Interview with Randal Shirley

What's the story behind your latest book?
'Looking for Charley' was inspired by the time I lived in Beirut in the Lebanese civil war. 'Charley, the Rock and the Hard Place' followed as a natural progression - the characters grew on me and I couldn't just leave them to fend for themselves.
How much of your writing is based on true life?
Like most novelists my writing is based on real life experiences - but of course the plots are fiction. Some of the violent Beirut scenes in 'Looking for Charley' actually happened as I described. Almost all my characters are loosely based on real people.
What is your writing process?
I don't have a set writing process and I hate what I call 'formulated writing' where the author follows a predictable proscribed pattern. Basically I start from ground zero with just the basic plot and a few 'way-points' in mind and let my characters surprise me along the way. That way it's more fun for me - and hopefully for the reader too.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When a reader tells me they can't wait for the sequel.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I'm a Londoner, and I guess that must show, but I'm a bit of a hobo and suspect years of extensive traveling and working abroad have had the biggest influence on my writing.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines when I was around 9. I have never been without a book at my side since.
When did you first start writing?
I started my first novel, Looking for Charley, some twenty years ago, but abandoned it after a personal tragedy. It sat in the attic for many years until my son found it and encouraged me to finish it. I actually re-wrote it from scratch.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Two Staffordshire Bull Terriers with an uncanny sense of the time - always at 5.30am precisely
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Sometimes a Great Notion, Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy and pretty well any other Le Carre book.
How do you approach cover design?
The idea for a cover develops subconsciously as I write. My sister and her husband, both graphic artists, translate the idea for me.
I like the cover to pertain to the book in a way that the reader will only fully understand at the end.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I still love books I can feel and smell - but I love my old basic Kindle for its portability. I travel a lot and books are just too cumbersome. I love the idea of buying a book online on a whim
What are you working on next?
Give me a break - I've only just finished 'Charley, the Rock and the Hard Place'!
Seriously, I do have an idea hatching and it will be connected to the two Charley books, but it will be set in London and won't be a sequel in the true sense of the word.
Describe your desk
Glass and steel. Facing out of a conservatory looking over Rutland countryside. Tidy - at least it starts that way.
Published 2014-10-23.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Charley, the Rock and the Hard Place
Series: Charley. You set the price! Words: 93,820. Language: British English. Published: November 28, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage
(5.00 from 1 review)
3,000 feet above the Bass Straight, low on fuel in a tiny plane in the eye of a storm, Courtney spots a capsized yacht and makes a decision that will turn the clock back several years and involve his family and those around him in a bloody feud. His friends in Mossad can no longer help him and Hezbollah now know he is still alive and are hot on his heels again. He's tired of running and hiding.
Looking for Charley
Series: Charley. Price: Free! Words: 122,540. Language: British English. Published: April 17, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage
(5.00 from 1 review)
Charley, a vivacious young croupier from London, stranded in Lebanon’s civil war, is on the run. Hezbollah, Mossad and her terrorist ex-lover are hunting her but she has no idea why. Scared, lost and confused she flees to Africa, covering her tracks as best she can. Russell Courtney - her ex-boss and good friend - is also hot on her trail, but she has no intention of being found. Nowhere is safe.