My guest post this week is from Matt Bendoris - a journalist, who like many others before him - turned his hand to novel writing. Here's what Matt has to say about how his day job has helped his new ambitions.
I honestly don’t believe I could have written a crime novel without becoming a journalist first.
Why? I’ve actually met and interviewed the bad guys I’m writing about. I have had to quiz a former terrorist leader while his bodyguard sat menacingly nearby.
And I have spent countless hours in the company of Archie ‘Mad Dog’ McCafferty – convicted for four murders in Australia.
Archie once even called me during the middle of a police siege (he was ‘allegedly’ holding family members hostage). I even got to the dubious privileged of hearing him being over-powered by the long arm of the law while on the phone. (Fortunately no one was hurt in the incident!)
The flip side of the coin is I’ve also interviewed First Ministers and the Prime Minister where it’s like a scene straight out of The Thick Of It.
And I’ve witnessed the growing influence of the PRs and agents in the candy floss world of showbiz, where they can make you believe a nasty piece of work is actually a lovely, caring person.
It’s those journalistic experiences that money simply cannot buy.
So I doth my cap to the hundreds of other crime novelists who come from various other backgrounds to write best-sellers.
But I couldn’t have written my book without my nearly quarter of a century working on newspapers in Scotland and London.
Matt Bendoris has been a journalist for 24 years.
He started as a pop columnist for the Glasgow Guardian, before working as a feature writer for The Scottish Sun, followed by The Sun in London (where a once youthful Matt was hired by a once youthful Piers Morgan), The Daily Record and The Mirror in London (when he was hired for a second time by Piers Morgan who was clearly suffering from amnesia).
Matt returned to the Scottish Sun in 1996, where he is currently Chief Feature Writer.
In 2004 he released his first book, a ghost written autobiography of TV stars The Krankies called Fan-Dabi-Dozi, on Blake Publishing. This contained the ground breaking exclusive that the duo had once been wife swappers, which suddenly became a Twitter sensation in 2011 - sadly far too late to help with the book's sales.
While in 2005 he wrote the autobiography Simply Devine for Scottish singer Sydney Devine, on Black& White Publishing, with every national newspaper in Scotland running stories on its more salacious content!
But when Matt’s work relocated to Glasgow city centre in 2007 he began writing his debut crime novel Killing With Confidence on his BlackBerry, which is released in March 2013.
This year will also see the publication of his second crime novel, The Ned Detective, which he co-wrote in a mad, seven week frenzy during 2012.
My thanks to Matt for the post. I've been lucky enough to read Killing With Confidence and can honestly recommend it.
Next week it'll be a post from me and then the week after I'll be posting my interview with Lee Child.
July will see a guest post from Tom Cain and his alter ego David Thomas.
This week, I have a very enlightening post from Ruth Jacobs on researching a very difficult topic.
Research on Prostitution
In the late 1990s, I undertook a dissertation on prostitution. I had been studying criminology, and within that, I was examining female criminal activity, and noticed the lack of females in certain types of crime and their prevalence in prostitution, which in most societies is not a crime, but classed as ‘deviant’ behaviour in sociological terms. I knew the importance of firsthand accounts when undertaking such a project and, being somewhat wayward and spending time in London’s underworld, I had friends who worked as call girls.
Three of my friends generously agreed to be interviewed. And one of those video interviews, which was fully transcribed in 1998, was published on Amazon in 2012. That interview was with a woman referred to as Q. She was one of my closest friends at that time in my life. As she is no longer alive, all the royalties from that short publication, In Her Own Words... Interview with a London Call Girl, are donated to Beyond the Streets, a charity working to end sexual exploitation.
Because Q and I were so close, I am sure that is what enabled her to be completely open in her interview with me. She spoke freely and without inhibition about her feelings on all aspects of her life in prostitution, from working as a call girl, as she was at that time, back to the days she first entered prostitution at fifteen years of age, forced by a pimp to work the streets. She said how she felt raped by those clients. But those men were not clients. Children do not have clients. Those men were child rapists. And daily, she was raped.
The other two women I interviewed, referred to as R and S, were also good friends of mine, but we were not as close as Q and I were. I knew much about their lives already, having spent a great deal of time with them as friends. One of them used to smoke crack with her clients in a room in her flat while her baby was asleep in the other room. She ended up losing custody of her child. But both R and S were guarded in their interviews. And because I knew them, it was painfully clear they putting on as much of a front as they could muster. The missing information wasn’t mentioned in my dissertation because it was only right to use the words they had shared during their interviews. It would also not have been right to ask leading questions, and the semi-structured interviews were led by what the women were comfortable with sharing.
Having tried for many years to escape my own reality and past trauma, I identified with R and S for their need to hold back, not to face the pain, and even more so in the setting of an interview, rather than us sitting round smoking crack. My dear friend Q, who is longer alive, gave everything she could in her interview. And if you read In Her Own Words... Interview with a London Call, though you will see Q’s pain and torment, there was also far more she had suffered in life than what was disclosed in that interview. She was an angel. The most beautiful soul. And Soul Destruction: Unforgivable is dedicated her.
Soul Destruction: Unforgivable
Enter the bleak existence of a call girl haunted by the atrocities of her childhood. In the spring of 1997, Shelley Hansard is a drug addict with a heroin habit and crack psychosis. Her desirability as a top London call girl is waning.
When her client dies in a suite at The Lanesborough Hotel, Shelley’s complex double-life is blasted deeper into chaos. In her psychotic state, the skills required to keep up her multiple personas are weakening. Amidst her few friends, and what remains of her broken family, she struggles to maintain her wall of lies.
During this tumultuous time, she is presented with an opportunity to take revenge on a client who raped her and her friends. But in her unbalanced state of mind, can she stop a serial rapist?
Soul Destruction: Unforgivable was released 29 April 2013. Available worldwide from all major online retailers in paperback and e-book.
Ruth Jacobs writes a series of novels entitled Soul Destruction, which expose the dark world and the harsh reality of life as a call girl. Her debut novel, Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, is released on 29 April 2013 by Caffeine Nights. Ruth studied prostitution in the late 1990s, which sparked her interest in the subject. She draws on her research and the women she interviewed for inspiration. She also has firsthand experience of many of the topics she writes about such as posttraumatic stress disorder, rape, and drug and alcohol addiction. In addition to her fiction writing, Ruth is also involved in non-fiction for her charity and human rights campaigning work in the areas of anti-sexual exploitation and anti-human trafficking.