Today we’re going to be chatting with Simon Critchell, co-author of 21:24.
Hello Simon, thanks for taking time out to engage with the fans and readers. For those who have not read 21:24, you may want to catch up so you know what’s going on. We don’t want anyone upset about spoilers!
Q1: First, for anyone who is interested in picking up the book, can you tell us where the title and idea for 21:24 came from?
The book has its roots in the idea of poetic justice. I have a general frustration with how justice looks around the world and am often horrified by stories I see of people either getting away with murder (and various other horrific crimes) or being wrongly accused and/or stitched up for the same. My co-author, Jason, and I first connected following the case of The West Memphis Three. So that was a quite famous case of injustice. When we started talking about writing together the injustice theme was flipped and our fodder was evil deeds going unpunished properly. The classic quote, and one of the most ancient quotes, concerning poetic justice, comes from the bible. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth. You will find that in Exodus: 21:24. So that is the source of the name.
Q2: How hard was it to write a novel with a co-author. I know sometimes we connect on a deeper level with someone who has the same vision or ideals as we do, but to work with someone and then try to maintain continuity, there had to be some challenges. What were some of the ones you guys faced, and how did you overcome them?
It was an incredibly smooth process. We nutted out the general idea, then fleshed it out. Slowly built up a map of the book. Then we just took turns, back and forward. We didn’t have any dramas about direction because we had established it all prior to kicking off. Generally as it got written we both cast our eyes over the chapters and it didn’t really take too long to get to 100k.
Q3: What I love about this book is the strong female character. Not many men can pull it off. Was there anything special you guys did to ensure your characteristics were authentic? Did you feel a certain connection, or disconnection, from the main character?
I think it is all about empathy. There are people with zero empathy and those of course are your narcissists, they only focus on themselves and what they want. They don’t feel for others and consequently they can do awful things to people, including those they love. On the other end of the scale are empaths, who connect with all living thing on a level. I can’t speak for Jason, but I find it fairly easy to get into the mind of characters, whether they are male, female, weak or strong. I have a belief that women have been wrongly downtrodden across the globe and really felt it was important to create a strong female lead. I am very anti sexism, racism, all those things. I judge people by their actions, not their skin or gender.
Q4: 21:24 deals with some really sensitive and graphic subject content. I know a lot of horror writers go into it like decorating a house for Halloween-meaning, it’s an afterthought or enhancement of the “horror”. Was it like that for you, or was there some reason you targeted this kind of content?
The thing is, 21:24 deals with some uncomfortable realities. Many of the crimes in the book are influenced by real crimes that have happened. The reader isn’t necessarily going to know that, but it makes writing them realistically easier to do. Whilst the realism may be easier, it is quite uncomfortable to dive into them as a writer, knowing that you are basically trying to relive genuine horror. In some ways, and following on from the previous question, it is a bit like being the Will Graham character of Red Dragon in that you get so close to actually experiencing the horror without actually.
Q5: Our readers may not realize you’re actually in Australia but spent time in the UK. What differences do you see in the horror from one place or the other, and how do you incorporate that into what you write? Did you discover the differences changed your voice or style in anyway?
Interestingly it is kind of the perfect combination of experiences. Australia is a beautiful place to live. It is chilled out, lovely weather, beaches, pools, just a really lovely location. That makes most work easier in a way. You know, I wake up and literally see wild kangaroos hopping past the bedroom window. My life in England was very different. It was cold, grey, so many people, so many sad people. I lived a 1 hour train trip from the centre of London and used to commute in with millions of other people. Everyone was dull, grey and kinda miserable. There is also a rich history of horror in London. So you could say that the London years feeds my writing and Australia facilitates it.
Q6: Being a new author is a challenging endeavor. Being an author in another country has its own separate challenges in addition to coming into a new industry. What has been the biggest challenge for you going into this, and what advice would you give others in the same boat as you?
I think the thing that shocked me was the naïve notion that writing the book was the work. No, that is the fun part. Selling the book is the work.Unfortunately many creative people are not naturally blessed with promotional skills. That is my frustration. I would coach a new author to bone up on selling their work, and develop some good promo skills.
Q7: Simon, thank you for taking time out for us. What’s next for you, and what should we keep our eyes open for?
Well, those who get the hardback of 21:24 will get a taste of 24:20, the sequel to 21:24. There are a couple more books in the series also planned after that. There is also a guy in Hollywood currently working on a 21:24 screenplay, so you never know!!!
Thanks again for spending time with me today. It’s always a pleasure getting to chat with you. Follow Simon on Amazon by clicking HERE.