Today on The Tattooed Book Geek I am pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for From The Inside (a D. I. Graves Thriller #2) by WD Jackson-Smart. Bringing you all a doubleheader of an author interview and book excerpt.
From The Inside (a D. I. Graves Thriller #2).
- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 521 KB
- Print Length: 327 pages
- Publisher: Panther Publishing; 1 edition (1 July 2019)
- Amazon UK
Two victims. Brutally murdered in their own home. Body parts taken.
D.I. Graves is back on the case to face his toughest challenge yet. A case with no motive and no suspect, nothing at all that could explain why someone would kill innocent people in such a way.
Then the next victims are discovered. Another pair of bodies. New body parts taken. Again in their own home.
Someone is breaking into houses across the city at night, leaving horror in their wake. It seems to Graves that this could be two serial killers, working together. But how are they choosing their victims? Is any house in London a target? Is anyone safe?
To make matters worse, a journalist is threatening to cause more harm than good with her obsessive push in covering the story to further her career, and someone is targeting Graves personally, seeking revenge against him in relation to an old case.
Can Graves keep himself safe long enough to stop the serial killers before they strike again?
1 – Would you please tell us about From Inside The House?
From Inside The House is my take on the home invasion genre. Horror subgenres are a focus of the DI Daniel Graves series, and I love home invasion films, so I wanted the second book to take on this sub-genre. It’s about two killers teaming up to break into people’s homes in the night and murder them. To make matters worse they are taking body parts too. Of course there is a reason beyond the killing, but you have to read to find out what that is!
In this second book, Graves also starts to grow more as a protagonist. In book one he has found himself wrapped in a homicide case on his move to London, and this doesn’t sit well with him for various reasons. He also had to deal with a very unexpected death, the ramifications of which carry over into book 2. He is gaining confidence in himself but numerous things continue to threaten to pull him apart, so his ongoing struggles are a recurring theme.
2 – If you had to summarise From Inside The House in one sentence, what would it be?
Two vicious killers are breaking into homes to commit murder, and no one is safe!
3 – Where did the idea for From Inside The House come from?
As I mentioned I love home invasion films so those inspired me. I wanted to try and do something slightly different though. Since the film Strangers a lot of stories in this sub-genre have done away with motive because it makes the murders scarier. This is of course true but I think it has been done now, so I wanted to write a story where there is motive but the detectives on the case are struggling to discern it, and therefore they have no idea of predicting who could be killed next. I think this in itself is very scary, that thought if wondering if you could be a target, when you know there is motive but you don’t if you fit into that pattern.
4 – What was your favourite part of writing From Inside The House?
I loved writing all of the scenes that revolve around the victims themselves. I adore slasher movies so I tried to instil beats of slasher movie attack sequences into this book, but of course always based in someone’s house.
I also really enjoyed writing Kelly Malone’s storyline. She’s a journalist, a new character to the series, and she is extremely determined, which doesn’t always play in her favour. She was a great character to write and I loved her throwing spanners into the works of Daniel and Charlie, the lead detectives.
5 – From Inside The House is the second D.I. Graves book, what does the future hold for the series?
I want to write quite a few Graves books. I’m already part way through book 3, of course taking on a new sub-genre in horror. I introduced quite the cliffhanger at the end of book 1 and I want this to continue through the entire series, or at least as long as it makes sense. Book 2 definitely feels the effects of this ending in the previous story, but it isn’t resolved. As Graves faces a new case with each story there will this resuming drama outside of his main cases that is only going to escalate further, as someone out there seeks to truly destroy his life. It’s complicated making this work if I’m honest but I think it will have an amazing pay off. I think once I’ve covered every horror sub-genre then perhaps this series will come to and end but let’s see. There are lots of topics to cover!
6 – If you had to make a music playlist to accompany From Inside The House what songs would be included?
Oh wow that’s a tough question. There’s a fantastic song called That Man by Caro Emerald that I think is a wonderful opening track to go with how I’ve written that opening scene. It’s an upbeat, fun and jazzy track that I think would really compliment but also juxtapose the tension of the first chapter.
There’s also a few tracks by Royksopp that I reckon would work well, they have one or two tracks that have an undertone of menace that I love.
And then I like to think that Daniel has similar tastes in music to me. Wide ranging but coming back to upbeat pop and occasional shouty rock as he’s careening off towards a new crime scene. Think commercial Marilyn Manson contrasted with electronic chart music, blasting from the speakers either way.
7 – When did you decide to become a writer?
I was sat watching a film at the cinema when I was perhaps 18 or so, and a scene played in front of me that I thought could have been much better written. I’ve always been creative, coming from an arts a literature led education and background, and so I decided to try my hand at writing. At the time it was just another way to vent some of my creative thinking, and my first book was honestly terrible. It still sold quite well though, and more importantly I gained a lot of very useful feedback from it. I decided that maybe I actually had some talent in writing, albeit a talent that needed to improve and grow, and I’ve continued ever since.
8 – Why do you write/What inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve been brought up on books. Both of my parents read a lot, one of my sisters too, and so I was brought up to value the wonder of books, to cherish discovering new stories and becoming totally absorbed in other worlds. Of course I’ve described when I thought I should start writing but honestly I think it was a bit of an inevitability that I would start writing. Both of my parents have always said that they wished they had written a book each, and in fact my dad did I think, though he never did anything with it. I decided to take it one step further and try to publish at least one book.
9 – What do you find to be the most rewarding part of writing?
It sounds horribly self-centred but honestly I love people telling me they’ve loved reading one of my books. It’s just so vindicating. I don’t focus on sales or entering charts (as nice as both of those things are), but if even one person out there tells me they’ve loved one of my stories it means the world to me. It makes it so much more worthwhile.
10 – What do you find to be the hardest part about writing?
For me it always the same issue – timelines within a story. In TV and film it’s easy, you don’t really tend to question what a character has been up to when they aren’t onscreen, but I think it’s so much more noticeable in a book. Making sure that timelines are sensible and that it’s clear to the reader what Graves particularly has been doing when a chapter focuses on someone else is tough!
11 – If you were asked to give one piece of advice to an aspiring writer what would it be?
I always say the same thing. Plan ahead. You don’t need to know all the intricacies of your story but you should know how it starts and how it ends and you should know some of the beats that happen along the way. Otherwise, and trust me I know from experience, your story will totally take on a life of its own and not go in the direction you intended it to. I’m sure that sometimes this works but often it just makes your narrative messy and confusing, and certainly aimless too. So plan.
12 – When writing are you a plotter or a pantser?
I can’t say I even know what that means, so let me describe my writing process in a way I know how. My method is writing as though I’m watching a film in my head. I describe my style as very filmic – I need to be able to imagine exactly what a scene looks lie, or how a character is acting. If I can’t quite imagine something I rewrite it.
13 – Have any authors influenced your work?
Most definitely. Historically I’d say writers like Dean Koontz and Christopher Pike. I lived for Point Horror and Pike’s teen horror series. More recently I read more crime but I jump around authors a lot. I reckon though a lot of film and TV has probably influenced me more than other authors. If I’m blunt I think a lot of commercial fiction, the types of book you see in the charts in a shop, are poorly written and lazily conceived, and so the only inspiration I take from them is to try and do better. They sell because they have marketing behind them, not because they are good, so I like to get recommendations of smaller writers I don’t know about, or that I just discover accidentally, and I think you can learn from any author honestly.
14 – What are your top five favourite books?
Another very hard question! I loved Needful Things by Stephen King, Circe by Madeline Miller was fabulous, I also enjoy cheesy nonsense like The Meg by Steve Alten. The Haunting of James Hastings by Christopher Ransom is also brilliant. He’s a bit hit or miss but that one is excellent. And then Out by Natsuo Kirino, what a brilliant book that is. I often recommend it!
15 – If you were writing your autobiography what would you call it and why?
Hmm, maybe something like Horror and the Geek – I really love horror and thriller/suspense, but I’m also very geeky. I’m a gamer, I like comics and anime too, and so no autobiography about me would be complete without those elements.
16 – When you aren’t writing how do you like to relax?
I love gaming. I play a lot of computer games, normally single player epics with strong stories. And I’m always up for the cinema and also theatre. I really enjoy theatre and living in London I’m treated to some of the best around. It’s expensive and a treat to be sure but you can’t beat a good play and live acting when it’s done right.
17 – If you could change one thing about the state of the world, what would it be and why? – your answer can be serious, fun or both.
Serious first. I’m genuinely troubled by the state of our environment and how badly our world is treated. I really wish governments would take our planet more seriously. There are already signs that we’ve destroyed our planet in many irrevocable ways but if enough people cared then we could change things. Unfortunately I think people as a rule are not bothered because they can’t necessarily see the effects on their own lives.
Fun answer, for everyone to be a horror nut like me. I chat about horror all the time and sometimes the response is one of ‘okay good for you!’ In my pretend world everyone would be as obsessed with horror as me. And there would loads more slasher films in cinemas!
18 – Do you have any last words for the readers of this interview?
Honestly just that I hope if any readers out there decide to read my books that they enjoy them. Simple as that!
From Inside The House Book Excerpt.
As he switched the kitchen light off the room disappeared, the moon finding gaps in the trees outside to cast ripples and tendrils of soft light across the slate countertops, dusting the kettle, toaster, knife rack. The green display on the oven showing the time was the only source of unnatural light, flashing gently, a tiny beacon in the dark. He turned and padded out into the hallway, the wooden floorboards chilly under his bare feet.
The house was still save for the typical creaks and clicks that came with a building settling in for the night. He could just about hear the wind outside, its invisible fingers searching through the neighbourhood, and felt that welcome feeling of security that came with knowing the elements could not get in, that the house would protect.
Without turning the hallway lights on, he checked that the chain was in its slot on the front door and that the bottom lock was engaged. The action was a habit, one taken every night. He barely noticed he had done it. With a yawn he swiveled and took the stairs up, glad for the change in temperature from wood to carpet, the thick threads poking up between his toes.
The blossoming light in the bathroom made him squint, his eyes not prepared for the brightness. The bulb was a daylight type, to allow one to see their reflection better, but it was harsh and unforgiving. He frowned at his tired mirror image then grabbed his toothbrush, loaded it up and started brushing. The scratching of the bristles against his teeth seemed awfully loud and he pushed the door shut. He didn’t want to wake up his wife. That never went well. She was the proverbial sleeping bear that should never be poked and he did not have the energy for another argument. The evening had already seen enough of that.
He had come home late again, not entirely deliberately, although if he were honest with himself he knew he hadn’t exactly rushed to get back. They were trying for a baby. The problem was he didn’t want one. At least he didn’t think he did. He wasn’t sure, not really, but it didn’t feel quite right. He loved his wife, but a child? It just didn’t sit well. Naturally he had not voiced this to her beyond signs of very mild doubt. The fact that he had got home late, too tired for them to try, had not gone down well at all. After a tense dinner and a back-and-forth sniping session largely revolving around his lack of commitment to the cause she had stormed off upstairs and he had let her, feeling like a shit but undeniably relieved, which only compounded the guilt further.
He jumped when the bathroom window rattled angrily next to him, whipped by the wind outside. It seemed to be getting stronger out there, a vague recollection of morning news and a weather warning seeping into his tired brain. Another thing for her to complain about. Why haven’t you fixed the window? I’ve asked three times!
Again he felt guilty. In his head it was so easy to paint his wife as a nagging, irritating drain, yet he knew it wasn’t really true. Not all the time anyway. She was funny, kind, fiercely loyal. Was it enough though? He wasn’t certain anymore and had no doubt that a baby would not fix that. He felt like a total bastard, not sure what do with his feelings beyond weak attempts to bottle them up.
He spat out the toothpaste, rinsed the sink and checked the window, just to be sure. It was locked. A little loose true, but locked. It would hold. The weather wasn’t that bad. Maybe he could fix it next week. It could wait.
As he stepped out onto the landing, flicking the bathroom light off behind him, he stopped, his gaze fixed on their bedroom door. Would she be up still? In bed reading, the heat of anger vibrating across the room at him? He glanced at the spare bedroom, considered it for a moment before disregarding the thought. That would only make things worse.
From downstairs came a click, clear and distinct.
Still motionless, he pricked his ears, waiting. He couldn’t place what it was but the sound did not come again. He dismissed it. Probably another bloody window needing repairs, lucky me.
Rubbing fingers in his eyes he realised just how exhausted he actually was, made worse by having refused to go to bed in avoidance of more arguments. He pushed open the door to their room and let out a hushed sigh of relief when he saw that his wife was fast asleep. As quietly as he could, he got undressed and slipped under the covers beside her. She didn’t stir. He felt a tension in his shoulders release, not even having known it was there to begin with, and let sleep take him.
He woke when something pressed down on his mouth, firm, rough. He felt groggy and as he went to take a breath he struggled. The scream caught in his throat against the gloves over his mouth as he locked stares with the masked man standing over him, the whites of those all-too-clear eyes glowing in the dark, wind-battered house.
About WD Jackson-Smart.
WD Jackson-Smart, 35, is a London-based horror and crime fiction author who has been writing crime and horror fiction since 2011. His novel Red Light was self-published on Amazon and charted in the top twenty best selling Suspense / Thriller Kindle books on release.
His horror short story, What’s Yours Is Mine, was shortlisted for the Horror For Good anthology.
His first crime thriller Slasher, about a serial killer targeting slasher movie actresses in Hollywood, is out now, and he has launched a brand new crime series set in London and starring D.I. Graves. Demons is the first in the series, and the sequel From Inside The House is set for release in June 2019.
As well as his passion for horror and crime thrillers in all forms, WD Jackson-Smart also loves art and design, having studied Fine Art and Art History in Leeds and Toronto and working as a graphic designer for the majority of his career.
Find WD Jackson-Smart:
The D. I. Graves series (so far)
- The Demons Beneath (2019).
- From Inside The House (2019).
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