?
I always loved the Black Magic books of Dennis Wheatley when I was a kid and I’m a huge fan of the Constantine character in the Hellblazer comics (graphic novels as they prefer to be called these days). And I just love supernatural films, especially haunted houses and things that go bump in the night. With the Nightingale series I wanted to explore the supernatural world but with a hero who is very much grounded in reality. The first three books – Nightfall, Midnight and Nightmare – really explain his backstory, how he became the man he is. The next two – Nightshade and Lastnight – explain why he had to leave the UK and the subsequent books will be set mainly in the United States, hence San Francisco Night and New York Night.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read. Read a lot. Read good books and bad books and learn from them both. Write every day if you can. I think though that real writers don’t need advice, not about writing. Real writers will be constantly reading because they love books. And they will be constantly writing because they love to write. You need to find your own voice, you need to write the books that you want to write, or that you feel you have to write, and I don’t believe anyone else should be telling you what sort of books to write or how to write them. I don’t think real writers need advice because real writers are self-motivated to improve their craft. They know what needs to be done! Self-publishing is a different matter, there you do need advice because you have to take care of covers, blurbs, marketing and so on. Google self-publishing guru Joe Konrath and read everything he has to say about self-publishing and you won’t go far wrong!
What books/authors have influenced your writing?
I read pretty much everything by Jack Higgins and Len Deighton before I started writing, but I think I modeled my writing most on Gerald Seymour, who was also a journalist before becoming a thriller writer. I loved all John Le Carre’s books back then, but always felt intimidated by his wonderful prose. I would finish a Le Carre book and feel that I could never write anything as good as that! At least with Gerald Seymour I would think that I had just read a wonderful novel and that one day I might be able to produce something almost as good! In terms of influencing my self-publishing, I have been inspired by self-publishing guru Jake Konrath.
What genre do you consider your book(s)?
The books published by Hodder and Stoughton are thrillers, pure and simple. The Jack Nightingale series – which Hodder and Stoughton originally published but which I now publish myself – are supernatural thrillers, though they sometimes get labelled as occult thrillers, which is fine.
Do you ever experience writer's block?
You know, I don’t think there is such a thing, not if you mean a writer who simply cannot write. Like all writers I sometimes have trouble with a storyline or a section I’m writing, but if that happens I simply switch to writing something else, either a different part of the same work or even a separate piece. I always have half a dozen or so short stories in mind so if a book starts to give me problems I might take a few days off and write one of those instead. But as I’m writing a book I usually have several sections already planned out so blocking doesn’t become an issue. My advice to anyone who does feel that they are blocked is to start trying to write something else, anything, just to start the words flowing again!
Do you write an outline before every book you write?
Sometimes but not always. But I probably have a rough outline in my head when I start to write. A lot depends on how much of the plot has come to me before I start writing. I’m working on a the 13th Spider Shepherd thriller – Dark Forces – at the moment and I have a small index card with two notes scribbled on it, and another half dozen notes at the top of the Word file. That’s all I have by way of an outline. But I probably have three-quarters of the book mapped out in my head and at least six scenes ready to be written. I do think that generally – and especially for a new writer – outlines are a good idea, and the more detailed the better. Personally I find them confining and I prefer to let my plots wander a little and have sub plots develop, but then I have been doing this for a long time!
'Another great thriller from Stephen Leather but this time with a devilish twist!' James Herbert
'Written with panache, and a fine ear for dialogue, Leather manages the collision between the real and the occult with exceptional skill' Daily Mail
‘A stunning masterclass in darkness from a ferocious talent who excels in putting the devil in the details’ Daily Record