Interview with Stephen Leather

When did you first start writing?
As a kid. My uncle was a TV screenwriter and did shows like The Avengers, Department S, Danger Man, Randall and Hopkierk (Deceased). He went on to write a few thrillers, too. I guess I always wanted to be like him. I tried writing fiction at school and again at university but wasn't any good at it. It was only after I'd worked as a journalist for ten years that I had the necessary skills to write a novel. They say that it takes 10,000 hours to acquire any skill and I definitely believe that's true in the case of writing.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
My regular publisher had consistently turned down several of my books, so they languished in my desk drawer and then on various hard drives. When ePublishing came onto the scene I was in the perfect position to take advantage of it. I had a backlist that was already selling well, I had two new books a year being published by Hodder and Stoughton, and I had new novels that I could publish myself. I started self publishing in the summer of 2010 and with six months I had three self-published eBook bestsellers on my hands - Once Bitten, The Basement and Dreamer's Cat. In the first year alone I sold more than half a million eBooks and now my total eBook sales are close to two million.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Hugely - they allow me to get to a whole host of retailers some of which I wouldn't be able to reach as an individual. The Smashwords platform is user-friendly and easy to use and the customer service team are great. They pay on time and direct to my PayPal account, which is brilliant, and I have lots of success with the coupon-issuing program. At the moment Smashwords accounts for about ten per cent of my sales - I hope that continues to grow!
Published 2013-08-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Tracks (A Jack Nightingale Short Story)
By
Series: Jack Nightingale Short Stories. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 11,640. Language: English. Published: December 17, 2014. Category: Fiction » Horror » Occult
Supernatural detective Jack Nightingale is called in to investigate when an old man appears to have been hit by a train on an abandoned railway line. But there hasn't been a train there in more than fifty years. So what killed the old man? As Nightingale investigates, he realises that there are dark forces at work and his own life is on the line.
San Francisco Night (The 6th Jack Nightingale Novel)
By
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 93,570. Language: English. Published: December 22, 2014. Category: Fiction » Horror » Crime
Jack Nightingale fights his battles in the shadows – in the grey areas where the real world meets the supernatural. But when he arrives in San Francisco to take on a group of Satanists bent on opening a doorway to Hell, the danger is out in the open and all too real. This is the sixth book in the Jack Nightingale series.
Spider Shepherd: SAS (Volume 2)
By
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 80,100. Language: British English. Published: December 11, 2014. Category: Fiction » Adventure » War & military
The second volume of six Spider Shepherd short stories in one volume by bestselling author Stephen Leather. The short stories are Personal Protection, The Rope, Planning Pack, Friendly Fire, Dead Drop and Kill Zone and feature Dan "Spider" Shepherd whose adventures have been Sunday Times bestsellers.
Spider Shepherd: SAS (Volume 1)
By
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 77,920. Language: British English. Published: December 12, 2014. Category: Fiction » Adventure » War & military
Six Spider Shepherd short stories in one volume by bestselling author Stephen Leather. The short stories are Hard Targets, Natural Selection, Narrow Escape, Warning Order, Hostile Territory and Rough Diamonds and all feature Dan "Spider" Shepherd whose adventures have been Sunday Times bestsellers.
My Name Is Lydia (A Jack Nightingale Short Story)
By
Series: Jack Nightingale Short Stories. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 9,850. Language: British English. Published: November 29, 2014. Category: Fiction » Horror » Occult
Supernatural detective Jack Nightingale is called in to investigate a young girl who appears to be possessed by an evil spirit. My Name Is Lydia is about 10,000 words, about thirty pages, perfect if you have half an hour to spare.
More Short Fuses (Four Free Short Stories)
By
Price: Free! Words: 48,590. Language: British English. Published: June 17, 2014. Category: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller
Four free short stories from bestselling author Stephen Leather, plus opening chapters of five of his bestselling thrillers. The short stories are: Rules of Engagement (where Spider Shepherd has to help a friend who is in serious trouble with the police), The Constituency Meeting (where a group of old folks decide to commit a murder), Ghost Kids and Massage Therapy.
Blood Bath (Seven Free Jack Nightingale Short Stories)
By
Price: Free! Words: 63,130. Language: English. Published: April 27, 2014. Category: Fiction » Horror » Occult
Supernatural detective Jack Nightingale investigates a spate of mysterious deaths in a struggling hotel. Plus six extra short stories from fans and writers drawing inspiration from the Blood Bath title and cover.
Personal Protection (A Spider Shepherd Short Story)
By
Series: Spider Shepherd Short Stories, Book 6. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 13,250. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: March 12, 2014. Category: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
An action-packed short story featuring Dan “Spider” Shepherd during his days in the SAS. In Personal Protection he is assigned as a bodyguard to a Middle Eastern ruler whose life is under threat.
Narrow Escape (A Spider Shepherd Short Story)
By
Series: Spider Shepherd Short Stories, Book 2. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 12,540. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: March 5, 2014. Category: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
An action-packed short story featuring Dan “Spider” Shepherd during his days on the SAS Escape & Evasion course. Mid-way through the exercise Shepherd realises that all is not as it seems - and his life is on the line.
Still Bleeding (A Jack Nightingale Short Story)
By
Series: Jack Nightingale Short Stories. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 14,550. Language: English. Published: December 20, 2013. Category: Fiction » Horror » Crime
A short story by the bestselling author of the Jack Nightingale series. Supernatural detective Nightingale is called in to investigate a case of stigmata. A young girl is bleeding from her hands and feet and claims to be talking to the Virgin Mary. But Nightingale soon realises that all is not as it seems - and the girl is in mortal danger.
Inspector Zhang and the Island of the Dead (A Short Story)
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 10,260. Language: English. Published: November 27, 2013. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Short Stories
Inspector Zhang is called in to investigate a murder where a doctor is knifed in a locked room. But nothing is as it first appears. The story is about 10,000 words, about thirty pages, perfect if you have half an hour to spare.
Rough Diamonds (A Spider Shepherd Short Story)
By
Series: Spider Shepherd Short Stories, Book 5. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 12,530. Language: English. Published: November 2, 2013. Category: Fiction » Adventure » War & military
An action-packed short story featuring Dan “Spider” Shepherd during his days as an SAS trooper in war-torn Sierra Leone. Rough Diamonds is about 12,000 words, about thirty pages, perfect if you have half an hour to spare.
Hostile Territory (A Spider Shepherd Short Story)
By
Series: Spider Shepherd Short Stories, Book 4. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 13,270. Language: English. Published: October 29, 2013. Category: Fiction » Adventure » War & military
An action-packed short story featuring Dan “Spider” Shepherd during his days as an SAS trooper in war-torn Sierra Leone. Hostile Territory is about 14,000 words, about thirty pages, perfect if you have half an hour to spare.
Warning Order (A Spider Shepherd Short Story)
By
Series: Spider Shepherd Short Stories, Book 3. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 14,620. Language: English. Published: October 25, 2013. Category: Fiction » Adventure » War & military
An action-packed short story featuring SAS trooper Dan "Spider" Shepherd. Spider almost dies in an ill-fated training exercise and then puts his life on the line in war-torn Sierra Leone. Shepherd went on to become an undercover cop in London in the series written by bestselling author Stephen Leather.
Natural Selection (A Free Spider Shepherd Short Story)
By
Series: Spider Shepherd Short Stories, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 14,450. Language: English. Published: October 13, 2013. Category: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
An action-packed short story featuring Dan “Spider” Shepherd during his days on the SAS selection course. Shepherd is tested to his limits and gets his nickname. Natural Selection is about 14,000 words, about thirty pages, perfect if you have half an hour to spare.
The Ladyboy Lover
By
Series: Asian Heat, Book 8. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 10,030. Language: British English. Published: June 8, 2013. Category: Fiction » Erotica » General
The last thing Jeremy expected when he moved to Thailand was to fall in love with a ladyboy. But that's what happened. And all went well until he decided that the one thing he needed to create the perfect family was a baby. That's when it all went horribly wrong.
Dead Drop (A Spider Shepherd Short Story)
By
Series: Spider Shepherd Short Stories, Book 9. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 14,420. Language: British English. Published: April 28, 2013. Category: Fiction » Adventure » War & military
A short story featuring SAS trooper Dan "Spider" Shepherd in action in Afghanistan, helping a 12-year-old boy get revenge for the death of his father. Shepherd went on to become an undercover cop in London in the series written by bestselling author Stephen Leather.
Kill Zone (A Spider Shepherd Short Story)
By
Series: Spider Shepherd Short Stories, Book 8. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 14,570. Language: English. Published: February 8, 2013. Category: Fiction » Adventure » War & military
SAS trooper Dan "Spider" Shepherd in action in Afghanistan, on the trail of a murderous Taliban assassin.
Take Two
By
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 91,900. Language: English. Published: January 7, 2013. Category: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
Carolyn Castle is one of the most famous faces in the UK - a soap opera star known to millions. But when she witnesses a gangland killing she has to ask herself if her fame could be the death of her.
Friendly Fire (A Spider Shepherd Short Story)
By
Series: Spider Shepherd Short Stories, Book 7. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 13,980. Language: English. Published: December 16, 2012. Category: Fiction » Adventure » War & military
An action-packed short story featuring Dan “Spider” Shepherd during his days as an SAS trooper in Afghanistan. It’s November 2001 and Shepherd is sent on a dangerous mission to a Taliban stronghold on the trail of the most wanted man in the world – Osama Bin Laden.
The Threesome
By
Series: Asian Heat, Book 6. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 9,940. Language: English. Published: November 25, 2012. Category: Fiction » Erotica » Menage/Multiple Partners
Be careful what you wish for because one day you might get it. That's what Jimmy discovered when he started lusting after a sexy threesome with his lovely wife Laura. But when he flies with her to Thailand to make his fantasy come true, his life changes for ever. The Threesome is just under 10,000 words - about 30 pages, perfect for when you have half an hour to spare.
Inspector Zhang Goes To Harrogate (A Short Story)
By
Series: Inspector Zhang Short Stories, Book 6. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 11,730. Language: English. Published: August 24, 2012. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Short Stories
Inspector Zhang goes to Harrogate to attend a mystery writers convention. But what was supposed to be a vacation turns into one of his most difficult cases when a famous writer is found dead in a locked room.
Short Fuses (Four short stories)
By
Price: Free! Words: 47,500. Language: British English. Published: June 14, 2012. Category: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
Four short stories from bestselling author Stephen Leather, plus opening chapters of six of his bestselling thrillers.
The Pregnant Wife (An erotic short story)
By
Series: Asian Heat, Book 5. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 17,210. Language: English. Published: June 6, 2012. Category: Fiction » Erotica » Romance
Dave is an English teacher in Bangkok who discovers a way to get free sex with a stream of beautiful girls. He has the perfect life, until he meets Nok. And when Nok falls pregnant, Dave's life changes for ever.
The Alphabet Game (an erotic short story)
By
Series: Asian Heat, Book 4. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 15,280. Language: English. Published: May 21, 2012. Category: Fiction » Erotica » Interracial
Dave is a frequent visitor to Thailand and has enjoyed all the sexual activities on offer in the Land of Smiles. One night he has sex with a girl called Ay and her friend Bee. That starts on him The Alphabet Game - where Dave tries to sleep with girls named after every letter of the alphabet. He has the time of his life until he meets a girl called Zed....
Banging Bill's Wife (an erotic short story)
By
Series: Asian Heat, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 10,080. Language: English. Published: April 3, 2012. Category: Fiction » Erotica » Menage/Multiple Partners
A high-flying stockbroker is offered a once-in-a-lifetime sexual opportunity in Thailand. Little does he know that it will change his life for ever.
Inspector Zhang and the Perfect Alibi (a short story)
By
Series: Inspector Zhang Short Stories, Book 5. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 9,750. Language: English. Published: March 9, 2012. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Short Stories
Inspector Zhang of the Singapore Police Force is called in to what appears to be an open and shut case. A young woman has been killed during a burglary. The fingerprints on the murder weapon point to a well-known house-breaker. But the burglar has a cast-iron alibi because at the time of the murder he was in police custody.
The Bestseller
By
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 59,480. Language: English. Published: September 27, 2011. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled
Would you kill to write a bestseller? Well Adrian Slater says that he’s prepared to do just that – and announces the fact in a creative writing class. Lecturer Dudley Grose is convinced that Slater is a psychopath and means what he says. But the Dean of the university doesn’t believe him and neither do the cops - until a pretty young student is murdered.
Inspector Zhang and the Disappearing Drugs (a short story)
By
Series: Inspector Zhang Short Stories, Book 4. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 16,720. Language: English. Published: July 7, 2011. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Short Stories
Inspector Zhang of the SIngapore Police Force is called in to investigate when a consignment of narcotics vanishes from under the eyes of a team of Drugs Squad detectives. It's a locked room mystery that puts Inspector Zhang's detective skills to the test.
Inspector Zhang and the Falling Woman (a short story)
By
Series: Inspector Zhang Short Stories, Book 3. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 16,040. Language: English. Published: July 7, 2011. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Short Stories
Inspector Zhang of the Singapore Police Force is horrified when a woman falls to her death in front of him one evening. But what seems to be a simple case of suicide soon becomes a much more complicated affair and one that will test his detective skills to the limit.
Inspector Zhang and the Dead Thai Gangster (a short story)
By
Series: Inspector Zhang Short Stories, Book 2. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 17,780. Language: English. Published: July 7, 2011. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Short Stories
The inscrutable Inspector Zhang of the Singapore Police Force is Bangkok-bound on a passenger jet when a passenger is found dead in the first class cabin. But who killed him, and why? It's up to Inspector Zhang and his assistant, Sergeant Lee, to solve the case.
Inspector Zhang Gets His Wish (A Free Short Story)
By
Series: Inspector Zhang Short Stories, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 15,070. Language: English. Published: June 16, 2011. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
Inspector Zhang loves mysteries, but as a Detective Inspector with the Singapore Police Force he knows that mysteries are few and far between. There are relatively few crimes in the city state and those that are committed are usually solved quickly. But that all changes when Inspector Zhang is called to a top Singapore hotel where a guest has been found murdered in a locked room.
Ma Danseuse Particulière
By
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 122,100. Language: French. Published: April 4, 2011. Category: Fiction » Adventure » General
1996 en Thaïlande. L’année du Rat. Pete, un jeune auteur de guides touristiques, s’égare dans un gogo de Bangkok où il rencontre l’amour de sa vie. Il s’ensuit un tour sur les montagnes russes, fait d’amour, de drogue et de tromperies ; tandis que Pete découvre que Sa Danseuse Particulière, n’est pas ce qu’elle proclame être.
Private Dancer (Deutsche Ausgabe)
By
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 106,840. Language: German. Published: March 30, 2011. Category: Fiction » Romance » General
Thailand 1996. Das Jahr der Ratte. Pete, ein junger Reiseschriftsteller, betritt eine GoGo-Bar und trifft die Liebe seines Lebens. Joy ist das Mädchen seiner Träume, jung und atemberaubend hübsch – und eines der bestverdienenden Mädchen der Bar. Was folgt, ist eine Achterbahnfahrt aus Sex, Drogen und Täuschungen.
Private Dancer
By
Series: Asian Heat, Book 2. Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 118,450. Language: English. Published: February 13, 2011. Category: Fiction » Romance » Adult
Pete, a young travel writer, wanders into a Bangkok go-go bar and meets the love of his life. Joy is the girl of his dreams, young, stunningly pretty, and one of the Zombie Bar's top earning pole dancers. What follows is a roller-coaster ride of sex, drugs and deception, as Pete discovers that his very own private dancer is not all that she claims to be.
Dreamer's Cat
By
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 67,310. Language: English. Published: February 13, 2011. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » High tech
A science fiction murder mystery set in a future world where virtual reality is a way of life. The hero is a Dreamer, a one-in-a-million talent who lays down psi-discs for the Cerebral Broadcasting Corporation. But when Dreamers start to die, our hero has to go into their alternative realities on the trail of the killer.
Bangkok Bob and The Missing Mormon
By
Series: Asian Heat, Book 1. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 63,200. Language: English. Published: January 1, 2011. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
Long-term Bangkok resident and former New Orleans cop Bob Turtledove has the knack of getting people out of difficult situations. So when a young man from Utah goes missing in Bangkok, his parents are soon knocking on Bob’s door asking for help.