Coming in on the magic carpet this morning is my dear friend and colleague from Crooked Cat Publishing – Nik Morton. Why is he wearing a warm jacket, Cameron? Because where he lives is warmer than here so he’s probably feeling the chill a bit.
Come on into the kitchen, Nik and grab a seat by the wood stove.
Thank you for the invitation, Ailsa – and Cameron.
Cam – get the man a …what would you like, Nik?
Cava would fit the bill, thanks! A glass, not the bottle…
Oh and grab that box of biscuits on the table, they are local and yummy.
Ah, dreaded biscuits! Plays havoc with the diet. But it would be churlish to refuse. Three chocolate ones, did you say?
At least! So tell us again- where do you live?
Costa Blanca. Spain.
Why did you move there?
We fancied the weather and the life-style and Jen speaks fluent Spanish. We’ve spent 12 great years here so far.
Now you have a new book coming out Cataclysm on 15th December so do you want to give us a wee teaser?
Yes. Thanks. The heroine Catherine Vibrissae has a vendetta against Lupe Malefice, who was responsible for taking over her father’s company and causing his death. Malefice’s company is Cerberus, a many-headed global concern dabbling in lots of shady things… Now, Cat hears he is in Shanghai and intends to face him once and for all and finish it. But hasn’t taken into account the machinations of head of Cerberus security, Mr Soong.
It’s part of a series, isn’t it?
Indeed, it is – ‘the Avenging Cat’ series; Crooked Cat have produced three eye-catching covers, too. It began with Catalyst, was followed by Catacomb. And Cataclysm is the third. A fourth, Cat’s Eye is scheduled for some time in 2016.
Bring us up to speed a bit on the main characters if you would – no spoilers but, go on…
Cat (Catherine) Vibrissae trained as a chemist, obtaining her degree from Oxford in 2010, the year after her father’s death. She gave up chemistry in favour of modelling, it paid better; her catwalk name is Cathy Gledhill. She was born in on 12 August 1985 and is 5ft 10. She has high cheekbones, misty blue eyes, a pointed chin, and is tanned, possibly because she’s a competent free climber, comfortable scaling cliffs or buildings.
Cat’s friend and lover is Rick Barnes, who was a Cerberus company lawyer; he too has a strong reason to dislike Malefice: his brother-in-law journalist died in mysterious circumstances while investigating a Cerberus plant. Born on 6 March 1981, he is 6ft with a freckled face and shoulders, a prominent nose and big hands. Their hair has been dyed since we first met them in Catalyst.
Loup Malefice is the head of Cerberus. He’s Swiss, born on 14 July 1950 and studied chemistry at Oxford in 1966-1970. Height 5ft 6, he has a pasty complexion, thinning grey hair and dun-coloured eyes. The left side of his face has a slight droop, the corner of his eye dragged down, and the skin is slightly glossy; as a student he made a mistake in the lab and was badly burned. The plastic surgery was rudimentary. Divorced, he has three ex-wives.
Mr Soong Chong is thirty-two ; his family comes from Nanjing, which is highly relevant. ‘Chong’ means ‘powerful’. He is an imposing Chinese man with a golden complexion, an inscrutable gaze from almond eyes with gold-flecked irises. He wore his black hair close-cropped to a bullet-head. He was tall, about 6ft 4, muscular, broad-shouldered and barrel-chested, his arms longer than normal, almost simian; his hands were huge, calluses visible on the knuckles and edges.
What inspired this series?
A number of things came together, really. I wrote a short piece ‘Chemistry of Love’ which was actually about Cat’s parents, how they met etc. The death of Cat’s father suggested a reason for revenge. I’d also wanted to play with words – and having Cat in the title of each book appealed. I wanted her adventures to cover a lot of ground geographically, to some places I’d visited, but to others where I’d have to rely on research. So far, she’s been to France, Spain, Morocco, and China. Next stop is Italy.
Is it connected in any way with your pre-author days?
I started writing when I was sixteen, so I’ve been some sort of writer for a very long time – over fifty years in fact. Certainly, in those early days I hankered after writing adventure stories set around the world, no doubt inspired by Dennis Wheatley, among others. Little did I realise then that I would join the Royal Navy and see a good number of foreign countries, and I’ve tended to use them in my work over the last twenty years or so.
Any other info you want to share – come on, you must have a bit more to say.
A casual reader of my books might begin to think that I prefer female protagonists. After all, we have Cat and her vendetta, and Tana Standish, the psychic spy (The Prague Papers, The Tehran Text, and The Khyber Chronicle, quarter-completed), Laura Reid in Blood of the Dragon Trees, and Sister Rose, the nun who was an ex-policewoman (out of print Pain Wears No Mask). Strong female characters have appealed to me since those far off days of Mrs Emma Peel and Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise. But I also enjoy creating strong male characters too: there’s Leon Cazador, the half-Spanish half-English private eye (Spanish Eye), Andrew Kirby, the conservationist in Blood of the Dragon Trees, and his friend and co-worker Jalbala Emcheta; there’s police constable Paul Knight in Sudden Vengeance, Alex Tyson in The Prague Papers, and Alan Swann in The Tehran Text, for example. Trying to set a balance, I suppose. The same goes for the good and bad people – even the really bad folk have some semblance of humanity, it seems!
Well in my experience, that is true. Thanks so much for dropping by, Nik. Now back you go on the carpet because you have a busy day launching this book. Oh nice – Cam says take the rest of the bottle, you may need it.
Cataclysm – any region
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