Sunday 26 March 2017


Northern Irish author, Simon Maltman answers a few questions for me about his reading and writing habits....

Is the writing full-time? What’s the day job or what were you in your pre-writing life?

I'm certainly doing it a lot more, but I am officially a stay at home dad for a year or 2. It gives me a chance to do a lot of writing on the side. Previously I was a manager in social care. Hopefully the writing will continue to keep me busy and I'll keep on building up an audience. 

What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?

I suppose it has to be the publishing of my first full length novel last year- A Chaser on the Rocks.  Seeing it in a few shop windows too was quite a buzz!

What’s your typical (book/story) writing schedule?

When I'm working on something in particular, I try and do an hour or 2 every night. In between there's always social networking and promo type stuff to be doing as well. Altogether, I always spend a few hours each day on writing related stuff.

Do you insert family, friends, and colleagues into your characters?

Yeah I do a bit! I've also taken a couple of opportunities for revenge haha- won't say where!  Generally though, my characters aren't really based on one person, I'd certainly steal aspects of real people.

Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

Mostly as I go along- and that really is the fun part. Whenever I do work out various plot points, it's usually not when I'm actually typing and that can be exciting and I scramble to get a pen so I don't forget it.

Are there any subjects off limits?

Not really, but I don't choose to write anything that's extremely violent or horrifying. It's been bad enough giving my book out to my highly religious older relatives -peppered with f-bombs on most lines. It's not me it was the character! - that's what I say anyway.

Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?

The crime collection out on 23rd March (More Faces) has 12 of my short stories and it's nice having them together in one place. That's most of what I've been working on the last few years. I've just finished the first draft of my second novel too, so that'll be the next big thing for me.

Can you tell us a bit about your previous books?

A Chaser on the Rocks is 'a story in a story' and follows a modern PI with mental health problems. The second strand is actually the stories he has written about a 1940's PI working during the Belfast Blitz.  It's set throughout Northern Ireland and I'd say it's a psychological thriller.

Is there one of your books you’re more proud of that any of the others? Which and why?

I suppose it's again the full length novel. It’ll always be special as it's the first time I tried to write a novel and took a lot of work. I'm also really pleased with the response that it got. 

What are the last five books you have read?

Dark Minds Crime Anthology - various -including me ;)
Exit Music - Ian Rankin
Sour Lemon Score - Richard Stark 
Short Stories - Graham Greene
The Little Sister - Raymond Chandler

Who do you read and enjoy?

I'm a bit of a dinosaur maybe (though I'm only 35) and am terrible at keeping up with all the most current writers. My favourites are Raymond Chandler, Ian Banks and Richard Stark. 

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

That's tricky- I'd loved to have written anything by Raymond Chandler with his abundance of colourful similes and turn of phrase.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

I love playing and recording music. It's nice to switch to that sometimes for a change of scene. I used to play and gig a lot before fatherhood! 

What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going?

It's the drafting of my second novel. It's been going grand - though I'm at the stage where I'm getting a bit tired of re-reading it!

What’s the best thing about writing?

The stories appearing from nowhere! 

The worst?

Breaking through the pain barrier when you're stuck a bit, like around halfway through a novel. Also going through track changes after a round of edits gets soul destroying after a while!

In a couple of year’s time…

New York Times Bestseller! Haha I don't know- hopefully I'll still have publishers interested and people will keep buying my stuff.

Thanks again for having me!  
Thanks to Simon for his time. His short story collection More Faces was on the blog yesterday - here.

You can catch up with him on Facebook here and on Twitter@simonmaltman


  1. As always, great interview, for which thanks, both. And there's nothing wrong with being a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to the writers one prefers. Some of my faves are the classic and Golden Age writers, too.

    1. Margot, thanks. I've yet to read Chandler, or at least read him as an adult - I have a dim recollection of attempting him in my teenage years. I do agree with him regarding Richard Stark and the Parker books though.

  2. Col – Another terrific interview. Thanks. I, too, need to go back and re-read Chandler. It has been too long.

    1. Cheers Elgin. I should see what I have from Chandler in the stacks and try soemthing.

  3. You know, Col, I'd love to be a stay-at-home dad and writer. Not because I hate going to the office but because that's the only way I can get any serious writing out of the way, now that the kids have grown up.

    1. Prashant, I'd happily be a stay at home reader!

  4. Nice interview, as ever. Your questions always bring out some good answers.

    1. I'm caning those interviews. A more regular feature I think, I like doing them.

  5. Nice interview, interesting answers from Maltman.