Today I’m pleased to be welcome Rob Ashman to present his Five on Friday. I first met Rob briefly last year at Harrogate, but got to know him much better this year. Rob writes dark, gritty, serial thrillers that are not for the faint hearted. His latest title Suspended Retribution was published this week.
Rob is married to Karen with two grown up daughters. He is originally from South Wales and after moving around with work settled in North Lincolnshire where he’s spent the last twenty-two years.
He has published Those That Remain, In Your Name and Pay the Penance with Bloodhound Books and has since written Faceless, This Little Piggy and Suspended Retribution which will also be published by Bloodhound.
When he is not writing, Rob is a frustrated chef with a liking for beer and prosecco, and is known for occasional outbreaks of dancing.
So over to Rob
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
This is really tough because I like all kinds of music. But here goes with five songs that have a special resonance for me.
Brown sugar by The Rolling stones. This was my dad’s favourite band and his favourite song. It was released in 1971 and I can remember when it came on the radio we would dance around the living room with him doing his Mick Jagger impression. It’s a great memory and a fabulous piece of music.
Mustang Sally and Sweet Home Alabama. I’ve grouped these two together for a specific reason: My wife, Karen, and I like to dance when we’ve had a few glasses of wine – the problem is we only have one dance. It’s a kind of rock and roll, jive type of dance and I drive her around the bend because I try to make it fit all types of music. Two songs it does suit is Mustang Sally and Sweet Home Alabama, and whenever they come on we can be found up dancing even when there is no dance floor. There is a restaurant in Vegas which would bear testimony to that – apparently, we had some funny looks.
I love musical theatre and Les Miserable is my favourite. I’ve seen it three times now and the last time was at the Millennium Theatre in Cardiff which is a beautiful venue. We bought the tickets for my mum and dad as part of their Christmas present and went along with them to see the show. I was expecting, having seen it twice, for the shine to have gone off it – how wrong I was. The artist playing Jean Valjean was John Owen-Jones who comes from Bury Port where Karen grew up. When he sung Bring Him Home the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. It was stunning.
The final piece would have to be Bread of Heaven. As a proud Welshman I love Six Nations Rugby and we often have a house full of people when the games are on. I can remember going to Cardiff Arms Park as a youngster to watch Wales play and hearing Bread of Heaven reverberating around the stadium – it was an emotional experience. Not sure how we will do in the next six nations, it depends on which Welsh side turns up on the day – welcome to being a Welsh supporter.
Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
Okay so I am presuming from the way the question is written that I have my family and friends. That being the case:
Parties, parties and more parties! We do have a tendency towards being party-monsters. A regular get-together with my family and friends would be tough to live without. We have a very active social calendar and are always at each other’s houses for a ‘bit of a do’ or are away with friends for weekends. I can’t imagine not having that.
Curry! Not many people appreciate that curry is an entire food group all on its own … joke. I would eat curry for every meal of the day if I could get away with it. When I visited New Delhi with work it was absolute bliss. We went to restaurants and I didn’t recognise a single meal on the menu. It was amazing!
I am a frustrated chef and would find it hard to live without cooking. On occasions when I’ve been away in hotels I can’t wait to roll my sleeves up in the kitchen, surround myself with my chef’s knives and chopping boards, and get stuck in. I love to cook with a beer, or three, in my hand and there have been occasions when I’ve cooked up a fabulous meal only to then forget how I did it.
I’ve been a fulltime crime writer now for a couple of years and I would find it difficult not to write. The voices in my head are seldom silent and they need a route out. If I switched that off I’m not sure what they would do.
Coupled with the previous answer – my apple laptop. It goes everywhere with me. I used to have other laptops but they seemed to self-destruct after a couple of years. I have a MacBook Air and it is a fabulous piece of kit.
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
I found this one really hard to answer, so I consulted, Karen, who very quickly provided me with a long list of advice – none of which I have included as most of it seemed to apply to now.
I could think of three:
Be more tolerant of others. I had a terrible tendency, when I was younger, to be critical of other people’s choices and decisions. It was not a very attractive quality. Nowadays I am much more relaxed. Note: I read this answer out to my wife and she rolled her eyes and said ‘Really?’. I suppose, everything is relative.
Don’t wait until you are climbing the walls with frustration before changing jobs. Even though I have had a very varied career there were times when I knew I should leave a role but convinced myself to stay. This inevitably led to driving Karen up the wall because when I eventually wanted to hit the eject button, it would take months before I found a new job.
Don’t be so hard on yourself – give yourself a break. It’s okay not to get things right first time, sometimes screwing up is all part of the learning process.
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
Karen and I were caught up in the Warrington bombing in 1993. The IRA detonated two bombs hidden in litter bins on Bridge Street. I was waiting for Karen to collect her contact lenses from Boots and was stood ten feet away from the first litter bin. After waiting for a while, Karen arrived and we walked to our car – minutes later it went off. All I can say is, it wasn’t our time.
It took me 24 years to write my first book and I only got serious about writing it when my dad developed cancer. It was a particularly aggressive illness and I gave up work for three months to look after him and my mum. Writing Those That Remain was my coping strategy for what was happening in the real world.
I play the guitar and have five to choose from. I would like to say that having played for thirty-five years I was pretty good – unfortunately the opposite is true. One year my daughters bought me a set of headphones to plug into my amplifier … which says it all. I brought them up better than that, I blame Karen.
I designed and built the electrical and control system for a revolutionary new style of iced lolly while working at Unilever’s research and development labs. I then worked and lived in Madrid while we installed the plant in a new factory. By the end of the secondment I could swear better in Spanish than I could in English.
I started my working life when I left school at the age of sixteen and took an apprenticeship with the National Coal Board. Arthur Scargill was head of the NUM while Ian McGregor headed up the NCB; we had three strike calls in eighteen months and the writing was on the wall. I left and went to university at the tender age of twenty-three to read an honours degree in electrical and electronic engineering. In my second year of university the place where I worked closed down. It was a very sad day.
What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?
I don’t have a bucket list, I tend to think if I want to do something … I’d do it.
Having said that, there are a few countries I would like to visit.
I would love to travel around Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and around India (Karen is not too keen on any of these). I also want to go to Australia and New Zealand to visit friends who have emigrated there.
Not sure if this is a true bucket list item but I have always wanted to spot someone reading one of my books while lounging by the pool on holiday. What a buzz that would be.
Thanks so much for taking part Rob. My Spanish classes have gone by the board in the past year, but strangely enough, we never did swear words – but now I know where to come! I suspect something like the Warrington bomb puts life in perspective and may well account for not having a bucket list. While I devised the questions, I don’t have one either. I’d prefer to to take opportunities and chances to do things at the time they’re offered – just in case I might not have the opportunity later. I hope you get the chance to travel to your desired locations though, sooner rather than later and see that book being read by the pool. That would be cool!
Alex Jarrod is a war veteran. When a flesh-eating parasite destroys his face, he returns from Afghanistan with a head full of nightmares. His world crumbles around him until he realises there is work to be done. Another war to fight.
DI Rosalind Kray has her hopes pinned on becoming the new DCI after tracking down another serial killer, but those in charge have other ideas.
After a small-time crook is killed in a hit and run and a serial burglar is brutally murdered, Kray suspects a vigilante is at work. But her bosses disregard her theory – until they discover a third victim.
Once again Kray finds herself on the trail of a serial killer but this one is different. This one lives in his own private war zone.
With her bosses on her heels Kray has her work cut out and the body count is rising.
But he’s not going to stop until the mission is complete … and Kray’s not going to stop until she finds him.
Kevin Palmer is a regular sort of guy, or he was until his life fell apart. His wife, his money, his business and his reputation are all taken away from him. He tries to fight back and ends up in prison.
There he concocts elaborate fantasies to wreak vengeance. He is sent to work in an abattoir and the final piece of the jigsaw falls into place with chilling consequences. Then a cruel twist of fate changes everything.
DI Rosalind Kray is battling her own demons having returned to work following a brutal attack. She finds herself on the trail of a sick and twisted killer and cracks the macabre pattern of murders. But her boss is unconvinced.
Kray has Palmer squarely in her sights. But he has other ideas …
Can Kray break him in time to save the final victim?
Time is running out.
After surviving a vicious knife attack, which left her husband dead, DI Rosalind Kray returns to work and is handed a serial killer investigation.
This killer is different, he doesn’t just want to take the lives of his victims, he wants to obliterate their very existence. The murders appear random but the killer selects his quarry with meticulous care.
While fighting her superiors Kray must conquer her own demons, which are tearing her apart.
Kray has the ability to think like a killer and her skills lead to a series of horrifying revelations that turn the case on its head. She believes she is getting close, then her world comes crashing down with devastating consequences.
Will Kray find the murderer and escape with her own life intact?
The truth is closer than she could have ever imagined…
Lucas is coasting towards retirement in a mundane Florida police precinct when a brutal serial killer, codenamed Mechanic, lands on his patch. Three years ago, they thought Mechanic was dead. But Mechanic is very much alive and no family is safe from the savage, ritualistic murders that the sadistic killer is compelled to commit.Mechanic is always one step ahead and Lucas is forced to operate outside of the law. But who can he trust and who is Mechanic?
Soon Lucas will learn that the truth is more terrifying than he could ever imagine and in order to find the answers he needs, he might have to put his life on the line…
Police detective Lucas has become consumed with tracking down the deranged killer, known as Mechanic, and bringing the murderer to justice. Nothing else matters, not even his wife. His marriage is falling apart.
Mechanic has not killed for eight months and the trail has gone cold, then Lucas receives a terrifying letter. In a desperate bid to reignite the case, he tries to convince his boss to mount an operation in Baton Rouge where the letter was posted.
But was the letter really sent by Mechanic?
Not knowing where to turn, with his marriage in turmoil and his career on the rocks, Lucas begins to spiral out of control and when Mechanic meets the head of a drug smuggling cartel the situation takes a grave turn.
Meanwhile, a bizarre set of murders are taking place in Vegas and Detective Rebecca Moran is put on the case. She will stop at nothing to make a name for herself.
Is there a link between the murders and Mechanic?
Can Lucas apprehend the killer this time or will Mechanic remain one step ahead?
Murder. Corruption. Revenge.
Lucas has been tracking a killer, known as Mechanic, when his world is shattered. Unable to continue his hunt for the murderer he is forced to rely on his friend and colleague Dick Harper. But Harper has a knack for not playing by the rules. And he doesn’t disappoint.
Meanwhile Detective Moran is trying to piece her life back together. The police stumble upon new evidence without grasping its significance and she must divert the investigation if she is to survive.
The police are closer to Mechanic than they realise which puts Moran right in the firing line.
Mechanic, as usual, has other plans and the consequences for Lucas and Harper are terrifying…
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