Interview with Ian Kingsley

This is James Moushon interviewing Ian Kingsley after the publication of his latest mystery thriller: 'THE GRAVE CONCERNS OF JENNIFER LLOYD'. Good afternoon, Ian. How are you?
Fine thanks. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you, James.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Creating something entertaining and original. And making sure it is crafted as well as I can achieve. It must flow well.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything! It validates all the hard work one has to put in to get a great reader review.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love walking my dog, Lucy, with my wife, Hazel. Actually, Lucy was the role model for Susie, Jennifer Lloyd's little poodle in my latest thriller. I also love reading, of course. I like the cinema and stage, but nothing quite competes with the longer-term involvement of getting immersed in a good book. That creates such pleasure - and giving that pleasure to others is what makes being a novelist worthwhile.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I started writing as a child, and my first serious articles and a booklet were published before I left school. Becoming a novelist was always my ambition, but a career in design, technical publications, and getting married and having children kind of got in the way. I wrote non-fiction for a while and only later graduated to fiction. It's a lot more difficult writing fiction than non-fiction. That's not just because you start with a blank canvas, but because there are so many more things to think about - and try to perfect.
What is your writing process?
I think of an idea, work out the ending, decided where to start, and then plan outline scenes with estimated word counts, so I can work out how it might pan out. But while I feel it is essential to know where I'm heading before I engage in serious work, I am always open to my characters or situations diverting me towards a different ending.
What kind of writing do you enjoy most?
Fiction. I love reading novels and I love creating them. I have always had an inquiring mind: probably because I began my career in research and development and learned how to ask myself questions and seek the answers. That is why I'm interested in science and the so-called "meaning of life". That prompted my non-fiction book, 'Reality Check: Science Meets Religion', and it underlies my contemporary novel, 'Flying a Kite'. I love a thriller plot because it gives a novel focus and pace; and that's why, despite its deep undercurrents, 'Flying a Kite' has as many twists as any thriller; indeed, in many ways, it is also a thriller. My latest novel, 'The Grave Concerns of Jennifer Lloyd' exemplifies my favourite kind of plot: a thriller that focuses on its complex characters - and how ordinary people deal with being drawn into deadly crime.
I noticed the pre-publication review by Book Viral describes your novel about TV presenter Jennifer Lloyd as ‘a fine melding of mystery thriller and contemporary fiction.’ Can you explain this distinction?
I believe the reviewer, Stephan Myers, is referring to the character depth you expect from a contemporary novel – not always present in thrillers if they concentrate on a breakneck pace. To me, getting into the psyche of the main characters is what makes a book memorable - and that’s what I want to achieve. Although writing about crime, I’m more interested in the psyche of my characters than, say, police procedures. I like to think my readers will get to know my principal characters so well they will know how they might react in any given circumstances. But I like that depth framed by the pace and direction that results from a thriller plot, hence this ‘melding’. Contemporary novels can easily drift into uncharted territory if there’s no central thread. Not so with a thriller, which demands a logical development, a distribution of clues, some mystery and a denouement. I believe every scene in a thriller should either develop character or contribute towards advancement of the plot. This keeps the novel taut and, hopefully, that keeps the pages turning.
In your Author’s Note, you mention your protagonist, Jennifer Lloyd, came to you ‘fully-formed’? How unusual would you say that is for a novelist?
I think it’s unusual for an author to have in mind a character of such depth and strength right from the start. It’s more usual to gradually get to know your characters as you write, often going back to the early chapters to remodel them into what they have become. This was new for me, too. Normally it’s a process of gradually putting flesh onto the bones and personality into their mind-set. But Jennifer Lloyd was different. Her background, her forthright manner, and her wish to be represented in a strong first-person manner, all came to me right at the start. It was as if I already knew her as a real person. I had to take notice of her because this was such a gift. I’m so glad I did, rather than constrain her by employing a more traditional approach. K. C. Finn, a reviewer for Readers’ Favorite, said I created ‘a charming and real young woman.’ That’s good to hear from a female reviewer about my female protagonist. Although, I would add, she’s not quite so charming in a tight spot!
Can you give us a brief outline of the plot?
That puts me back to twists. The mystery thriller is such a well-established formula with its detectives - whether police, private or just plain eccentric - so I looked for a new twist there. Which is why my protagonist has an unusual occupation: a television reporter and presenter. Although Jennifer Lloyd is currently enjoying success in television, this is based on a very dodgy CV in which she falsely claims to have a MA in Ecology. She relies on blagging skills and internet research in order to succeed in her work, and her entry into television came from a fortunate break when, as a local newspaper reporter, she was interviewed on national television and was spotted by a media company to be a ‘natural’. Aware her fictional CV may catch-up with her at any time, she wants to build a sound foundation on which to base her newfound television career: with fame being her short-term fix. Inspired by watching Martin Bashir’s exposure of Michael Jackson in her youth, she goes for a similar approach to catch her interviewee by surprise. In her case it’s to unexpectedly expose a murderer live on camera, when he thinks he’s only going to be asked about his beloved gardens. So rather more risky than Bashir’s mission!
The most common question a novelist is asked is: ‘Which came first, characters or plot?’ So, did plot develop from your lead character in this case?
Not exactly. I do plan the plot in some detail, including thinking about some of the individual scenes and even how many words they warrant. And I certainly like to know what a satisfactory ending would be from right from the outset – even if I decide to change it later. Knowing a good ending is what gives me the confidence to put in the inordinate amount of time it takes to get there. If you don’t, it’s like setting out on a journey without a map or a destination in mind. That’s either a formula for a rambling book or a lot of wasted time and rewriting. But, given a workable plan, I always remain flexible. I’m willing to change anything if a better idea or an exciting twist comes to me. In this novel, the ending did change from my original idea. I’m always asking myself: ‘What if?’ The answer can sometimes change things dramatically.
Your principal character sound interesting. Can you tell us more about her?
Jennifer has a broken background and she sees the reader as a much needed confidant and friend. Although very feisty on the surface, the reader soon becomes aware of her fears and weaknesses, and her untrusting nature with regard to men, due to being sexually abused in a children’s home. She learned to be strong, and this allows her humour to shine through which, I think, helps make the book more entertaining. With first-person there’s always the problem of not easily getting away from the narrator, but Jennifer’s humour eases this ‘in-your-face’ relationship, and humorous work snippets both develop her character and act as pace buffers – the kind of thing achieved by switching scenes when writing in third-person.
How do you normally develop your characters?
I found this very difficult during my early attempts at writing fiction. After some research I discovered that many psychologists recognise 32 well-defined ‘normal’ and ‘disorder’ character types, and that sounded a great help. But getting from a character idea to the right type was too challenging. So I developed a graphical interface which made this really easy and that was a turning point for me. It helped me to easily create psychologically-rounded, three-dimensional characters suited to their roles in a story. These days I don’t need the tool so much because by using it I acquired a more natural skill. I believe that to create realistic characters you need to get right into their mind-set, not focus too much on their physicality. By the way, if there are any writers reading this who are interested in getting to know their characters in greater depth by using the method I devised, they can find more about it online at: synergise.com/p4. It’s also great for understanding the likely interaction between the different types.
Where can readers find out more about your latest novel?
Just go to: iankingsley.com/books/jennifer-lloyd
You have a very large following on Twitter. Can you tell us about your social media preferences?
I prefer Twitter because you can engage so easily with new people, and I can slot in odd tweets while having a breather from my writing. I tweet daily as @authorkingsley. I’m also on Facebook as ‘author.ian.kingsley’, where I replicate my daily tweets, but I don’t have the time to do a lot of original postings on Facebook – although that may well change. I have a Jennifer Lloyd page there where I’ve published some extracts. I’m also on Pinterest as ‘iankingsley’ because it’s a great place to post pictures of the real locations I use in my novels. I like to create a good sense of place by using real settings as much as possible, and these images, plus those on my website, enable readers who know the locations to visualise what is happening. The homepage of my website, at iankingsley.com, will always give details of where I can be found online, and it includes my latest Twitter posts in a form that makes them easy to read for those who do not have a Twitter account. My website also includes a lot of information about my books, including reviews and details of the settings I have used in all my novels.
Thanks very much for your time, Ian, and much success with your novel.
Thanks again for your interest, James.
Published 2016-05-26.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Flying a Kite
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 128,100. Language: English. Published: July 5, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Suspense, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
If ‘The Shack’ or ‘The Celestine Prophecy’ intrigued you, this is a book to inspire. It’s a light-hearted take on whether there really is a God. Dropout theology graduate Bruce Kramer jumps at the chance of consolidating his faith with science in order to win a £1M prize put up by a dying millionaire. But don’t be fooled: the serious research beneath this entertaining tale might change your life!
The Grave Concerns of Jennifer Lloyd
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 127,520. Language: English. Published: May 24, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths
(5.00 from 1 review)
Few fictional characters come over as strongly as feisty TV presenter Jennifer Lloyd. She’s out to save her career by making a name for herself by unmasking a murderer on-camera – despite the risks. "A fine melding of mystery thriller and contemporary fiction. Exceptionally entertaining." - BookViral. "Fiction a cut above the rest. Jen is a nice mix of complex, vulnerable and quirky." -Goodreads.
Heaven: Lost and Found
Price: Free! Words: 5,710. Language: English. Published: December 22, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Religion and Spirituality » Spiritual awakening
In biblical times people imagined Heaven was up in the clouds. That is hardly convincing today, so have we ‘lost’ Heaven in the 21st century? This eBook shows that need not the case and we can ‘find’ Heaven as a scientifically viable world just as tangible as ours. This is a free taster of parent work ‘Reality Check: Science Meets Religion’, but focuses on just one topic.
Reality Check: Science Meets Religion
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 34,430. Language: English. Published: November 15, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Religion and Spirituality » Religious philosophy
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
This accessible, thought-provoking and entertaining book reconciles religion and science in the modern world. It ratifies enigmas such as creation versus evolution and God’s position when disaster strikes. It shows the logic of life after death and how modern scientific theory may explain the location of Heaven. Visit iankingsley.com to watch a 6-minute video trailer about this amazing book.
Sandman - a tense psychological thriller
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 81,410. Language: English. Published: May 17, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Life at their beach hut seems perfect for Paul Vincent’s family—until their peace is shattered by murder. Matters deteriorate further when Leah, Paul’s teenage daughter, unwittingly reveals evidence to the police that implicates him. This gripping psychological thriller places turbulent emotions in stark contrast to beautiful surroundings, testimony to the fragile nature of tranquility.