Today I’m delighted to introduce David Evans, one of the several crime writers I met while at The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate this summer. Thankfully I obviously didn’t blot my copy book, or appear too stalkerish as he’s kindly agreed to take part this in this weeks Five on Friday.
David had a successful career as a professional in the construction industry until he decided to concentrate on writing in 2012. His writing has generated strong acclaim having had a stage play shortlisted in the Essex Playwrights Festival in 2001 and gaining Commended and Highly Commended awards at Writers’ Conferences in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 for his crime writing and in 2016 in ‘Pitching A TV Drama’.
In 2013, his novel, Torment, was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger. His work is also exampled in How to Write a Chiller Thriller by Sally Spedding, published in April 2014.
In 2016, He signed a three-book deal with publishers Bloodhound Books for his critically acclaimed Wakefield Series, consisting of Trophies, Torment and Talisman.
In June 2017, the three-book eboxset of the Wakefield Series became an International Best Seller, reaching no 2 in Canada, no 3 in Australia and no 19 here in the UK.
David is married with one daughter and lives in rural Essex.
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
I suppose the first piece would have to be Perry Como’s MAGIC MOMENTS. This was one of the first songs I remember as a small child, learning the words after I’d heard it on the radio and being able to sing it.
Ray Davies is one of my all-time favourites and amongst a huge catalogue of wonderful songs there is one which I think is his absolute best. The Kinks CELLULOID HEROES, about our aspirations and dreams is Ray at his lyrical best.
I discovered Eva Cassidy (as did most in this country) through Terry Wogan’s producer, the late Paul Walters. This was a posthumous discovery by Paul and I always feel moved when I hear her sing, such a sad loss and so much unfulfilled promise. I would have to choose FIELDS OF GOLD – her rendition is flawless and always fills me with emotion. This is one good example of where a cover version is much better than the original (The same could be said of her version of Over The Rainbow too, of course.)
Paul Rodgers still has an amazing rock voice and I was delighted to see him earlier this year. I loved all the bands he’s featured in, from Free, Bad Company, The Law and I even saw him when he was guest singer with Queen a few years back. But it would have to be Free and ALL RIGHT NOW which would be in my five.
Rod Stewart’s MAGGIE MAY. That means so much to me for reasons I can’t make public. When I was at Uni, one of the guys I shared a flat with brought in his grandfather’s flatback mandolin. Our challenge one term was to be able to play the mandolin solo from Maggie May. I did manage it (in a fashion) and it always makes me mad when it’s played on the radio and they cut it off just as that part starts – aaarrghhh!
Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
I suppose beer would be too much to do without. Not that I drink an awful lot but I do like a nice pint of ale. I often say I like my beer like my tea – Tetleys, but I do love all of the Adnams range and other similar smaller brewery’s beers.
Countryside. I couldn’t bear it if I couldn’t get out and about in the fresh air and enjoy what this great island has to offer, from the west coast of Scotland, the border country, the Pennines, Suffolk and the west country, as well as Wales and all places in between.
Humour. This is a fundamental part of human nature in my view. For me, the reason Coronation Street scores over Eastenders every time is because it has that underplayed northern humour weaving through other more serious storylines. It’s vitally important in my writing too, to provide the all-important balance of light and shade that reflects true life.
Friends. Another vital part of my life are the true friends I have made over the years. I lost a good one to cancer earlier this year and it brought home to my just how important they are. You don’t have to be in contact every day or every week but just knowing they are there to call if you need to talk and obviously the same is true in reverse.
Good health. Without your health, enjoying much else would be so difficult, if not impossible.
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
My dad died when I was 17, just as I was beginning to know him as an adult. I wish I’d started talking to him sooner about his life and all sorts of other things a father and son should discuss.
One other regret I think about now and again is that when I was a student in Manchester in 1973, season 1973/4 was the last to feature Best, Law and Charlton in the Manchester United team. I never went to see a game there and I wish I could go back and see them play.
I wish I’d begun writing earlier in life. I know people say you need experience of life to be able to write but I wish I’d started sooner. When I finally decided to devote my time to the activity, I said I didn’t want to be ten years older then wish I’d taken that decision ten years ago.
In complete contrast to the last three points, look forward, don’t look back too much and always try to have some sort of plan.
Enjoy the moment. Grasp your opportunities. Don’t waste time on irrelevant things. Life is too short.
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
One claim to fame is that I have taken a film star for a walk. When I was around ten, my dad asked if I could amuse this dog for a while as it was a bit yappy and its owner had to present prizes at an athletics meeting. The owner was the Chief Constable of Edinburgh & Lothians Police and the dog had appeared in a starring role in the Disney film of Greyfriars Bobby.
I played football to a reasonable standard in younger life. I was a goalkeeper and harboured dreams of becoming a professional but it wasn’t to be.
I worked for a year in Benghazi in Libya on a hospital construction project when Gaddafi was in power. One day I saw him in a motorcade as it swept past the site – not in the blacked-out limo where you’d expect, but driving a Range Rover about three vehicles behind. Interesting times.
I was arrested in Poland in 1984. My wife and I were on a train travelling from Szczecin on the Baltic back to Poznan where we would connect with a train to Hook of Holland. Accompanying us was a Polish friend we’d met whilst working in Libya. My wife was in the compartment with him, jotting down some personal details so we could invite him to come to Britain. I was in the corridor taking photographs of the steam engines still in daily use back then. A guard saw this and became suspicious and so the train made an unscheduled stop at Wronki where, unbeknown to us was a notorious prison. We managed to sort things out and, after a mad taxi ride to Poznan, made our connection to Holland.
When I left school, for a summer job I worked for a local ice-cream company. As well as some time in the factory, I used to drive one of their ice-cream vans around the area. One lunchtime, I wandered in to one of the outbuildings at the rear of the premises and spotted a shape under a tarpaulin. When I lifted it, there was the company’s original van – a converted Rolls Royce. Years later, I discovered it has been restored to full working order.
What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?
My dad was a mechanic in the RAF in the war with 614 Squadron, County of Glamorgan who were based for a while in Macmerry, East Lothian. That’s where he met my mum. I would dearly love to fly in a Spitfire in memory of him.
I’ve always been fascinated by railways from being very small. I would love to drive a main-line steam locomotive. I feel they are living, breathing things. Definitely art in motion.
I’d love to meet Ray Davies (see music section above) and give him a poem I wrote about him some twenty years ago.
As a writer, I would love to be able to go into a mainstream bookshop and see my books on the shelf. It has happened in my local independent shop but it would be great to see them more widely available.
I’d like to travel to more places. Although I’ve been fairly fortunate to see a lot of countries, there is still an awful lot more to see.
Great answers David, Rod Stewart would always be in my top five as well, are you really sure you can’t tell all as to why it means so much – we won’t tell – honest! Tough miss with Best, Law and Charlton, especially with your footballing past, that produced a collective groan in this household. Never mind, plenty more adventures to make up for it since.
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The Wakefield Series is a crime fiction series set primarily in Yorkshire, consisting of TROPHIES, TORMENT, which was shortlisted in the prestigious Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger in 2013, and TALISMAN. They are all currently available in paperback or ebook formats.
When DI Colin Strong interviews a suspect on suspicion of handling stolen goods he’s convinced he’s heard their voice before. Nearly 25 years ago the tape of Wearside Jack taunted West Yorkshire Police and his suspect fits the profile.
Then the body of a known burglar shows up and a mysterious metal case is discovered at the scene.
Strong turns to his close friend, journalist Bob Souter, and embarks on an awkward alliance to probe areas he is unable to explore.
As the murder suspects start to disappear Strong must discover just who the shadowy figure inciting fear and panic amongst those he encounters is.
Strong wants to bring a murderer to justice and Souter is hungry for a story.
Who will get to the truth first and can their friendship remain intact?
A message left in error on a young woman’s answerphone is the catalyst for uncovering some dark deeds.
Three young women are missing; luxury cars are being stolen; and just what did happen to two young schoolgirls, missing since the 1980’s?
DI Strong and journalist, Bob Souter are drawn into murky and dangerous worlds.
Following a fire in a terraced house, the body of a prominent lawyer, Charles Chamberlain, is found naked and shackled to a bed frame.
Six weeks earlier, DI Colin Strong is investigating the sudden death of a transsexual, left undiscovered in the bath for over a year. Initially, it appears to be a tragic death but one mysterious item, a card for the Talisman Club, is found in the bedroom.
Meanwhile, Bob Souter, journalist and close friend of DI Strong, is probing connections between a developer and the council leader in respect of a controversial project when massive European funding is announced. Souter smells a rat and delves further into the scheme.
Is there a link between the bodies and the business deal?
Will Souter or DI Strong crack the case first? And what exactly is the Talisman Club?
If your appetite has been whetted or you’ve already read these and are looking for more, then 2018 offers some exciting news.
Complete and scheduled to publish early next year is the first in a completely new series.
DISPOSAL is set in North Essex towards the end of the long hot summer of 1976. Uniformed police sergeant Cyril Claydon, contemplating retirement within months, is drawn into a temporary CID role after making a grim discovery when he witnesses a light aircraft crash into the sea. Shocked and disappointed at the working practices and attitude of his new boss, DI ‘Dick’ Barton, he sets out to solve the crimes he is faced with.
The second in this series, DISTRESSED, is under way
Also in hand is a 4th in the Wakefield Series. TAINTED should be ready for publication next year too.
You can catch up with David via:-