Thursday 13 July 2017


Tony Black, co-author of Bay of Martyrs with Matt Neal takes a turn answering a few questions.

A few thoughts were posted on Bay of Martyrs here and co-author Matt Neals's Q+A session here.

I believe the writing is full time, you have a career as a journalist as well as being a prolific novelist (about a dozen books in the past nine years), which field do you enjoy working in the most?

Definitely writing fiction, it was always about the novels for me.

When working on a book what’s your typical writing schedule?

It's really all a matter of when I can get to work, until the deadline starts to loom and then I don't stop.

Are you a plotter your books or make them up as you go along? Does the end result usually differ greatly from how you envisaged a book at the start?

A bit of both. The crime books definitely have much more pre-plotting but I always keep my options open. The end result, and funnily enough the end, always seems to alter along the way.
Matt Neal

Bay of Martyrs, your latest is a co-authored book with Matt Neal, how was it conceived?

Over many beer-fuelled chats along the lines of 'we should really write a book together'.

How long did it take from conception to birth and the publication of the book?

Not that long, all within a year maybe.

I kind of think it must be difficult enough writing and creating something on your own, a collaboration seems to me to be twice as hard?

I wouldn't recommend it for two strangers, but I've known Matt for many years, we've worked together and understand each other. I could see there being difficulties if all that wasn't in place, but nah, we cruised it.

I have an overly simplistic thought in my head that you write one chapter, Matt writes the next, you write the third, back and forth etc - kind of thinking “what hole has he left me in now”…….no doubt it’s absolutely nothing like that – how did it work?

We brainstormed the concept, mapped it all out, Matt did the first draft and I did the second. There was a lot of re-drafting and re-writing after that, especially during the editing process but it was really very smooth. 

Were you both happy with the end result?

I think so, yes. I know I was and I haven't heard any complaints from Matt.

Will you be doing it again, will we see a second collaboration and a return of Clay Moloney?

Yes, we've a two book deal and we're well on with The Cutting.

Back to your own output – five Gus Drury books, a couple of Rob Brennans, three Bob Valentines – all PIs and Policemen, have you finished with these characters or is there more to come from them all?

It's only four Gus Dury books and a couple of long short stories. I'm doing another one right now, so Gus will be back soon. There's another Valentine book due next year too and I'd like to do another Brennan but it's all about finding the time.

Anything coming from the other side of the tracks, from an outlaw’s perspective?

I loved writing RIP Robbie Silva and The Ringer but they were really just novellas, if I could, again, find the time, I'd love to do another, lengthier novel from that perspective. I have a great one with a female protagonist mapped out, I've even managed to get a few chapters written, but it's been hamstrung by all the stuff I'm actually contracted to write.

You’ve also written a couple of non-crime novels relatively recently, one a historical book – The Last Tiger - is that what you see yourself writing more of in the future?
Short answer, yes. His Father's Son and The Last Tiger had great responses and I still get emails from people who really identified with those stories and characters, which isn't something you get that often with murder mysteries. I'd like to do more, perhaps when the demand for crime dries up.

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

I'm working on the new Gus Dury and the new Bob Valentine right now. They're both pretty well on, I'm just waiting for one to hit critical mass and then start dominating all of my time.
Who do you read and enjoy?

Barry Graham. He's a Scottish author with a great back-list of incredible books. The Book of Man, by Graham, is one of my all-time favourite books.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

Hanging out with my son. He gets all my free time and I have no complaints there.

What’s the last film you watched that rocked you?

The last film I can remember watching was Despicable Me 3. There's an 80s vibe running through it, which suited me to a tee.

In a couple of years’ time……. I'll still be here, hitting those word counts.

Many thanks to Tony for his time.

Tony has a website here. He's on Facebook here and on Twitter@TonyblackUk

Mr Black is a hard man to keep up with - see below for a full list of his books courtesy of Fantastic Fiction website - something for everyone!

His Father's Son (2012)
The Last Tiger (2014)

Series books.....
Gus Dury
1. Paying for It (2008)
2. Gutted (2009)
3. Loss (2010)
4. Long Time Dead (2010)
5. Long Way Down (2012)
6. Last Orders (2013)

DI Rob Brennan
1. Truth Lies Bleeding (2011)
2. Murder Mile (2012)

Doug Michie
1. The Storm Without (2012)
2. The Inglorious Dead (2014)

DI Bob Valentine
1. Artefacts of the Dead (2014)
2. A Taste of Ashes (2015)
3. Summoning the Dead (2016)

Clay Moloney (with Matt Neal)
1. Bay of Martyrs (2017)

Killing Time in Vegas (2013)
London Calling (2013)
The Lost Generation (2013)
The Crime Shorts (2013)
The Sin Bin (2014)

RIP Robbie Silva (2012)
The Holy Father (2012)
Ten Bells at Robbie's (2013)
The Ringer (2013)
Stone Ginger (2015)

Non fiction
Hard Truths (2013)


  1. Really interesting interview, as ever. Thanks, both. I admire authors who are both prolific and consistent. And I can imagine a collaboration can make things quite complicated, even if you do know one another really well. Wishing you much success.

    1. Margot, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I did get a few of his early books when they first came out, but I then kind of took my eye off his work........and boom - look how far behind I am now. Him and his laptop seem akin to a gremlin when you pour water over it!

  2. It is interesting to hear about how two authors collaborate on a book. Tony Black's books sound worth checking out too.

    1. Yes, I'm in awe of authors who create something memorable on their own, a collaboration seems even more difficult to me. I think you might enjoy his work. There's a few to choose from!

  3. Thanks for the interview, Col. Always a pleasure to read how authors write, and juggle their personal and professional lives. I'm going to have to look up Tony Black's impressive bibliography.

    1. Prashant, I'm sure you'll find something to tempt you!