Debbi Mack interviews crime writer Iain Parke.
This is the Crime Cafe, your podcasting source of great crime, suspense and thriller writing. I’m your host Debbi Mack. Before I bring on my guest, I’ll just remind you that the Crime Cafe has two eBooks for sale: the nine book box set and the short story anthology. You can find the buy inks for both on my website, debbimack.com under the Crime Cafe link. You can also get a free copy of either book if you become a Patreon supporter. You’ll get that and much more if you support the podcast on Patreon, along with our eternal gratitude for doing so.
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Here’s a link to a PDF copy of the interview.
Debbi: Hi, everyone. Before I introduce my guest, I’ll just mention that my latest novel, Fatal Connections is out now. It’s the second Erica Jensen mystery. And since Erica is a female marine veteran, Veterans Day seemed like a good day to have it released. So, if you like hard-boiled mystery, please check it out. Yes, it’s at all the usual retailers, so do check it out, including Amazon, of course. But with me today is a guy who writes about motorcycle clubs, or as it’s described on his website, Biker Noir. I like that description. You should totally check out his writing sample on his website. It’s really awesome. And with me today then is Iain Parke. Hi, Iain. How are you doing?
Iain Parke: Hi, very well. Thank you. Greetings from across the pond on a fairly grotty November night.
Debbi: It’s kind of grotty around here. It’s not nice, but it’s been raining. Actually, it was kind of nice. It’s cleared up and well, we kind of went from rain to cleared up. So, it was not so bad, really when it comes down to it. [crosstalk]
Iain: Yeah, you can tell you’re talking to someone from England because we’re on to the weather already. I mean that’s all we talk about.
Debbi: That’s all we talk about in Maryland too, that’s interesting. Very, very interesting. I got to tell you though, I noticed you have an MBA and an interesting background, insolvency and business restructuring. So, the fact that you kind of drew on that experience to write a conspiracy thriller as a novel seem to suggest something dire.
Iain: Yeah. I did an MBA and was interested in running businesses, and set out effectively to have a career in running businesses and doing just things in this sort of distressed business space. And I won’t bore you with the career history, but essentially at one point I ended up, I wanted to get a secondment. I was working for PwC, one of the big firms at the time and I wanted to secondment to Canada and I ended up in Tanzania, which just proves my geography is fairly lousy. So, from going to the west coast of Canada to going to East Africa, I ended up sort of running a match factory with about a thousand employees, including 300 ladies putting matches into boxes by hand on the slopes of Kilimanjaro for a year.
And I spent two and a half years out there, doing all sorts of weird and wonderful things, really. And it was a very interesting fish out of water experience; all the sort of cultural shock that you get by going to a very different culture. And I started writing something. I spent a very drunken evening, very drunken New Year’s Day, visiting a friend who had a heart attack on Kilimanjaro, who was working with the local farmers. And during the day I read before we got very drunk on New Year’s Eve, I read John le Carré, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. And the next day with a thumping hangover I read an Iain Banks novel. And I remember sitting there thinking, the le Carré, I was fascinated by how he’d got that atmosphere, the sort of bureaucracy and that.
And then the Iain Banks novel, I was just fascinated by how he’d managed to get such a complicated plot to then all worked through. And I remember, I literally remember sitting there thinking, “Oh, that’s really interesting. Could I do that?” And then I started writing something. And to be honest, to start with, it was really just therapy about being this fish out of water somewhere in East Africa doing all these odd things. And it turned into a sort of political conspiracy novel called The Liquidator. And if anybody’s going on a safari holiday, I just recommend not taking it because you don’t want to be caught with it at customs, guys. But it was just a fascinating thing to do. And I really wrote it for me as a getting something out of my system, almost. And I wrote this thing, and it was 180,000 words long, and it was far too long.
And I came back home and it went in a drawer and I forgot about it for 10 years. Until I was at one stage, I left the company and I had a two-three months of garden leave period where I wasn’t supposed to be working or anything else. So, I took this out of the drawer, I thought well actually, I really ought to finish this. And I sort of rewrote it about two or three times from different viewpoints. And I sent it — I had the great fortune of sending it to my brother. If you are a writer, what you need is somebody rude. I sent it to my brother who was at the time a sub editor on a local newspaper. And I sent in the first three chapters and said, “What do you think of this?”
And about two weeks later came this envelope, and he put a big red line through all of chapter one, and just written ‘please’ on it. And it was just like, take out all this self-indulgent stuff. And eventually it slimmed down, and it ended up being sort of 100,000 words out of 180. And I thought, right, I’m going to — I couldn’t find an agent or anybody who’s interested. So, I decided to self-publish it.
And I thought, right, I’ve got that out of my system. I’ve done it. And I thought, okay, so I’ve done that and I’ve really enjoyed writing it. And I have another career in writing business books to do with the NBA and restructuring, etc. And I’m a sort of published author through traditional means on that. And I just, I’d got into the habit of writing by that stage, so I sat down, what else am I interested in writing about? And I’m a lifelong biker. And I’ve always been interested in sort of the far edge of that scene, if you like. And I was really irritated by the fact that the way bikers tend to be presented in the media tends to be sort of fairly Neanderthal.
I’m a lifelong biker. And I’ve always been interested in sort of the far edge of that scene, if you like. And I was really irritated by the fact that the way bikers tend to be presented in the media tends to be sort of fairly Neanderthal.
You know, you come across them as comedy villains in Clint Eastwood films, etc. And I thought, actually this is — Whatever you think about it, it’s a very serious lifestyle, and people commit to it very seriously and take it very seriously, and deserve to be treated seriously. And so why is no — And actually, to me, it was a fascinating area of life. And I thought why is nobody writing fiction set in that — there’s loads of fiction about the Mafia, and other sort of areas of crime. But why is nobody writing anything about that? And I thought, well, if nobody else is doing it, and there’s this thing about, write what you’d be interested in reading. So, I thought, well, I’ll write about it.
So, I started to write a book, which was about a character called Damage and how he got involved in the sort of biker scene and the choices that led him to make and how that worked out. And it was really just supposed to be a one off story. And I finished that and published it and it started doing quite well. And I had no intention of doing anything more in that scene. I thought I’d go on to do other things. I had loads of other other projects I wanted to do. And then about three or four months after I published it, two of the characters met up in my head for a meeting. And they were off. Yeah, they just started and I was just along for the ride, essentially.
Debbi: For the ride, how appropriate.
Iain: They completely took on and so they started this thing that led to a second book. And I remember talking to somebody who done reviews of the first one. I said, oh by the way, I’ve done a follow up. And they said how the hell have you done that on the basis that you’ve killed off most of the — So, my tip for writing a successful series, don’t kill off all your characters in book one because that’s a fundamental mistake. [crosstalk] Yeah. So, I wrote a second and then I wrote a third and that seemed to finish off a trilogy.
And then that’s turned into another three books which are not, which are other books set within the same world and within the same characters. So, they’re sort of extensions, they cross different aspects. And they become sort of a cult. I have to say that very carefully. But I’ve been referred to as a sort of cult author, which is quite flattering, I have to say. And the first trilogy got picked up to be developed for TV, hasn’t actually been made. So, I’ve been through a whole load of development hell, so I can talk for hours about the TV process for anybody who wants to listen. [crosstalk] No, it’s been a fun ride, I’d have to say so far.
Debbi: Yeah. Yeah, I could definitely talk to you about that, because I know a little bit about that myself. Damage is — [crosstalk]
Iain: It’s a very painful process, isn’t it?
Debbi: Oh, it is, isn’t it? And it’s a very long and complicated process that I don’t think people really appreciate or know about that much. But I do like the name Damage. It just seems to kind of encapsulate a type of character. How did you create this character? Did you draw from experience with particular people?
Iain: Well, a confession time in that Damage was one of my nicknames as a kid. So, I use that. A lot of the names I used in the first book, I mean, there’s a lot of in jokes, essentially, in the first book. And a lot of the names are people that I knew around the biker scene when I was in my teens, 20s, early 30s. And Damage was one of the nicknames that I was given for various reasons. And where it came from, there’s — So, I’ve never been in that type of club. I’ve never been associated to that type of club, I’m just not in that scene. But I knew people who were sort of around it, type thing, and ran across people in that sort of club and have had odd conversations with people. So, I knew — you sort of got a feel for it, if you like.
So, I’ve never been in that type of club. I’ve never been associated to that type of club, I’m just not in that scene. But I knew people who were sort of around it, type thing, and ran across people in that sort of club and have had odd conversations with people. So, I knew — you sort of got a feel for it, if you like.
And being around the sort of the biker scene, there would be events and things you’d go to, and you’d see things that sort of percolated into what’s in a number of the books. So, quite a lot of the books have got things in them, or vignettes, which are real because they are things I saw or friends of mine were involved with that sort of try and anchor it in reality, if you like. And I also somebody — I say I’ve always been fascinated in the area ever since I read Hunter S. Thompson’s book, Hell’s Angels. I’ve always read anything I could find or that came out about it. And so I’ve built up a library of books over the years.
And actually, since I first started writing, there have been a lot more come out. Because a lot of guys who were of an age, if you like, are starting to sort of retire if you like and tell their memoirs. So, there was quite a stage where there wasn’t very much written. So, your research was narrowed to quite a few limited number of books. But the volume of sort of memoirs, and people’s life stories that have been coming out over the past five, six years is at a mushroom, so it’s a bit difficult to keep on top of to be honest.
I say I’ve always been fascinated in the area ever since I read Hunter S. Thompson’s book, Hell’s Angels. I’ve always read anything I could find or that came out about it. And so I’ve built up a library of books over the years.
But what I tried to do was get a — I tried to generate something that felt right, that felt like the way that a group of guys would operate and feel and the sort of way they would interact and the sort of rituals and processes that they will put in place. And I mean, I’ve had some feedback from people in the scene who have gone, you know, nothing like [inaudible 00:14:12]. But I’ve also had quite a bit of feedback that yes, it feels right. It respects the sort of the feel of it and feels authentic. And I can’t really ask for more than that, to be honest. But when somebody comes back and says yes, that feels a sort of authentic feel to it, you know, that’s brilliant. That’s my job done, tick. Thank you very much. I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve.
I tried to generate something that felt right, that felt like the way that a group of guys would operate and feel and the sort of way they would interact and the sort of rituals and processes that they will put in place.
Debbi: Yes, absolutely. I mean, it’s fiction, but at the same time, you want it to feel real. And to do that you got to capture those authentic details. You have to capture the facts as well as create the fiction, right?
Iain: I had a one star review at one stage and I can’t remember which book it was on now. But I had a one star review. And it’s my favorite ever review. Well, no, not my favorite review, but I really like it. Because essentially, it was: I got halfway through this book, before I realized it was fiction. And you know, damn authors, making stuff up. It’s not right. Is it, really? And I thought, yes, thank you very much. I’ll take that. I’ll take that one star review.
Debbi: Yeah, absolutely. That is unique. What is the worst example you can think of the way bikers are misrepresented, and say the best example of the way they are correctly represented?
Iain: The worst? Oh. How long have you got?
Debbi: Something that—
Iain: The thing that really bugged me, I suppose and is the one I keep coming back to is the sort of lazy comedy villain type thing. And the example I would point to really is the Clint Eastwood, Any Which Way But Loose films, where you have a biker club called the Black Widows who are the sort of the bumbling evil incarnate type thing, but, you know, and just keep — If their bikes don’t fall over, in the next 30 seconds something’s gone wrong with the scene to be honest. And that just irritates me because I know a lot of bikers and they are bright guys. And it’s a sort of trope. I mean, it gets through into — It pops up in the Sopranos at one point. And I’ve got a lot of time for the Sopranos as a TV series. But you know, they ran, Tony and Christopher ran across a biker group called the Vipers and basically steal their booze. And it’s a big haha type moment, but it just just irritates me.
The thing that really bugged me, I suppose and is the one I keep coming back to is the sort of lazy comedy villain type thing.
In terms of good represent or presentations of bikers, you might need to leave that with me to have a bit of a think because I struggle a bit to be honest. There are some — I have to say, there are some good documentaries. From back in the 70s, certainly in the UK, on the biker scene, where some journalists took the time to actually get to know and present the guy’s lifestyle in a sort of sensible and sort of non-judgmental way. It didn’t make it look particularly attractive, but it was, at least it seemed to be honest, as an approach type thing. Honesty, I suppose, is all I’m really asking for. It’s not much to ask really.
I have to say, there are some good documentaries. From back in the 70s, certainly in the UK, on the biker scene, where some journalists took the time to actually get to know and present the guy’s lifestyle in a sort of sensible and sort of non-judgmental way.
Debbi: That’s pretty cool. That’s great. Those documentaries, do they go into things like mods and rockers?
Iain: Those particular ones don’t because they were so focused on the clubs. The mod and rocker scene in the UK was a sort of an earlier phenomenon in the early 60s. And actually, I use it in one of the books that isn’t part of the first trilogy, in that I have a plot which involves a guy going to look for somebody who’s disappeared. And the guy who’s disappeared is one of the sort of founding fathers of a club and has a history going back into the mods and rockers period. So, I use that as a way to get in and explore mods and rockers. And one of the things about the mods and rockers, period and how it’s presented is quite, I find it’s quite, again, it’s about myths and tropes. So, the myth is, you have a group called the mods on their scooters, and they all star in a Quadrophenia film and they go down to Brighton. And then there’s a completely separate mob called the rockers who just appear and they have a big punch up and go away again.
So, the myth is, you have a group called the mods on their scooters, and they all star in a Quadrophenia film and they go down to Brighton. And then there’s a completely separate mob called the rockers who just appear and they have a big punch up and go away again.
The reality, if you sort of dive into it is there wasn’t actually that much of that sort of big punch ups, really. And I don’t know about your school days, but when I was at school, and I was in the punk era, in my class, there were some punks. There were some guys who were getting into the early stage of heavy metal. They were the disco kids, they were the New Romantics. We were all in the same class. We all knew each other. We all went to the same parties more or less and we all went — would go to different things. So, it’s not like there was some completely separate tribe of mods and some completely separate private rockers and they never knew each other. You know? They were just all parts of the same milieu. You’d have kids who are mods and kids who were rockers who would know each other, be at school together, etc.
And that whole, just there are two tribes and they’re completely divided, never the twain shall meet, I think is rubbish, frankly. They did meet, they did have relationships, they did know each other. They’d have girlfriends who would swap between one tribe and other boyfriends who’d swap, it’s a more complicated nuanced picture, then mods-rockers fight allows for. And that’s part of what interests me in all of this. It’s the nuances of why people are really doing things and what their relationships are and what their choices are, and how it interacts with their life and kids and family. And people aren’t tropes, they are people, and they’re much more complicated. And that’s what makes them interesting. [crosstalk] Which is a bit of a load to put on a bike, book about bikers.
Debbi: Do you think Hunter Thompson’s book kind of opened the door for all this? Or was there a book before this that did that?
Iain: I think Hunter S. Thompson’s book is the sort of ground zero I think about writing about this subject. There were other people doing bits and pieces of writing about it at the time. So, Tom Wolfe has written bits that pop up in that and his writing about Ken Kesey and that sort of thing. There have been photo books and articles etc. So, Thompson wasn’t alone in writing about the scene. But he created I think, what is the erstone of all the writing that was followed.
But interestingly, there’s a book by George Worthen, who was a sort of contemporary Hell’s Angel at the time. And it sort of reads like the companion — if you read it, it’s sort of the companion piece. So, it’s almost like what was happening when Hunter S. Thompson wasn’t around. So, this Hunter S. Thompson tells you this bit, and then in the background, you’ve got this stuff sort of going on, etc. So, it makes quite an interesting sort of compare and contrast read if you like. But yeah, so, Hunter, if you’re reading anything on this scene, you need to start with Hunter S. Thompson, because everything else will refer to it or back from it.
Debbi: I read the Hunter Thompson’s book on this a long time ago, I got to tell you, and I always thought it was just an amazing book. I was just amazed at what he had done, and how things ended up.
Iain: Yeah. But what you then get into is the degree to which there is then debate about how much of it is reality and how much of it is fiction.
Debbi: Very good question in Hunter Thompson’s case.
Iain: Or fictionalized if you like. So, an opinion is divided, let’s put it that way.
Debbi: Well, he was quite a writer. He was quite a — I don’t know how can I save this nicely — creative fiction or creative nonfiction writer? Let’s put it that way.
Iain: Oh, yes, having read the Hell’s Angels book I mean, I went on to read everything else that was available from him at a time, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. I never managed, really, to get into The Rum Diaries. That was a step too far, I think. But [crosstalk] his fear and loathing stuff was brilliant.
Debbi: Absolutely. I can’t agree with you more. Definitely. Let’s see. What writers inspire you most? What do you like to read? Apart from the biker books.
Iain: Yeah. Well, what riders inspire me and what books I want to read are probably two slightly different things, I suppose. One of the things that inspired me to write Heavy Duty People in the first book was Machiavelli, The Prince. And actually, there’s quite, again, there’s quite an in-joke running through Heavy Duty People in relation to The Prince. If you read the two side by side, there’s some parallels that you’ll see. I’m interested — I read for pleasure. And I also read to understand. So, and by understand I mean to find out things and also to understand how other people write. So, I will read stuff, I will read stuff that I don’t particularly want to read, but just to see how it’s constructed, how the author makes things work.
One of the things that inspired me to write Heavy Duty People in the first book was Machiavelli, The Prince. And actually, there’s quite, again, there’s quite an in-joke running through Heavy Duty People in relation to The Prince.
But I mean, my leisure reading, I suppose, tends to be either fairly heavyweight histories. And if I’m reading fiction, I’ll read things like James Ellroy, I’ll read Robert Harris, again, who I read regularly in terms of how do you do something that works that well? Ian Rankin, to an extent. So, I’m fairly mainstream, I suppose in my reading tastes, in terms of fiction, and then I say quite a lot of fairly heavy history. Again, because I’m interested in people and in how they, how they work, and what they do. And there’s little foibles that come out. Dot, dot, dot.
Debbi: Yeah, yeah, exactly. What are you working on now?
Iain: Well, having done six of these biker books, I have a seventh that I’ve probably been working on for about three, if not four years, and never quite getting to finish. And I’m not sure why. Partly, it’s because I think effectively it would tie up the whole of the series and bring a lot of loose ends together. And I’ve tried writing it about three or four times and keep getting to a point where it sort of breaks down, right, I keep trying to address that. But what I’m doing at the moment is I’ve also started a publishing company.
So, in addition to me writing, I suppose, I’m slightly being distracted by working with other authors and what they are putting out. I mean, I did write another book after the biker series, which was a little sort of conspiracy theory, all about how the British bombed Pearl Harbor in 1940. Or arranged the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. So, if you want to know how that worked, [crosstalk] I’m not going to tell you.
Debbi: Oh, my God.
Iain: Well, again, it was inspired by reading odd bits of history and coming across various little tropes. And you sort of stuck three or four things together and thought, oh, actually, you know that, that makes a sort of logical sense. So, building on about three or four real historical facts I get from where we are now to, yes, the British actually organizing the bombing of Pearl Harbor in order to bring America into the war and save us, which sort of makes a logical sense.
Debbi: It does actually. Isn’t this awesome?
Iain: Yes, so that one’s called best — if anybody wants to read, read that and find their understanding of history turned upside down, that’s called Best of Enemies. So, I’m expecting to create a diplomatic incident between our countries.
Debbi: Well, let’s indeed create an international incident here. All right.
Iain: Well, it’s one way to get some publicity.
Debbi: There you go, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?
Iain: Yeah, yeah. Break up the NATO alliance and get the international incident to generate some coverage for your book. Yeah, I can’t see a problem with that.
Debbi: I could say something here about certain US presidents, but I won’t. I won’t. I won’t.
Iain: Yeah, probably best not to go there.
Debbi: Not doing that. Nope, nope, nope. [crosstalk] Yes.
Iain: So, at the moment my writing has sort of taken a backseat to working with other authors and getting their stuff out. And I, funnily enough, I’ve started writing some bits and pieces this week, during the evenings, so whether they will actually then get me back into the groove of writing, let’s see.
Debbi: Well, I hope so. I hope so because I think that’s a great thing, you know, to write. If you can write, you should write.
Iain: Well, and the thing is, on Facebook, I used to get all this grief on Facebook, because every time I go on Facebook to post something, I get fans, and they come back, what are you doing on Facebook? Why aren’t you chained at the typewriter, getting your next book out? I used to get bollockings from fans for not being sat there writing.
I used to get all this grief on Facebook, because every time I go on Facebook to post something, I get fans, and they come back, what are you doing on Facebook? Why aren’t you chained at the typewriter, getting your next book out? I used to get bollockings from fans for not being sat there writing.
Debbi: Oh, my gosh. That’s kind of like the total opposite of what they tell you. It’s like, oh, be on Facebook so that you can connect with everybody. And you have all your fans saying get off Facebook, and go write something.
Iain: Yeah, don’t connect with me, just get on with writing stuff.
Debbi: Exactly. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you very much. Let’s see. I was going to say what advice would you give to anybody who aspires to get published or publish themselves?
Iain: Get lucky. Get writing and get lucky I think is the honest answer there.
Debbi: Amen to that.
Iain: Yeah, I mean, I’ve — actually, this is a conversation I’ve had with a number of people, let’s say, because we’re now publishers. And you get people, my son or my cousin who is trying to write, could you have a chat with them, that sort of thing. And yeah, my advice is essentially that, get writing because if you don’t write, you’re not a writer, you just need to keep writing and write and write and write. So, get writing, get a rude friend who will go through and say that’s rubbish. Because if you give it to your mum, and she says, it’s fantastic that’s not really helping you. And the third thing is just get lucky because it is such a crapshoot.
And I suppose the fourth thing is get responsible. You, as a writer, are responsible for your own success. You’ve got to make it happen. Whether you’re a published author by a publishing house or not, at the end of the day, it’s your career, you need to make it work. So, you do need to be — And I dread the sort of social media side of it. If I was social I wouldn’t be sitting in my room writing books to be honest. But you do have to engage with an audience and build yourself a fan base and interact with them, etc. So, social media is a necessary evil in this day and age. But you do have to take responsibility for getting out there and selling your stuff. You can’t just hand it over. You can’t just sit there, write something, think I’ve built a better — I’ve written a better mousetrap. The world is going to beat path to my door, hand it to a publisher, the publisher is not going to take your —
You, as a writer, are responsible for your own success. You’ve got to make it happen. Whether you’re a published author by a publishing house or not, at the end of the day, it’s your career, you need to make it work.
On our publishing website, we put a little guide for authors, some tough love thing, essentially. And it says you may have this vision that, you know, you write this fantastic book and it’s going to be [inaudible 00:33:04], and you send it off to us as publishers and we just say, yeah, fantastic. We’re going to publish this. And we have a bit of to and fro about the cover and you know, a bit of Barney about that. And then we as publishers assemble our crack sales team of book salesmen in a big hall and stand up on the podium and say, right, we have this wonderful book, you should go out and sell it to all the bookshops. Off you go. And they all go rah, rah, rah rah, and run out to sell your books.
That’s not how it happens. Sorry. You know, it’s a much more difficult process. Bookshops are only going to stock your book, if there is an audience they think is going to buy it. You know, you can’t go to book shops and say, will you take my book and sell it for me? What bookshops want is you selling it, so people come to them to buy it. And one of the interesting things of working with authors as I’m now doing, running a publishing company, is talking to people about how the book selling process works, why people buy books and what they need to do as authors in order to be able to sell.
And one of the interesting things of working with authors as I’m now doing, running a publishing company, is talking to people about how the book selling process works, why people buy books and what they need to do as authors in order to be able to sell.
Debbi: Yeah. This is something everybody should know.
Why did you buy the last book you bought, is one of the questions I’ll ask. And it’s probably because you’ve read something by that author before and you liked it, your mate told you about it and said you really ought to read this because you’ll like it.
Iain: And you sit there and have a conversation. Yeah. Why did you buy the last book you bought, is one of the questions I’ll ask. And it’s probably because you’ve read something by that author before and you liked it, your mate told you about it and said you really ought to read this because you’ll like it. It’s been on the TV, and so it’s a tie-in. It’s written by some celebrity. You know, there’s a whole raft of reasons that people buy books. And you have most of which do not apply to a first time author. You know, so be aware. This is a sort of marathon, not a sprint. So, we have quite a lot of crunchy conversations with authors about what the reality of the life is.
This is a sort of marathon, not a sprint. So, we have quite a lot of crunchy conversations with authors about what the reality of the life is.
Debbi: There is a definite hierarchy in terms of who gets attention, how, also.
Iain: Yeah, yeah, definitely.
Debbi: It’s just undeniable. And it’s a kind of a financial reality for the publishing industry as well, you know?
Iain: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I mean, [crosstalk] we’re publishing and — Yeah, we’re publishing, and frankly, it’s a money pit. So, we have a budget that we set for each book we put out. And, essentially, I mean, from my business background, I treat us as essentially a business incubator. What I’m looking to find is somebody who’s got a good product, in terms of a book, who I think has got the business acumen to get out there and build and develop a career. And what we are doing is we’re coming in to fund that, and give the support to the launch and start of that career, essentially, but they will need to really make it work.
I treat us as essentially a business incubator. What I’m looking to find is somebody who’s got a good product, in terms of a book, who I think has got the business acumen to get out there and build and develop a career.
So, yeah, so we have quite a substantial budget that we put into each book that we are launching, in the full expectation that we will lose all that money because it will sell buggerall copies. And you are funding essentially a portfolio to see, you know, and same with — as a venture capitalist. I’m going to fund 10 things in the full knowledge that six of them are going to completely sell nothing and disappear. Two or three are going to sort of bubble along and make up, eventually get me back my money. And what I’m looking for is the one that becomes a good hit. Because that’s what pays for all the rest. And then you go on to repeat the thing. So, that’s the business — [crosstalk]
Debbi: That is the publishing industry right there. I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Iain: Yeah. Yeah.
Debbi: That’s how publishing works.
Iain: That’s the business model. Yeah, exactly. So, yeah. So, we’re busy putting stuff out and looking for our big hits that makes it all, you know, looking for our equivalent of Harry Potter that makes it all worthwhile.
Debbi: I think that’s fantastic. I think what you’re doing is fantastic. And is there anything else you’d like to say before we finish up?
Iain: Presumably not just buy my book, because that will be dull.
Debbi: Where can people find you online?
Iain: Yeah, yeah. I mean, online, so my personal publishing website for my books is bad-press.co.uk. And that’s where you’ll find my biker books and other books. And then badpress.ink, I-N-K, is our publishing website where we’re publishing other people’s books. And it’s an eclectic mix. There’s some interesting stuff on there from female-led crime fiction, through to sort of fairly comic horror type stuff. So, it’s quirky, and it’s quite niche. And where we’re doing all sorts of interesting stuff. We’ve just published that. Okay. And you think what the hell is that? Forestfriends.ink. And [crosstalk] that has got — Yes.
So, this is a guy who does comic, essentially comic images on the internet. He’s got 400,000 Twitter followers — 400,000 social media followers. So, we’ve put out a collection of his sort of quite weird and wonderful comic images. And that’s one of the sort of weird things that we are doing. And I have to say, it’s great. The publishing side of it is great fun, working with other authors to help make them a success and get them working with each other because we’ve tried to instill a sort of communal ethos so that people promote each other’s stuff. And that’s a really great fun thing to be doing. I was talking to a bookshop owner and she said nobody does anything in publishing for money. Everybody does it for love. And I think if you don’t come into it for love, you are going to get out of it quite quickly.
I was talking to a bookshop owner and she said nobody does anything in publishing for money. Everybody does it for love. And I think if you don’t come into it for love, you are going to get out of it quite quickly.
Debbi: You will be sorely disappointed.
Iain: Obviously, we — Yeah. And we are, I mean, we’re doing this because we are trying to create a viable sustainable business, so it obviously has to make the return, etc. But if we didn’t love it, we wouldn’t do it. I’d find something else to do with my time and money. Thank you very much.
Debbi: So true. Absolutely true. I couldn’t have said it better. That’s great. Well, I think what you’re doing is fantastic, Iain. I just want to thank you for being here so much. Thanks for talking with us.
Iain: Thank you. I was looking at it, and I think, is this show number 141 or something of the series? Congratulations.
Debbi: I shall have to actually count them at some point. We’re in season seven and it’s the 11th episode of season seven, I believe.
Iain: Congratulations on setting this up and getting it going. I have to say again, that’s a labor of love, isn’t it?
Debbi: It is. It truly is and I got to tell you, it is amazing how it has taken off. I’ve got guests booked into 2023. Can you believe that? I don’t believe it. [crosstalk] Hopefully I’ll still be around.
Iain: Long may you run.
Debbi: Well, thank you. Thank you very much and the same to you as well. That’s awesome.
Iain: Cheers. Thank you very much. Cheers.
Debbi: Cheers. Yes, indeed. On that note, I will just switch back to myself and say that remember everybody but the Crime Cafe has two ebooks. The nine-book box set up the short story anthology with contributors from the first season of the Crime Cafe. And when you get your Kindle or whatever device you like for Christmas, keep that in mind as something that you can download. And we are Patreon supported also, I would like to remind you. So, please check out our Patreon page. And with that, I will just say we are taking a short break for the holiday here in this country that celebrates eating a lot, I guess. And our next guest after the short break will be John Gaspard. In the meantime, take care and happy reading.