Today I’m delighted to revisit my Five on Friday interview with James Delargy who writes haunting, atmospheric thrillers. This feature was first posted in Sept 2019 and has been brought up to date to include James’s latest books.
James Delargy was born and raised in Ireland but lived in South Africa, Australia and Scotland, before ending up in semi-rural England where he now lives.
He incorporates this diverse knowledge of towns, cities, landscape and culture picked up on his travels into his writing. He would like to complete a round-the-world series of novels (if only for the chance to indulge in more on-the-ground research).
His debut thriller, 55, was published in April 2019 by Simon & Schuster and has been sold to 21 territories to date. It has also been optioned for feature film by Zucker Productions in partnership with Prodigy Pictures.
Over to James:
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Sam Stone by John Prine – This is a fantastic song about drug addiction in a man returning from an unstated war and was a song that myself and my brothers would sing as kids in the car, not understanding the meaning behind the words, ‘There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes…’
It is so poetic and tragic including the ending where the veteran is ‘climbing walls while sitting in a chair.’ My favourite line of all comes from the refrain: ‘Sweet songs never last too long, on broken radios’ which is immense. It was written when the singer was just 25 which amazes me to this day to be that profound and wizened that young.
Jockey Full of Bourbon by Tom Waits – There are literally a hundred tracks that I could choose from Tom Waits. My favourite artist full stop. From crooning, heartfelt songs such as Looking For The Heart of Saturday Night, Tom Traubert’s Blues, Martha and Alice to semi-spoken word classics such as Step Right Up, What’s He Building and Frank’s Wild Years to screeching, powerhouse songs such as God’s Away on Business, Anywhere I Lay My Head and I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.
He has the entire range from crippling pathos and desperation to character-driven songs that find humour in the darkest places.
A song Come on Up to the House has one of my favourite lyrics, a biting retort, ‘Come down off the cross, we could use the wood.’
I could choose any song from Rain Dogs but I’ll plump for Jockey Full of Bourbon as it is a tale of murder and treachery, full of wonderful characters, all set in a locale that is described so perfectly.
In the House, in a Heartbeat by John Murphy – This is an instrumental track that I use when I am sitting down to write, normally late at night when its dark and quiet. It is a heart-pumping number that starts off with a quiet piano before eventually building into an electric guitar crescendo.
As it lacks lyrics it is a good piece to listen to as there is no temptation to sing along.
Everlong by Foo Fighters – Another song that just builds and builds throughout. A thumping, blood-pumping track that is only improved by the classic video.
All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow – This is a lovely, boozy tale of just hanging around and reminds me of doing nothing when I should have been studying. ‘All I wanna do is have some fun. I get the feeling I’m not the only one.’
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
Chocolate – I have to resist eating it too early in the day otherwise it’s all I’ll eat.
Writing – Being immersed in a story provides a sense of utopia that is hard to replicate.
Sport – I’m a sucker for watching sport and zoning out. I get relaxation from watching other people running around.
Music – it can inspire or soothe depending on the scene that I might be writing at the time.
Internet – there is just so much to find out about the world. I have to ration it otherwise I’ll find myself heading down endless rabbit-holes of information but useful and useless.
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
Make the most of school holidays. You won’t always get 2 months off (its two months in Northern Ireland) in the summer with free food and rent.
Take every opportunity to get abroad. Meet new people and cultures. Sometimes it will be hard but it is worth it.
Toast tastes better with butter.
Appreciate your family and the people that you grew up with. You won’t be around there forever to say hello to them every day.
Try some writing. Don’t wait until your mid-twenties to get into it. Everyone has something to say, no matter if you grew up in the middle of nowhere. Keep going despite the rejections and the self-doubt. As long as you enjoy writing it, keep going.
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I once shot my brother through the lip with a homemade bow and arrow.
I have a day job so I write from 10pm to 2am.
I have a mobile phone that is 8 years old. This makes social media difficult.
I have done a skydive.
I love the TV show, Deadwood. The dialogue so poetic and fantastic. As well as the show itself being one of the greatest made.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
I’d love a Number 1 UK and international selling book. That would be in there for sure.
Play football in the Nou Camp
Visit Machu Picchu
Become a full-time writer. At least for a couple of years anyway.
Watch the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
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When you go looking for a new start, make sure you don’t find a nightmare instead.
The Kane family, Lorcan, Naiyana and their young son, relocate from Perth to Kallayee, an abandoned mining town in the Great Victoria Desert to start over again, free from their chequered past.
The town seems like the perfect getaway: Peaceful. Quiet. Remote. Somewhere they won’t be found.
But life in Kallayee isn’t quite as straightforward as they hope. There are noises in the earth, mysterious shadows and tracks in the dust, as if the town is coming back to life.
But the family won’t leave. No one can talk sense into them.
And now, no one can talk to them at all.
They’ve simply vanished.
Now it’s up to Detective Emmaline Taylor to find them… before it’s too late.
TWO SUSPECTS. TWO IDENTICAL STORIES.
WHO IS TELLING THE TRUTH?
On a scorching day in Western Australia, a man named Gabriel stumbles into the remote police station in Wilbrook. He is badly injured, covered in dust and dried blood. He has fought his way through the surrounding wilderness to escape a man named Heath.
Heath drugged Gabriel, took him to a cabin in the mountains and tied him up. He told him that he would be his 55th victim. Heath is dangerous. He is a serial killer.
Just as Police Sergeant Jenkins launches a manhunt to find him, Heath walks into the station with a story to tell: he was drugged by a man named Gabriel, chained up and told he would be his 55th victim. Gabriel is dangerous. He is a serial killer.
The two victims are also the two suspects. Which one is telling the truth?
Afraid of the Light : An Anthology of Crime Fiction
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.
Are you Listening? – Adam Southward
Daddy Dearest – Dominic Nolan
Deathbed, Beth Dead – Elle Croft
Loveable Alan Atcliffe – S R Masters
Sleep Time – Phoebe Morgan
Coming Home – N J Mackay
Sausage Fingers – Victoria Selman
Just a Game – Rachael Blok
Drowning in Debt – Heather Critchlow
To Evil or Not to Evil – Jo Furniss
Sheep’s Clothing – Robert Scragg
Frantic – Clare Empson
Planting Nan – James Delargy
Shadow – Kate Simants
All profits from the sale of this anthology will be donated to two frontline domestic abuse charities: