Susi Qs – Week 44 – Rob Parker

Today’s guest is one of the nicest chaps in the whole crime writing world… it’s Rob Parker! Rob is a married father of three, who lives in Warrington, UK. The author of the Ben Bracken thrillers, Crook’s Hollow, Blackstoke and the Audible bestseller Far From The Tree, he enjoys a rural life, writing horrible things between school runs. Rob writes full time, attends various author events across the UK, and boxes regularly for charity. He spends a lot of time in schools across the North, encouraging literacy, story-telling and creative-writing, and somehow squeezes in time to co-host the For Your Reconsideration film podcast, appear regularly on The Blood Brothers Crime Podcast, and is a member of the Northern Crime Syndicate.

Hello, Rob!

Have you ever had your fortune told?

Nope, but my wife did, just before she fell pregnant with our first. The result was a lot of stuff that missed the mark by some distance, but there was something like: ‘you will have a baby with someone beginning with the letter R.’ Obviously it was deemed as portentous. I thought maybe a quick facebook search might have already pointed said sage in the right direction.

Have you ever heard voices in your head?

Not that I can remember, but I do try out dialogue in my head all the time. Actually, thanks to lockdown and my family being home a lot more in the last 18 months, it turns out I don’t try it in my head that much at all, and just speak out loud in different voices like I’m having some kind of breakaway episode.

When was the last time you were arrested?

I love the implication that I’m a serial offender. But the closest I’ve ever come was when my friend and I jumped out of a taxi at university, and there was a sign on a wall that he, for some reason, took an immediate shine to—and started to pull it off. Something about the whole thing didn’t feel right to me, and my vision started to pull back, almost like in a film going from a close up to a wide, and I saw that the building in question was the back of Lancaster police station, a security camera was watching the whole thing and the sign itself read: ‘Police Vehicles, No Waiting’. Two bobbies appeared just as the sign dropped off into my friend’s hands, and my friend was led away for the night. He cemented himself in folklore by shouting over his shoulder to me: ‘Mickey mouse arrest!’ as he was led away, then proceeded to do press ups all night in his cell because he’d ‘seen 50 cent do it in a music video’. I was left on the street dumbfounded.

What is your most unrealistic ambition?

At 38 now, with every year that goes by, I’m like: ‘huh, looking less likely I’ll play for England’—without ever taking into account the small matter of an obscene lack of talent.

Where’s the worst place you’ve been sick?

Under a bunkbed on a lads’ trip away… which was forgotten about. ‘Anyone know what that smell is?’ Not good.

What would you cook on come dine with me?

All disguised as something posh, I’d go with a pepperami to start, pot noodle for main, and a kinder egg for desert—done in the style of that chap who tried to create the swankiest restaurant in London from his back garden, serving microwave meals on old plates. I reckon I could get away with it, especially when I dump out the noodles into a small bowl and lay a sprig of parsley on the top.

What’s you favourite joke?

‘If I see a cougar in the wild, I’ll puma pants.’ I’m still laughing now.

Do you prefer buttons or zips?

Depends on the item of clothing, and the location on the person. I’d love to see an experiment though, like a zip on a tux. Could be very Roger Moore.

Do you find it hard to take criticism?

I love criticism. It’s pure fuel. If it’s constructive, you’ve got tools with which you can improve. If it’s not, and it’s nasty, then even better—because now I want to beat you. Criticism is win win for me, always has been.

Is there life on other planets?

I sincerely hope not. ET gave me night terrors for years as a kid. Something about his rancid screeching and wet-nosed shuffling in the woods that always gave me the heebie-jeebies. Then when he appeared coming out of the shed at Elliot’s house? Looking like a reanimated poop with a long neck. Absolute nightmare fuel. So, if the aliens are like that, please no, let’s hoy them off that bridge towards the end of the movie and have done with it. I also really don’t like those grey ones with the big black eyes. There’s something utterly repellent about them. Any other intergalactic species is fine.

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If you want to know more about Rob, you can find him on twitter @robparkerauthor. His books can be found HERE.


Susi Qs – Week 36 – Chris McDonald

This week’s guest is the very prolific and very funny Chris McDonald! Chris grew up in Northern Ireland before settling in Manchester via Lancaster and London. He is the author the DI Erika Piper series A Wash of Black, Whispers In The Dark and Roses for the Dead. He has also recently dabbled in writing cosy crimes, in the shape of The Stonebridge Mysteries, as a remedy for the darkness. He is a full time teacher, husband, father to two beautiful girls and a regular voice on The Blood Brothers Podcast. He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs.

Let’s hear it, Chris…

What was your favourite toy?

I’m a slave to Sony. I’ve had every PlayStation since it’s conception and almost exclusively play FIFA (which I am shit hot at!). If anyone fancies a game, do let me know. I’m very happy to embarrass someone. 

Where was your best holiday?

We went to Lake Garda for our honeymoon. Our hotel was right on the water, the little town was bordered by mountains and it was stunning. We paddleboarded (I couldn’t stand up), canoed, kayaked and ate a lot of pizza. We did day trips to Venice and Verona and had a smashing time. The best bit, though, was discovering Coke came in 500ml CANS!!! Why aren’t they sold here?!

Who was your first crush?

Probably Jet from Gladiators. 

What’s your favourite joke?

Q: What’s the best thing about Switzerland?

A: I don’t know, but the flag is a big plus.

My actual favourite joke is rather crude, but if anyone wants to hear it, do let me know!

What’s your favourite kitchen appliance?

My initial response was the toaster. It’s a work of art. But, without the fridge, you couldn’t keep the butter cool, rendering toast useless. Also, chocolate from the fridge is the only way to eat the stuff, so I’ll go for the fridge. I’m learning lots about myself. 

Who’s your favourite cartoon character?

Probably Homer Simpson. The Simpsons has long gone off the boil, but back in the day it was genius. I still say things now that Homer said 20 years ago like ‘Stupid Sexy Flanders.’

What’s your most unrealistic ambition?

To write full time or to go to space. Both are never gonna happen!

How many pairs of shoes do you have?

I have one pair of trainers, one pair of Astro turf footie boots, one pair of wellies, a pair of converse where the sole has come away from the rest of the shoe but I can’t bear to part with, and a pair of wellies. I wear my only pair of trainers to death and then wonder why they don’t last that long. 

Have you ever broken a bone?

Yes. I was having a water fight with some friends and I ran into some bricks. My little toe immediately crumpled. We went to watch The Mummy Returns afterwards and I had to leave as the pain was making me feel sick… or that was the excuse I gave anyway! 

What’s the most annoying thing?

I’ve been on this campaign for years and I’ve finally got an audience. The most annoying thing, BAR NONE, is how Ben Shepherd talks to the machine on Tipping Point like it’s a person. I know he’s trying to polite, but it’s an inanimate object. You don’t need to say please every time. Makes my blood boil.

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If you want to know more about Chris, you can find him on twitter @cmacwritescrime. His books can be purchased HERE.