Q&A with thriller writer Ian Coates

Q So now you've finished Eavesdrop, are you taking a well-earned break?
A No, I've got a lot of ideas for my next novel and I'm already busy with that. I'm planning out the characters and the basic plot. The publicity for Eavesdrop also takes a lot of time, and it's difficult to balance writing time with promoting the current book.
Q Can you tell us what this new book is about?
A Its working title is The Rival, and it's a mix of industrial sabotage, double blackmail and a feud between two cousins, but I'm not saying anything more than that at this stage.
Q What are your writing ambitions?
A First and foremost I would obviously like Eavesdrop to do really well, but longer term, I'd love to get to the stage of writing one novel a year.
Q What kind of readership do you think Eavesdrop will appeal to?
A Well, if I compare it to other thrillers on the market, I would say it would appeal to readers who enjoy the books of Robert Ludlum or Colin Forbes - basically, anyone who enjoys a fast-paced thriller. I'd also add that it seems to appeal to as many women as men.
Q Where have your thriller-writing skills come from? Have you had formal training?
A I believe the most effective form of training comes from reading the masters of the genre. I've voraciously read thrillers since I was about twelve, starting with wonderful authors such as Victor Canning and Desmond Bagley, and I learnt the art of writing by osmosis. Reading so many thrillers taught me where to put chapter breaks, how multiple viewpoints can create suspense, and the tricks of writing effective cliff-hangers. But having said that, I did complete a couple of correspondence courses, and those helped to apply a final polish to my writing style.
Q What other writers do you enjoy reading?
A I've always loved the works of Robert Ludlum and Jack Higgins, two great thriller authors, but more recently I've discovered Simon Kernick and Duncan Falconer, who both write incredibly fast-paced stories. There are plenty of others, too, like Tom Cain, Tom Bale, Michael Ridpath and Tom Wood, to name just a few.
Q What's been your best writing moment so far?
A Completing the final edit of Eavesdrop felt really great, but probably the most exciting was being told I was a winner in the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook centenray novel writing competition. I had entered a very early draft of the first few chapters of Eavesdrop and a synopsis, and it was a fantastic validation to be a winner. That really encouraged me to complete the book and to do all the editing that was necessary to get it to a suitable standard to send to a publisher. The most exciting is still to come, though, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the cover art for Eavesdrop and that great moment of holding the first paperback fresh from the printer.
Q Did writing Eavesdrop take a long time? Was it a hard slog?
Q Yes to both - I had to fit it around my family and a very busy work life. I used to get to the office early so that I could write for half an hour before starting work, but a lot of it was written sitting on aeroplanes or in airport lounges. And even after I'd finished the first draft, my editing and polishing took a long time. I'm hoping to be a lot faster with the next one.
Buy the thriller Eavesdrop at Amazon.com

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