Chatting to Pete Sortwell

SJIH: Hi Pete, thanks for popping in. The kettle’s on. Help yourself to biscuits! Your novel ‘So Low So High’ has just been re-released… how does that feel?

PS: It’s a mixture of feelings really. I’m hopeful that it might find a lot more readers this time, while I’m also a bit nervous that maybe the only people who bought it last time where the only ones who wanted it anyway.

I can say that I’m really pleased to have this back in my stable and under my control. That is the over riding sense I have, which I suppose we’d have to mark down as relief.

I can promote this as I please and not have to worry about running it past anyone or having to put up all the budget myself while still sharing the profits.

SJIH: Can you tell us about it in a couple of sentences? No spoilers please…

PS: So Low So High is a thriller, but not like a normal whodunit, it’s more a Willhelive. It’s written as that but also to put the reader into the eyes of someone with a chronic addiction.

SJIH: You’ve based it around the world of an addict. How ‘real’ is your fictional portrayal? I imagine you had to do a lot of research?

PS: A lot of the situations surrounding the story are true, although not to one person. I’ve worked with people either in or in recovery from addiction for almost nine years now, also being in recovery myself, some of the feelings and thoughts are that of how I felt when I was going through it. So in that sense very real.

SJIH: You’re better known for writing comedy and parodies. What made you want to write this one? What was your favourite thing about writing it? Was it the characters… the setting… the subject matter?

PS: I actually wrote this one first. It took me just under two years from start to finish. The comedy books were a bit of an aside which came about because I’d just lost a close friend who a character in the follow up is based on, and also because I’d just signed SLSH with a publisher and felt that I could now self publish without feeling like a failure. An outlook I no longer hold, and probably never should have, however, that was how I thought in 2012.

The comedy books have just done better than this one, which is one of the things that’s exciting about releasing this again as I can use all the tools I learnt with my other books to get this one out there.

My favourite thing about writing this book was to get to say something of things in the fictional world that I never could at the time (in the small parts that are based on real events).

I think the subject matter was something that motivated me to write this, I just wanted to put out there what it was like to live in that hopeless world of not being able to choose what it was you did that day. I know a lot of people say addiction is a choice. It’s a lot more complex than that, I have never met anyone in Simon’s position who left school thinking ‘I’m going to be injecting in my neck in ten years time’.

SJIH: Was it hard to be inside Simon’s head the whole time?

PS: I think it was actually quite therapeutic to write. It was nice to be able to look at things from the other side and add in the dry humour. I know it’s a tough subject to wonder what there is to laugh about but there is humour to be found in all situations, it’s just a case of how your portray it.

SJIH: So what’s next? What are working on now?

PS: I’m slowly working away on the follow up, Die Happy, Die Smiling. It’s something that is almost four years in the making. I’m committed to finishing it and releasing it next year though and am looking forward to really editing it into a good book.

SJIH: Who (or what) inspired you to start writing?

PS: It was being at school and seeing a book my father wrote in the school library. I thought it was so cool that he had his name on a book. For me there’s still something almost magical about books. Kept well they’ll last a lot longer than us and in a way they are a way of making us, if not immortal, then certainly a lot more memorable than the three score and ten we get if we’re lucky.

SJIH: What’s the most exciting thing about being an author? Are there any downsides? Do you have any advice for anyone just starting out?

PS: I think the most exciting things about being an author are sometimes overlooked (by me) by the amount of rejected or feelings of not being able to pull off the next book, but all in all there are exciting things, one of best that spring to my mind is hearing that my first short story was going to be published. More recently, hearing that an editor at one of the big five liked what she’d read and wanted to meet with me to discuss working together. Finally, and I’m not sure if I’d but this under the ‘exciting’ banner but meeting a lot of crime writers either at festivals or book launches is pretty.

SJIH: What have you enjoyed reading recently? Do you have any favourite authors we might not know about? You listen to a lot of audiobooks, don’t you?

PS: My book of the year is Steve Cavanagh’s The Defence. I met him last year and saw he had an audiobook out so I got it and listened, he has a fantastic way of story telling and the style is just right for me to listen to as I drive to work in the mornings. I do like Audio, mainly because my reading speed isn’t as quick as I’ like it to be, but also because I can listen to the books when I normally wouldn’t be able to read, I.e. driving. I’ve also enjoyed Luca Veste’s books which where recently released on audio and I have yours all lined up ready to go, too.

SJIH: Thanks – hope you like mine! And finally, the question that I ask everyone… What does no one ever ask you that you wish that they would ask you? 

PS: Q: How would you like your payment, gold or platinum? A: Both please.

SJIH: Er… the cheque’s in the post? Thanks, Pete. It’s been a pleasure talking to you. Best of luck with ‘So Low So High’  – I predict exciting times ahead…

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You can find out more about Pete and his books on his Amazon Page, on his Website and on Twitter and Facebook.Pete and Lilly

 

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