Interview with Ernest Anthony Avina
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. I want to congratulate you on the release of Satan’s Beckoning.
Thank you, Antony. It’s a pleasure to meet up with you.
Can you tell the reader’s out there where Satan’s Beckoning picks up in the DCI Mason and David Carlisle series. How much time has passed since the events of the first book, The Wharf Butcher, and what has changed for both DCI Mason and David Carlisle since that first book?
Book 2 in the series opens with a late night fatal road traffic accident, in the middle of January 2013. Barely six weeks into his new role with the Northumbria Police Serious Crime Squad, Jack Mason is sent to investigate. With the dust barely settled on the Wharf Butcher case, the Detective Chief Inspector is out to impress. On his arrival at the crash scene, all is not what it appears to be and he is soon faced with a vicious murder investigation.
When criminal profiler David Carlisle is drafted in to assist, he is faced with the killer’s wrath. Within the seemingly dark vaults of the police missing persons files lay untold dangers. Young women are easy pickings for a serial killer who believes God has sent him to rid the world of an overindulgent appetite for greed.
What was the process like returning to this series? Did you find it easy to pick up from where The Wharf Butcher left off or is it more of a challenge to revisit a series that you spent so much time establishing?
The plot idea for Satan’s Beckoning came as a result of watching a late night TV chat show. At the time, the host was interviewing a well-known celebrity who was going through a major divorce settlement. He was 75 and she was 26, and boy did they look an odd couple. What intrigued me more than anything else about this case was the money settlement his wife’s lawyers were seeking. They’d only been married two years, and she was asking for millions. Not only that, she was desperate to enhance her own career by exposing her aging husband’s nasty little secrets in an autobiography she’d supposedly written.
Intrigued, this is where the writer in me takes over. Blackmail, greed, jealousy, hate, they are all in there. Suddenly ideas for book 2 were swimming around in my head – so why not throw another serial killer into the mix? If nothing else it seemed the perfect challenge for the two central characters, David Carlisle and DCI Mason.
Without revealing any plot details, what would you say is the biggest difference between The Wharf Butcher and the killer in Satan’s Beckoning? What makes this case a challenge for David Carlisle and DCI Mason?
Having created the Wharf Butcher, creating another narcissistic monster was a big challenge this time. I guess the big difference between the two serial killers is the not knowing who the killer is in Satan’s Beckoning. In trying to shed some light on the serial killer myths, I decided that this book would feature heavily on the mind games. Serial killers by their very nature are manipulative inter-species predators who have the striking ability to deceive. Many believe they even own their victims, and treat them as personal possessions. These people are sensation seekers, and unnerving callous individuals who are prone to violate the rules of society.
The question I often ask myself is why are so many readers, including myself, fascinated by serial killers? With this in mind, there is little wonder that David Carlisle would feature heavily in Satan’s Beckoning. The difficulty was how to fit Jack Mason into the storyline. I’d always wanted to write a crime thriller series, but always felt the need to write something different from the standard British police procedurals. I hope I have succeeded!
When writing, what drove you more when writing this series: the character development or the plot?
The beauty of writing a series is that the central characters are already developed, which allows me more time to concentrate on the plot. By the very nature of the title – Satan’s Beckoning –this was always going to be a dark psychological thriller, a game of cat and mouse between the criminal profiler and a serial killer. Writing suspense into a novel can be a very tricky challenge, writing continual suspense even harder. You have to work on it, and the plot development for this book took two years to write.
How important would you say the setting was in Satan’s Beckoning?
Place is really important in a novel, and it doesn’t matter where you live just as long as the writer can take you to that place in their story. A few years ago I met up with Ian Rankin in the old Oxford Pub, in Young Street, Edinburgh. The master of crime fiction who has sold millions of books, Ian’s advice to me was that a strong sense of place is very important in every good crime novel. I’m glad I took his advice.
What was the process like researching for this book series? What was the most fascinating thing you learned when researching crime investigations by the police?
In trying to understand the innermost workings of a serial killers mind, I spent endless hours on research and talking to senior police officers, SOCOs, prison officers and people who have had dealings with these people. Serial killers are not everyday people, but there are still plenty of bad guys out there who wouldn’t think twice about tearing you apart. I’m lucky I suppose, having worked six years in the British Law Courts as a Magistrate, I regularly came face to face with the real criminals – a priceless experience as a crime writer.
Shifting gears to the marketing side of your book release, what would you say has changed in terms of your book launch for The Wharf Butcher and now Satan’s Beckoning?
Twelve months on from my first book launch, and I have built up a small following of readers. It has certainly made the difference, and through social media networking, I have seen that interest slowly grow.
What has the experience been like meeting readers and doing signings with book stores?
Book signing is an exciting opportunity to have face-to-face discussions with your readers. Not only that, you have the chance to inspire and connect with your readers. This, I feel, gives me a great opportunity to better understand my target audience in a much deeper way than any other market research or online communication.
In truth, I sell far more paperback books than anything else, so these events are very important to me. Besides, talking with potential readers leaves an impact unmatched by all other forms of marketing, making your audience more likely to read your book and support your cause.
In this age of social media, what would you say has been the best social media sites to promote your book, and why do you think that is?
From my own experience, and the experience of many authors, bloggers, and top reviewers alike, Goodreads can be a great launch platform to promote your work. How much weight the review holds for an author, depends greatly on the publication and how much the reader trusts the reviewer’s judgment. That said Goodreads isn’t a platform to sell books directly. If you do try to do that, you will simply be pushed out. Like many other platforms, genuine engagement is required to get the most from it.
That said, Goodreads does offer authors the opportunity to promote their books through giveaways and advertising, both of which can help you get reviews on your books and spread the word about.
What does the future of the DCI Mason and David Carlisle look like? Are there any other book projects on the horizon?
I’m currently working on book 3 in the series. Still no firm title yet, but I hope to have it ready for release by autumn 2017. The plot has been a nightmare to get right, and has taken two years to research. It can be hard going at times, but I’m really pleased with the way things are shaping up. No spoilers here, but this one’s a real spine-chiller and not for the faint-hearted. All will be revealed in the due course of time, but if you think you’re safe – think again!
Thank you again so much for talking with us today.
Thank you for inviting me, Anthony. It’s been a pleasure talking to you today.