Today I’m delighted to feature Paul Finch a former cop and journalist now turned best-selling crime and thriller writer. Paul is the author of the very popular DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg and DC Lucy Clayburn novels. I recently met Paul, appropriately at the Crime Writers Festival in Harrogate and he very kindly agreed to share his Fives with us.
Paul first cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British TV crime drama, The Bill, and has written extensively in horror, fantasy and science-fiction, including for Dr Who.
However, he is probably best known for his crime/thriller novels, specifically the Heckenburg police-actioners, of which there are seven to date, and the Clayburn procedurals, of which there are three. The first three books in the Heck line achieved official best-seller status, the second being the fastest pre-ordered title in HarperCollins history, while the first Lucy Clayburn novel made the Sunday Times Top 10 list. The Heck series alone has accrued over 2,000 5-star reviews on Amazon.
Paul is a native of Wigan, Lancashire, where he still lives with his wife and business partner, Cathy.
Over to Paul
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
(Paul has kindly included the YouTube links before you think I’m setting a precendent)
Paperback Writer – the Beatles: For some reason this song really grabbed me as a kid, convincing me at a very early age that writing books – putting your own thoughts onto paper and selling them – would surely be one of the best jobs you could ever find.
Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin: For the first time, as a slightly older youngster, this one showed me that that there could be art and poetry and rock. That it wasn’t just about three minutes on the dancefloor and had me spellbound with its gradual acceleration from gentle, acoustic ballad (filled with mystical imagery) to uptempo hard rock classic.
Highway Star – Deep Purple: Unabashed heavy rock, a thundering high-speeder that completely encapsulates the early days of metal, its shrieked-out lyrics but high quality musicianship combining to crystalize what at the time was a new and shocking musical form – and which I was just old enough to appreciate properly.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash – cover version by Johnny Winter: This mesmerised me when I saw it on the Old Gray Whistle Test in 1974. The original Stones song, which was written to celebrate the band’s return to their blues roots after some experimentation with psychedelia, always inspired me with its cocky, jack-the-lad, ‘get out and live your life’ attitude, but add JW’s incredible guitar skills, and the furious energy with which he attacked it, and you have what sounds like the background music to a tough, high energy street-thriller.
Halo of Flies – Alice Cooper: Another highly inventive metal classic, the US maestro of dark rock layering themes about espionage, crime syndicates and murder over a sophisticated progressive rock suite, creating a unique product. Once again, its subject matter appealed to me hugely, hitting my ‘crime and thriller’ button hard as I enjoyed the musical and lyrical excellence.
Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
My ability to write.
The works of other writers, including playwrights and screenwriters.
Musicians and their work.
Painters and their work.
Travel (far and wide), preferably by ship.
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Don’t spend too much time on short stories, write novels instead; shorts are an exceptionally satisfying way to express yourself, but the market for them is very restricted.
Be smart about what you write; it sounds bold and defiant to say that you’re only going to write what you personally like, but if you want to make a career out of creating fiction, avoid self-indulgence and ensure that your work is at least accessible to others – and bear in mind that just because you consider other genres too commercial or some kind of sell-out, that does not mean they are without merit.
Learn from your mistakes; if editors take the trouble to tell you why they’ve rejected your work, and the same explanation comes up again and again, you are very short-sighted not to take heed of it.
Read widely; do not just bury yourself in things you already like – get out of your comfort zone and broaden your horizons.
You cannot afford to let rejection bruise you; by that I mean laugh it off, because it’s going to happen all through your career.
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
As a junior, I was a pretty decent athlete, excelling at rugby league (which people who see me now would be amazed by).
As a schoolboy, I was invited to have tea with Ray Harryhausen after I wrote and sent him a comic called The Further Adventures of Jason and the Argonauts. I got to handle all those wonderful monsters up close.
My late father, Brian Finch, was a very successful screenwriter whose own career spanned four decades of British television, and who won a BAFTA shortly before his death.
I am descended from Charles Dickens on my father’s mother’s side.
I always dictate my first drafts onto a Dictaphone while walking my dogs. I consequently have the two fittest springer spaniels in Lancashire.
What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?
To sail around the world, visiting as many countries as possible, with no time-limit.
To then acquire my own yacht and traverse the world wherever I will (this one feels unlikely).
To see either one of my current series of novels on television or the cinema (Lucy Clayburn is the one currently under option).
To step out of my genre now and then and write the occasional serious literary novel.
To write a great historical novel.
Thanks so much for joining us today Paul, it’s been a pleasure to discover more about you. You’ve got some pretty impressive ancestory, the writing gene was obviously passed down to your father and yourself. You obviously appreciate the creative gene in other disciplines as well. Here’s hoping you get to write that great historical novel, perhaps while sailing around the world.
(DS Mark Heckenburg series – Book 1-7)
“All he had to do was name the woman he wanted. It was that easy. They would do all the hard work.”
Detective Sergeant Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg is investigating the disappearance of 38 different women. Each one was happy and successful until they vanished without a trace.
Desperate to find her missing sister, Lauren Wraxford seeks out Heck’s help. Together they enter a seedy underworld of gangsters and organised crime.
But when they hear rumours about the so-called ‘Nice Guys Club’ they hit a brick wall. They’re the gang that no one will talk about. Because the Nice Guys can arrange anything you want. Provided you pay the price…
Dark, terrifying and unforgettable. Stalkers will keep fans of Stuart MacBride and Katia Lief looking over their shoulder.
A vicious serial killer is holding the country to ransom, publicly – and gruesomely – murdering his victims.
When a man is burnt alive on a bonfire, it seems like a tragic Guy Fawkes Night accident. But with the discovery of a young couple on Valentine’s Day – each with an arrow through the heart – something more sinister becomes clear. A ‘calendar killer’ is on the loose.
Detective Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg is up against it. With a rising body count and the public’s eyes on him, Heck must find the killer before he executes more victims.
Because this killer has a plan. And nothing will stop him completing it.
A heart-stopping and grisly thriller that will enthral fans of Stuart MacBride and Katia Lief.
DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg is used to bloodbaths. But nothing can prepare him for this.
Heck’s most dangerous case to date is open again. Two years ago, countless victims were found dead – massacred at the hands of Britain’s most terrifying gang.
When brutal murders start happening across the country, it’s clear the gang is at work again. Their victims are killed in cold blood, in broad daylight, and by any means necessary. And Heck knows it won’t be long before they come for him.
Brace yourself as you turn the pages of a living nightmare. Welcome to The Killing Club.
His worst nightmare is back…
As a brutal winter takes hold of the Lake District, a prolific serial killer stalks the fells. ‘The Stranger’ has returned and for DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg, the signs are all too familiar.
Last seen on Dartmoor ten years earlier, The Stranger murdered his victims in vicious, cold-blooded attacks – and when two young women go missing, Heck fears the worst.
As The Stranger lays siege to a remote community, Heck watches helplessly as the killer plays his cruel game, picking off his victims one by one. And with no way to get word out of the valley, Heck must play ball…
Heck needs to watch his back. Because someone’s watching him…
Across the south of England, a series of bizarre but fatal accidents are taking place. So when a local businessman survives a near-drowning but is found burnt alive in his car just weeks later, DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg is brought in to investigate.
Soon it appears that other recent deaths might be linked: two thieves that were bitten to death by poisonous spiders, and a driver impaled through the chest with scaffolding.
Accidents do happen but as the body count rises it’s clear that something far more sinister is at play, and it’s coming for Heck too…
John Sagan is a forgettable man. You could pass him in the street and not realise he’s there. But then, that’s why he’s so dangerous.
A torturer for hire, Sagan has terrorised – and mutilated – countless victims. And now he’s on the move. DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg must chase the trail, even when it leads him to his hometown of Bradburn – a place he never thought he’d set foot in again.
But Sagan isn’t the only problem. Bradburn is being terrorised by a lone killer who burns his victims to death. And with the victims chosen at random, no-one knows who will be next. Least of all Heck…
Don’t let them catch you…
A Deadly Hunt
DS ‘Heck’ Heckenburg has been tasked with retrieving one of the UK’s most wanted men. But the trail runs cold when Heck discovers a video tape showing the fugitive in a fight for his life. A fight he has no chance of winning.
A Dangerous Game
Heck realises that there’s another player in this game of cat and mouse, and this time, they’ve not just caught the prize: they’ve made sure no one else ever does.
A Man Who Plays With Fire
How far will Heck and his team go to protect some of the UK’s most brutal killers? And what price is he willing to pay?
DC Lucy Clayburn series (Books 1-3)
A stranger is just a killer you haven’t met yet… The SUNDAY TIMES bestseller returns with the next big thing to hit the shelves. If you haven’t discovered Paul Finch yet, this book will have you hooked.
Unknown, alone, and fearing for your life: as PC Lucy Clayburn is about to find out, going undercover is the most dangerous work there is.
But, on the trail of a prolific female serial killer, there’s no other option – and these murders are as brutal as they come. Lucy must step into the line of fire – a stranger in a criminal underworld that butchers anyone who crosses the line.
And, unknown to Lucy, she’s already treading it…
As a female cop walking the mean streets of Manchester, life can be tough for PC Lucy Clayburn. But when one of the North West’s toughest gangsters is your father, things can be particularly difficult.
When Lucy’s patch is gripped by a spate of murder-robberies, the police are quick to action. Yet when it transpires that the targets are Manchester’s criminal underworld, attitudes change.
Lucy is soon faced with one of the toughest cases of her life – and one which will prove once and for all whether blood really is thicker than water…
How do you find the missing when there’s no trail to follow?
DC Lucy Clayburn is having a tough time of it. Not only is her estranged father one of the North West’s toughest gangsters, but she is in the midst of one of the biggest police operations of her life.
Members of the public have started to disappear, taken from the streets as they’re going about their every day lives. But no bodies are appearing – it’s almost as if the victims never existed.
Lucy must chase a trail of dead ends and false starts as the disappearances mount up. But when her father gets caught in the crossfire, the investigation suddenly becomes a whole lot more bloody…
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