Today I’m delighted to revisit my Five on Friday interview with Dominic Nolan who writes gripping dark and gritty crime thrillers. This feature was first posted in March 2019 and has been brought up to date to reflect Dominic’s latest publications.
Dominic grew up and still lives in North London. He worked various day jobs, ranging from call centre operator to fraud investigator, before selling his first novel, Past Life – the story of Boone, a detective who suffers a catastrophic loss of her memory and, struggling to reintegrate herself back into her past life with her husband and teenage son, decides to reinvestigate the missing person case that led to her getting hurt in the first place.
Over to Dominic:
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
You Don’t Miss Your Water – Otis Redding
Love Otis, and this William Bell cover is my favourite of his songs. Something about the slightly off-key opening – the Stax house bands were brilliant at that sort of thing.
Be My Baby – The Ronettes
A hangover from the compilation tapes my parents used to play in the car on family holidays when I was a boy. That Wall of Sound genius burrowed into my skull, and was reinforced in my teenage years when I discovered Mean Streets and Scorsese’s use of the track.
Ms Fat Booty – Mos Def
Inelegantly titled slice of hip hop brilliance from an era of rap that was key to me. Also makes splendid use of a sample of another favourite of mine – Aretha’s “One Step Ahead.”
Holland, 1945 – Neutral Milk Hotel
Another keystone song from my young adulthood, when so many influences get ambered into your soul.
Metamorphosis: One – Philip Glass
I hardly ever listen to music when I write (I work better to the white noise of a fan, for some reason), but Glass’s hypnotic, stripped back piano work here is a rare exception. Perhaps something about the subtle repetitions and variations running through this, but I could listen to it endlessly.
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
Books – an obvious choice for a writer, I suppose. I like writing surrounded by my books, and am in no way a peripatetic writer. I like writing at my desk, on my laptop, with my books. None of this coffee shop lark, or on a train, or in a hotel. I am resolutely a creature of habit, and my books are part of that.
Tea – any great British endeavour has been built on a nice cup of tea. Essential fuel for getting the words flowing of a morning.
My agent – this might be cheating as she’s also a friend, but the fierce and fabulous Nicola Barr of the Bent Agency has been the biggest influence on my writing life. She’ll claim I give her too much credit, but she championed me for almost a decade before we sold a book to a publisher. That kind of support is priceless.
Football – I’m strictly an armchair fan these days, but believe deeply in the power of psychic orisons channelled through the television/wireless/internet to the boys on the pitch, sometimes coherent, other times not so much.
Sleep – sleep’s bloody great, isn’t it? I like as much of it as I can get. Anything less than eight hours leads to barbarity. Your body refreshes itself, fixes ailments, and gives you weird dreams. Perfectly happy to spend a third of my life doing it.
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
Not really. For me, the things that happen to us along the way are all essential in making us who we are now and getting us to wherever we are. And right now, I’m publishing my first novel, which is exactly where I want to be, for all the good and bad things that have occurred along the way.
I thought about small specific things – like, when you and your brother are playing football in the living room when the parents are out, make you sure you move Mum’s valuable antique figurine into the kitchen first. But then, who’s to say if knocking that figurine’s head off didn’t have some unforeseen butterfly effect that shaped my future after that?
I wouldn’t risk changing a thing.
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I wanted to be a film-maker when I was younger, and spent my late teens and early-twenties messing about with 8mm and 16mm cameras (this was just before the digital tide), making unspeakably shit short films that will never be allowed see the light of day again. Cinema is still my first artistic love in many ways, and my fondness for old Hollywood pictures shines through in Past Life, I hope. What people might not know, is I have a particular love for old musicals. Gene Kelly is your actual American genius, and Jacques Demy’s work with Michel Legrand is a gift to cinema.
I can field strip and clean an assault rifle. At least, I used to be able to; it’s been a while. When the zombie apocalypse happens, I think I’ll swiftly get back into the groove.
A confession: I don’t get on with fiction being read aloud. I’m not a fundamentalist about it – people love audiobooks, and they’re an essential part of the industry, but I’ve never listened to them, and have no desire to listen to writers reading their own work out either. I think fiction should be heard in those whispering little voices in the back of your mind, the ones you could never articulate out loud; there’s an intimacy to it that is better internalised.
I like organising cupboards and shelves. Possibly I was a quartermaster in a previous life, but messy cupboards drive me crazy. Fellow travellers on the Headline New Voices Tour will attest to my particular interest in re-stacking/organising luggage on trains. I cannot be stopped.
Although Past Life is the first book of mine published, I wrote several previous novels which editors in their wisdom/folly chose not to pick up. It is the process of writing itself that I always loved, though, so I was content to plough on unpublished for years. Moral of the story – a published writer is often a persistent one. Never give up doing what you love.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
I’d like to cross an ocean on a ship (in my head, I’d be charging around a luxury vessel like Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve, but I suspect the reality would be me throwing up in a windowless room aboard a freighter).
Speaking other languages and playing musical instruments are akin to alien knowledge to me. I’d say I’d love to learn either, but I don’t think I possess the patience or fortitude. It’s a romantic idea, though.
To move into a house big enough to fit all the books I intend to buy.
Witness Liverpool win the bloody league title again (bellows at the television).
The big one: to continue to enjoy the privilege of being published – to get all the stories in my head out onto the page and into books in people’s hands. That would make the rest of life pretty much a continuous dream.
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SERGEANT LEON GEATS’ PATCH.
A snarling, skull-cracking misanthrope, Geats marshals the grimy rabble according to his own elastic moral code.
The narrow alleys are brimming with jazz bars, bookies, blackshirts, ponces and tarts so when a body is found above the Windmill Club, detectives are content to dismiss the case as just another young woman who topped herself early.
But Geats – a good man prepared to be a bad one if it keeps the worst of them at bay – knows the dark seams of the city.
Working with his former partner, mercenary Flying Squad sergeant Mark Cassar, Geats obsessively dedicates himself to finding a warped killer – a decision that will reverberate for a lifetime and transform both men in ways they could never expect.
After Dark (DS Boone 2)
A girl held captive her entire life
After a shocking discovery, the police must unravel a mystery that horrifies the nation.
A detective condemned as a criminal
Violently abducted while searching for a missing woman, D.S. Abigail Boone suffered retrograde amnesia – remembering nothing of her previous life. Defying the law to hunt those responsible, she now languishes behind bars.
A monster hiding in the shadows
In desperation, police turn to Boone – who fears a connection to the disappearance of a child three decades earlier…and a mysterious underworld figure whose name is spoken only in whispers.
Freed from prison, what will Boone sacrifice – and who must she become – to uncover the terrifying truth?
Past Life (DS Boone 1)
Detective Abigail Boone has been missing for four days when she is finally found.
Suffering retrograde amnesia, she is a stranger to her despairing husband and bewildered son.
Hopelessly lost in her own life, with no leads on her abduction, Boone’s only instinct is to revisit the case she was investigating when she vanished: the baffling disappearance of a young woman, Sarah Still.
Defying her family and the police, Boone obsessively follows a deadly trail to uncover the shocking truth. But even if she finds Sarah, will Boone ever be the same again?
Afraid of the Christmas Lights : Crime Anthology
IT WOULDN’T BE CHRISTMAS WITHOUT A LITTLE CRIME…
A Christmas dinner takes a murderous turn, a friendship group loses the festive spirit, and a young girl goes to extreme measures to keep a beloved dog.
Afraid Of The Christmas Lights is a collection of gripping, sometimes funny, and always festive short stories from a group of bestselling crime writers.
From the hilarious to the macabre, there’s something for everyone – whether you’re a Christmas convert or a bit of a Grinch. From a detective tracking down missing Christmas geese, to a cat lady who goes on a date in order to keep Santa Paws well fed, this anthology is the perfect gift to cosy up with this year.
Afraid of the Light : Crime Anthology
Some people are scared of the dark. But it’s the light that exposes the secrets.
A young boy with nightmares faces up to his demons. A deathbed confession turns the world on its axis. A five-year-old watches his parents bury a body in the garden. A soldier returns from the war to find the horror isn’t yet over.
Afraid Of The Light brings the imagination of fourteen bestselling crime writers together in a collection that will keep you up all night. From a deadly campfire game to a holiday gone wrong, to an AI assistant with a motive and a love affair that can only end in murder, this is a gripping, twisty set of stories to send a shiver down your spine.