Howard’s debut novel The Drop was voted as one of the Top Five Thrillers of 2011 by The Times. Harry Potter producer David Barron and JJ Connolly, author of Layer Cake, are joining forces to produce a TV adaptation of The Drop. The follow-up novel The Damage was voted a top Summer read by The Times.
Howard Linskey has worked as a barman, journalist, catering manager and marketing manager for a celebrity chef, as well as in a variety of sales and account management jobs. Originally from Ferryhill in County Durham, he now lives in Hertfordshire with his wife Alison and daughter, Erin. Howard is a long-suffering Newcastle United fan.
Howard Linskey will be reading at today’s This Is Horror event with Sarah Pinborough, Alison Littlewood and Jasper Bark.
What first attracted you to crime writing?
I’m not too concerned with genre. I just dream up a story and get writing then let others categorise it when it’s done. My books tend to be classed as thrillers or crime-thrillers because of the gangster element but, like many writers my age I grew up reading horror; particularly Stephen King and the late-great James Herbert. Those guys definitely influenced a generation of writers in all genres. In my books it tends to be evident in the gruesome fates handed out to some of the characters. I think my wife reads some of my stuff and sometimes wonders about the mind of the man she chose to spend her life with.
What is your most notable work?
I’ve written three books; The Drop, The Damage and The Dead that make up the David Blake trilogy, about a white-collar gangster who becomes a reluctant crime boss in Newcastle. They’ve been successful thankfully and are just about to be launched in the US. There’s a TV series in development too.
What are you working on now?
After three David Blake books I fancied a change. I’m writing a completely new story about a journalist who returns home to investigate the disappearance of a missing girl. While he is there an unidentified corpse is found that has been undiscovered for sixty years, so my journalist has two big mysteries to solve and a bunch of other problems to contend with in his own life, so he has a lot on his plate.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
I bought every James Herbert book when I was growing up and loved The Rats, The Lair and The Fog. It was great to read horror stories set in Britain that I could identify with far more than the usual stuff set in the US. I think many authors my age grew up reading Herbert and I was sad to learn of his death earlier this year, as he was part of my childhood; at least my early teens. I like horror that features real and believable characters so you care when bad things occur to them later, so I’d include Ridley Scott in my list for his superb crafting of the first Alien Film, which is a great blend of horror and sci-fi and James Cameron for creating the Terminator; aka Frankenstein-with-a-gun, a great character.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
I tend to keep most of the violence and gore off the page and leave a lot of it to the reader’s imagination, which is much more powerful than anything I could describe. I will often lead a reader to a situation and give them all the information they need then close the door on them before the blood is spilled. In my view that’s way more effective than graphic portrayals of spilled guts and splintering bones.
Why should people read your work?
The Times voted The Drop one of its Top Five thrillers of the Year and The Damage was one of their ‘Top 12 Summer Reads’. My books have reached the top five in the Amazon Kindle book charts. You can check out all the reader reviews on Amazon and I wouldn’t point you in their direction if they were crap. The David Blake books have been optioned for TV by the producer of the Harry Potter films and he seems to know a good thing when he sees one, so hopefully you’ll like them too.
Recommend a book
Eva Dolan’s excellent debut, Long Way Home is not a horror story as such but it does contain horrifying parts, not least the burning alive of a murder victim. The book isn’t out yet but I was lucky enough to be asked to read a pre-publication copy and it’s terrific. It takes you into a terrifying world of gang masters and the illegal trafficking of workers who are turned into slave labour, with little chance of freedom, which is a pretty horrifying prospect. I reckon it will be massive so you can tell your mates you read it first.
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