Tuesday 19 July 2022


Author P. D. Viner - The Call, The Last Winter of Dani Lancing and more - was kind enough to answer a few questions on his latest book and his writing. 

The Call, The Last Winter of Dani Lancing and The Sad Man have all been enjoyed by him in the past.

Is the writing full time or is there a day job? Can you offer us a potted biography of yourself?

Since I sold my first novel in 2012 writing has been more or less my full-time job, though I’m only able to do that as I get a decent amount of royalties from the range of audio products I developed and created from 1999-2010: The SamartPass audio guides to Shakespeare and the classics. I have also been lucky enough to have a freelance job that I’ve done on and off since 1999 and that has always been able to fill in the gaps in my income. However the pandemic pretty much put paid to that so this is a more precarious time than I would like professionally and financially.

You want a potted biography. Phil Viner born in South London, obsessed with film, lived at the local youth theatre through my teens, went to film school, graduation film showed at London Film Festival, spent three years trying to make a feature, got disheartened, ran away to find myself in holistic arts community, went to Russia for film masters, worked in US, worked in New Zealand, started SmartPass, got married (best thing ever), had daughter and was main parent at home, financial crash killed SmartPass, 2 year writing diploma and while there wrote first novel, The Last Winter of Dani Lancing published, Summer of Ghosts published, Warner Bros sell rights of Last Winter, screen writing (nothing ultimately happens with that), write three books that do not find a publisher, write The Call, The Call published May 2022.

I’ve recently read and enjoyed The Call.  Can you pitch it to a potential reader in 50 words or less?

The Call.  

Ben is woken in the middle of the night, he’s disoriented, it’s Mia, his wife of twenty years and she desperately needs his help. But where is she? All her things – her purse and phone and keys – are all in the house. Ben doesn’t understand what’s happening. She tells him she’s killed a man. Ben goes to her, to a seedy hotel where he finds a naked young man. Together they have to deal with the body, and as they make choices that will decide the rest of their lives, the last twenty years of lies and secrets seep out. But it isn’t just self destruction that they must face, but the family of the man Mia killed.

The Call begins at midnight and ends at 8am… they have one night to save their lives and their marriage. When dawn breaks will they even be alive?

I believe it’s your fifth published work after The Last Winter of Dani Lancing, Summer of Ghosts, The Sad Man and The Ugly Man. Which one are you most proud of?

Which would you press into the hands of a new reader first?

The Call is my first psychological thriller and I am really proud of it. My previous books all slot together in one storyworld: that of Dani Lancing and the parents (especially her crime journalist mother) who have been trying to find the truth about her death for twenty years. And the man who loved her, Tom Bevan, who has never got over her death and now runs a special sexual crime unit and still seeks the truth about what happened to Dani.

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing reveals what happened to her and Summer of Ghosts takes those characters further. The Sad Man is a novella that tells the story of Tom starting the sexual crimes unit and The Ugly Man is a case that Dani’s journalist mother cracked in the seventies.  I am really happy with the Dani Lancing novels so I do suggest you read The Last Winter.

Do you have a typical writing schedule?

My writing schedule. I like to write three days a week and the way I like to do that is Shut Up And Writes, where I get together with other writers and we write for an hour, have a break then write for another hour. Ideally four or five sessions in a day and I will end up with approx. 4,000 words. The other two days a week I daydream the rest of the story. I am a very visual person and think I am doing a kind of lucid dreaming as I create the book like a film in my head and speak the dialogue and cut scenes like a film. I make notes and sometimes dictate dialogue while I am in that state. So I break writing down into two actions, dreaming the story and writing the dreaming.

When you have an idea and you sit down to construct your story – do you know what the end result is roughly going to look like?

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

I don’t write until I have the story in my head, maybe not all the detail, but a good enough map to get me from A-Z.

My main complaint with novels and especially crime, is that the mystery and promise of the first two thirds don’t pay off in the end. Many writers create an amazing hook, but don’t have the ending needed to make the whole satisfying. I know where my book is going and the impact I want it to have before I write. Of course the writing process opens up a whole world of possibility, and things change but that basic map needs to be there so I never get lost.  

Was there one spark or germ of imagination which started the story off in your mind? 

I believe The Call was fleetingly titled Last Night Together. Why did it change?

There’s a long period between your last book and your latest one. I think Summer of Ghosts dropped in 2014 and nothing until The Call this year. That’s a long gap… anything you can share with us? Writer’s block, prison, life?

After Summer of Ghosts I had a time in the doldrums. I worked on two TV projects that ended up going nowhere and wrote three novels. The Boy in the Dark, The Funeral Director and then a children’s book The Last King of the Dragons. It was a very dispiriting time and I almost quit writing. The Call, which had always been called Last Night Together, was my (maybe) last throw of the dice. I wanted to write something intimate and explore a marriage eating itself from the inside as well as reacting to terrible external factors. I wanted the marriage to feel real and while not having to like Mia and Ben, I wanted the reader to feel they themselves could fall into that kind of mess given the same circumstances.

Are there any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?

My next novel with Hera/Canelo will be published in October: The Choice. It is a chase that starts in Brighton and ends on the Isle of Skye. A young woman is running for her life, from two evil brothers and the police who want her for murder. She has to stay free to finally find the truth about what happened to the man she loved. Was he a criminal, was he murdered – or was everything a set up? Can she get the justice she needs, or will she be chewed up and spat out. It is a rollercoaster of a ride.

What’s the current project in progress?

Currently I am writing a new novel titled, The School Gates. It starts on a Year four camping trip when two parents (not married to each other) meet in the middle of the night for a secret quickie and find a body in the firepit they made s’mores in that night. It’s a dark, twisted Motherland of adultery, lies and murder on the school run. I was head of the PTA at my daughter’s school for years so this has been deeply researched.


Many thanks to Phil Viner from his time.

Check out The Call. It's well worth a look IMO

‘Ben, I need you. Help me.’


‘It was an accident…but there’s so much blood…’

In a frantic late-night phone call, Ben learns his wife, Mia, has killed a man. And she needs his help.

When Ben arrives at Mia’s hotel room, the scene is horrific – but over the course of the night it will get much worse.

All their secrets will be uncovered, and they will discover how far they’ll go to protect themselves and each other… will they kill for love? Or will they die for it?

One phone call. Twelve hours to save their marriage. And their lives.

Told in real-time half-hour chapters, this is a read-in-one-sitting thriller that fans of T.M. Logan and Harlan Coben will devour. Sit down and strap yourself in for the rollercoaster read of 2022.


  1. Thanks, both, for a really interesting interview. I always like learning the way authors go about what they do, and I like the idea of planning writing time. It's a way of keeping disciplined about it. Wishing you much success.

  2. A very honest and inspiring interview. Thank you both for sharing. And I can vouch that The Call is a page-turner. Bravo in getting it out there!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the interview, Sarah. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  3. Another good interview, Col. He has an interesting system with that “shut up...” group of writers.

    1. I've never heard of that approach before, Elgin. If it works, it works.