Today I’m delighted to feature crime author David Beckler. David writes fast-paced action thrillers populated with well-rounded characters. His Mason and Sterling series centres on two ex-Royal Marines, Byron Mason who now runs a security company and Adam Sterling who is a firefighter. Long Stop Books published Brotherhood, the first novel in the series, in September 2019 and the second, The Profit Motive, in December 2019. The third, Unprotected, will come out in 2021. Brotherhood is set in Manchester and The Profit Motive in Manchester and Wenzhou, China.
Born in Addis Ababa in 1960, David spent his first eight years living on an agricultural college in rural Ethiopia where his love of reading developed. After dropping out of university he became a firefighter and served 19 years before leaving to start his own business.
He began writing in 2010 and uses his work experiences to add realism to his fiction.
He lives in Manchester, his adopted home since 1984. In his spare time he tries to keep fit—an increasingly difficult undertaking—listens to music, socialises and feeds his voracious book habit.
Over to David
Which piece of music/song would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
The first track is “Love Letters in the Sand” by Pat Boone. Mum and Dad weren’t big music fans and had a few singles. This was the first one I remember hearing.
“Exodus” by Bob Marley is the title track of the first album I bought as a teenager. I first noticed the cover. The title is written using offset Amharic letters, familiar from my youth, but I loved every track.
“Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” by Ian Dury and The Blockheads, their album New Boots and Panties was one of the soundtracks to my time at university. I discovered years later that this “punk hell-raiser” used to volunteer at a Surrey hospital, taking the patients for music therapy.
“Hand in Glove” by The Smiths evokes my move to Manchester in 1984. Every pub and nightclub played The Smiths almost non-stop.
“Ain’t Got No, I Got Life” by Nina Simone. She recorded several versions, but the live version from Hair is my favourite. It was the track that introduced me to one of the best female vocalists around. If anyone doesn’t know her story, she wanted to be a concert pianist but the music college she applied to refused to take her – a shameful period in US history – and she started singing in Jazz clubs because she needed to make money. Classical music’s loss is our gain.
What (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
I’m sure everyone has said, books. Pre-eBooks, I often had panic attacks if I neared the end of one book before I had a new one lined up. This only happened when I was travelling, as I have a pretty extensive TBR pile at home.
Coffee. Again, most authors I know are coffee addicts. Dorothea Brande, in her book “Becoming a Writer” suggests you write as soon as you rise, before you properly wake up: “Hitch your unconscious mind to your writing arm.” I tried it once.
Music. Writers either find music interferes with the rhythm of their writing, or it helps them focus. I belong to the latter group and rarely write without music in the background.
Long walks. I’ve always been active, taking part in many sports, and doing so has always helped my wellbeing. As I’ve got older, I’ve had to slow down and am now much more likely to go for a brisk walk than visit the gym.
Being able to meet friends. This is one of the things we often take for granted, but the current restrictions we live under has given us all a taste of what it would be like if we can no longer do this.
Can you offer a piece of advice for your younger self?
Get to know your elders – especially grandparents – as people, rather than someone playing a role, as soon as you can.
If there’s something you enjoy, continue to do it, even if you’re not brilliant at it. I loved writing stories and drawing the scenes on notepads, but my stories were, ‘too long and unstructured’ and my drawings ‘lacked subtlety.’ I was good at maths and physics, so ended up focusing on those subjects until I started writing my first MS at the age of 50.
Once you’ve learned a language, keep using it or you’ll lose it. I was bi-lingual until the age of 10. By the time I was 20, I could barely remember a few words of my first language.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and if you do, don’t leave it until it’s too late. People are often keen to assist others, but if you don’t tell them, they won’t offer.
Consider the long-term implications of your decisions, not just what they mean for you now, but what they could lead to.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you
Although I grew up on a farm and we’ve always had pets while I was growing up – we once had four Alsatians, several cats, a tortoise, many rabbits and a rescued Dikdik – I’ve never had a pet of my own.
Even my partner of 32 years didn’t know this one. During my 11+, I was filling in my age and where it said months, I put 132 – I was 11 four days before the exam, so knew not to round up.
When I was about six I got caught in a locust swarm, and although I don’t think they were trying to attack me, it gave me nightmares.
Around the same time, a column of Safari Ants attacked me – to be fair, they were defending their nest. To get them off me – they were literally in my pants – Mum filled the bath and plunged me in it.
This one goes back even further. I was around three, and my parents were hosting a party for the staff at the agricultural college Dad ran. Unable to sleep, I decided to investigate the sounds of merriment and fell head first into a crate of beer, cutting my eyebrow open on a bottle. I had the scar until around 30 when my eyebrows decided to spread and cover it.
Tell us something you’d still like to do or achieve.
I want to make enough from writing to give up my other jobs.
This follows up from one, and that is, to live in various European cities for several months at a time, get to know them well and write novels set there.
Set up a charity to help disadvantaged families give their children opportunities denied them by lack of funds.
Get one of my series picked up by a TV or film company.
Last Christmas I organised a family get-together for my Dad’s side of the family. Over 100 attended, but an even larger number were unable to make it. I’d like to organise another where they could all attend.
Many thanks for sharing with us David. I loved your music choices, being of a close vintage they brought back memories for me too. When I hear Ian Dury I am always transported back to dancing with my bestie. I’m with you with music and books, definitely couldn’t live without them. Great advice to get to know your elders. I never knew my maternal grandparents and my paternal grandparents were lost to me before I reached an age to really ‘know’ them. As my Dad also died relatively young I’ve got lots of unanswered questions. You were certainly accident prone as a youngster, I hope you’ve grown out of that? I really hope you get to achieve some (if not all) of your dreams. Living in several cities to get to know them well sounds my idea of heaven. When life returns to normal maybe that will be possible, though that family get together will probably be on your to do list first.
Brotherhood (Mason & Sterling Book 1)
What do you get when two ex-Royal marines come up against a former child soldier and the most dangerous gangster in Manchester?
Byron Mason and Adam Sterling are old comrades, who will always have each other’s backs. Byron receives a call for help from his estranged nephew Philip. Despite a serious rift between him and the boy’s father, Byron rushes back to Manchester.
Recently promoted DCI Siobhan Quinn, keen to prove herself in a new force, is thrown in at the deep end, heading up an investigation into a brutal murder. She meets firefighter Adam at the crime scene, and can’t deny a mutual attraction.
There’s only one problem, Philip is her chief suspect and Adam’s loyalty to Byron means he has to help the boy, whatever it costs him.
Byron and Adam have a bigger problem, the victim’s uncle is Ritchie McLaughlin, a notorious gangster with a long-held grudge against Byron. Add in ex-child soldier, Mugisa, who’s determined to punish Philip for betraying him, and you have an explosive mixture.
Byron has to build bridges with his brother while keeping Philip out of the hands of the police and two very dangerous adversaries. Will he and Adam succeed, or will McLaughlin finally take revenge against Byron?
The Profit Motive (Mason & Sterling Book 2)
When firefighter Adam Sterling rescues glamorous businesswoman Kate Hetherington from a road smash, he has no idea of the impact it will have on his life.
Kate’s father, James, is badly injured in a car crash in Wenzhou, China. Senior Inspector Jie Gang is convinced it was an attempt on the man’s life, but he’s not allowed to say so.
Kate asks half-Chinese Adam to help her find out what’s going on. When James disappears, Adam recruits fellow ex-Royal Marine and best friend, Byron Mason to assist him in the search.
They arrive in China to find Jie struggling. Not only is he facing an implacable assassin Zhang, but opposition from powerful interests who want him off the case.
Then Kate disappears, but who has taken her? The police seem reluctant to search for her, but unable to speak the language, unfamiliar with the city, and without any allies, Adam and Byron are up against it. When they seem to be getting somewhere, a rescue operation goes wrong, and Zhang turns his attention on the two men.
As they frantically search for Kate and James, they have to keep out of Zhang’s clutches, and avoid the authorities.
Will they find them in time and discover who is behind the attacks?
Forged in Flames (Mason & Sterling Novella 1)
Manchester, England 1996
Ex-Royal Marine and Firefighter, Adam Sterling, rescues Kim from an inferno. She reminds him of someone in his past.
Kim is being targeted by a violent arsonist, but why? She’s in witness protection, but even Eddy Arkwright, the policeman investigating her attack, can’t find out why.
Adam feels compelled to help her, but can he keep her out of the clutches of the people hunting her?
He has to use all his abilities as a firefighter plus some older skills as he fights to survive and save Kim.
The Money Trap
London, England 1996
Ex-Royal Marine Byron Mason is used to fighting for survival, but when he comes up against Gideon Metzler, a ruthless financier, he’s out of his comfort zone.
He’s building a successful business to support his growing family and stretches his resources to land a big contract. When Metzler puts pressure on him, he worries if he’s made the right decision. But these opportunities don’t come along every day.
After a series of misfortunes, he finds himself fighting for the future of his business. He has to dust off old skills whilst trying to master those he needs to survive in a new environment he discovers is as ruthless as any he’s encountered.
Alongside Adam Sterling, an old comrade, he begins the fightback. But, outnumbered and outgunned, will the two of them survive against a determined enemy?
Then Metzler makes an offer which will make his problems disappear.
Byron has to choose between the safety of his family and doing the right thing.