Saturday, 19 January 2013

Interview - Keith Nixon, The Fix

I was made redundant in 2009, the run up to the event wasn’t the greatest of experiences. I’ve (perhaps!) included some of the people and extrapolated some of events that occurred during that time. So, a negative turned into a positive.
Keith Nixon – 17 January 2013




The Back Flap

Murder. Theft. Sociopaths. And Margate. Just another day in banking then…
It’s pre-crash 2007 and financial investment banker Josh Dedman’s life is unravelling fast. He’s fired after £20 million goes missing from the bank. His long-time girlfriend cheats on him, then dumps him. His only friends are a Russian tramp who claims to be ex-KGB and a really irritating bloke he’s just met on the train. His waking hours are a nightmare and his dreams are haunted by a mystery blonde. And to cap it all, he lives in Margate…

Just when Josh thinks things can’t get any worse his sociopathic boss — Hershey Valentine — winds up dead and he finds himself the number one suspect. As the net closes in Josh discovers that no one is quite what they seem, including him, and that sometimes help comes from the most unlikely sources…

Part fiction, part lies (well, it is about banking) and excruciatingly funny, The Fix pulls no punches when revealing the naked truth of a man living a life he loathes.

What is the book about?
In short – ego, murder, lies and the need to change our lives. To take each in turn – arrogant people who think they’re untouchable, one of which ends up dead as a result, nobody is quite who they seem (however we all pretend to be something we’re not) and everyone ends up someone different as a result (but not everyone is pleased about the outcome).
The Fix is partially serious, mainly funny – you’ll get plenty of laughs as the story unfolds. One of the straplines I discarded was ‘Murder, it’s a funny business.’

When did you start writing the book?
February 2011, on a plane to Dubai.

How long did it take you to write it?
About 15 months in total with re-writes and edits.

Where did you get the idea from?
I was made redundant in 2009, the run up to the event wasn’t the greatest of experiences. I’ve (perhaps!) included some of the people and extrapolated some of events that occurred during that time. So, a negative turned into a positive.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
I tend to start a book well, based on an initial idea and then struggle once about a quarter of the way through when the initial rush of ideas are down on paper and I run out of steam & there are lots of problems to be solved (which is the crux of novel writing after all). True to form this happened with The Fix.

What came easily?
The characters, I had ideas for them all and how I wanted them to behave. Their names took a little longer and went through several changes to get them right as each of them – Hershey Valentine, Claire Pigeon, Josh Dedman and the rest – all have meaning.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
All of the characters are borrowed to a lesser or greater degree from people I’ve been unfortunate enough to meet but no-one is entirely ‘real’.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
Wow, this is really tough. I’ve read a lot over the years and my tastes have shifted as I’ve aged (gracefully). I really appreciate those who can build strong tension and interest through the characters and their activities where not a word is wasted. To name my big hitters – Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Bernard Cornwell, Terry Pratchett, Christopher Fowler and Philip Pullman. But there are lots of other great authors I’ve read such as Tony Black, Philip Reeve, Isaac Asimov, Martin Cruz Smith and Robert Harris among others.

How have they influenced me to write? Well, you have to create a strong story and interesting characters who you can empathise with that move the narrative along with pace. Also, that it takes a lot of effort. It’s rare to be an overnight success.

Do you have a target reader?
Only genre specific – crime, murder / mystery and humour readers.

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
Once I have an initial plot idea and some characters (usually their behaviours) the writing process is evolutionary. I build the outline of both premise and characters and some activities broken down into chapters in a Word document with a series of questions that need to be answered. In the latter, I mean activities that may occur in the story but I haven’t yet decided whether they’ll work but I want to capture them as I have a mind like a sieve. I then add to the outline (usually scribbling ideas as they come to me on a handy bit of paper then adding to the Word document later) over a few days and weeks. I’ve found that if I have a decent enough outline structure to hang the story on the writing flows and vice versa. When I get stuck, as inevitably happens, I re-visit the outline, modify and add. It also helps me find continuity errors.

In parallel I’ll start writing a few chapters, even if they’re brief and there are gaps in the timeline because then the story and the characters get into my blood. I take the view that an outline is just an idea whereas a chapter is activity.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
Yes, as discussed it’s critical for me to picture where I’m going but only with the rough outline in a couple of sentences. I also don’t tend to number the chapters but give each their own title as a clue…

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
A little editing as I go but mainly I try to do the bulk of it at the end of a draft because I have previously found I spent more time working on one or two chapter than getting on with the actual writing itself – I get into an edit eddy. There are sometimes exceptions – if I think of a major change that will significantly alter future chapters it bugs me unless I make some fixes, or if I think of additions to earlier chaptersm I will go back and throw them in. Again the process is quite evolutionary.

Did you hire a professional editor?
Yes, but more for copy than anything else. For one my punctuation (particularly comma use) isn’t perfect so I wanted to pick up any errors in this respect. The second was to look for continuity issues (I also use beta readers for this) and whether any of my clues were too subtle. It’s easy to miss stuff because of over-familiarity with the story.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
No, too distracting. I want my fingers tapping keys not my thigh!

Did you submit your work to Agents?
No. Not this time around.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
A few years ago I wrote a historical fiction book. I ‘lost’ a year trying to get agents and publishers interested. Despite some encouraging feedback, none took it up. It was very frustrating so I decided with The Fix to do it myself. I will shortly be releasing the historical fiction as Indie too.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did it you do it yourself?
Professionally, I’ve found that people tend to be orientated towards either words or pictures. I’m the former so I’m terrible at the latter.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
A bit of both, which is me all over. I’d read up about getting books to market. However I work in a sales role and I feel you need to have a the product to make it available to people. Therefore, I’ve put a lot of activity in after launch, rather than before but it’s been a great learning exercise. Next time I’ll do more up-front.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
Write as much as you can, it’s better to have something than nothing. Please make sure you get an editor, nothing is more annoying than bad format, punctuation or spelling (although editing won’t turn a bad book into a good book). Make connections on social media like Twitter and Goodreads although don’t expect this to immediately generate sales – it’s about relationships more than anything. Grow a thick skin, not everyone will like your work. Support other writers, from relationships comes networks and this is what life is about, after all.

Where did you grow up?
In various locations across the UK. We moved around a lot with my father’s job so I was always the kid with the different accent trying to fit in.

Where do you live now?
In a tiny coastal town in the UK called Broadstairs. There’s a literary angle to the place. Charles Dickens used to holiday here and wrote several books. A walkway down to the beach was the inspiration for The 39 Steps and there’s rumour of several links to Ian Fleming’s James Bond.

What would you like readers to know about you?
That I’m happy to help anyone with their own writing success (I’m freely available on Twitter and Goodreads).

What are you working on now?
Two things – my historical fiction is about to be edited for release in the first couple of months of 2013.
I’m also working on a follow up to The Fix involving several of the key characters. It is based a couple of years after. I also have ideas to follow the characters back in time to show how they got to where they are…

This interview was originally published on The Indie View site (

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