A.D. Garrett interview with David Alan Binder

posted Nov 21, 2016, 6:11 PM by David Alan Binder

A.D. Garrett interview with David Alan Binder

 Bio:  A.D. Garrett is the pseudonym for prize-winning novelist Margaret Murphy, working in consultation with policing and forensics expert, Helen Pepper.

 Margaret Murphy has written nine psychological thrillers – both stand-alone and police series. Her work has been published in the UK and the USA, and in translation across Europe, receiving accolades from broadsheets and tabloid newspapers alike, as well as starred reviews from Publishers’ Weekly and Booklist in the United States. A CWA Short Story Dagger winner, she has been shortlisted for the First Blood critics’ award for crime fiction as well as the CWA Dagger in the Library. Margaret is founder of Murder Squad, a touring group of crime writers, and a past Chair of the CWA. She is an RLF [Royal Literary Fund] Reading Round Lector, RLF Writing Fellow at the University of Manchester, and has tutored creative writing at Masters level, as well as presenting talks and workshops in creative writing for library groups and literature festivals. She has been a countryside ranger, science teacher and dyslexia specialist, and her lifelong passion for science is reflected in her painstaking research for her novels.

 In 2013, writing as A.D. Garrett, Margaret began a new forensic series, featuring Professor Nick Fennimore and DCI Kate Simms. Everyone Lies, which Ann Cleeves rated ‘thriller writing at its best’, was a bestseller, and Believe No One, described by Publishers’ Weekly as a ‘stellar thriller’, has garnered much praise. Truth Will Out, the third in the series, is due for publication November 2016.

 Website www.adgarrett.com

 A.D. Garrett on Good Reads:

 A.D. Garrett on Amazon

 Shelf Indulgence and Forensics blogs

 Margaret Murphy (A.D. Garrett) Author

Helen Pepper is a Senior Lecturer in Policing at Teesside University. She has been an analyst, Forensic Scientist, Scene of Crime Officer, CSI, and Crime Scene Manager.


1.     Where are you currently living?

The north west of England, near Liverpool, birthplace of The Beatles. I wrote a blog about the north west settings in my books for the Jaffareadstoo blog – read it here.


2.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

You need to accept outside editorial criticism with good grace, develop an inner editorial voice, and learn to listen to it.


3.     Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?

My A.D. Garrett books are published by Corsair, London, an imprint of Little, Brown. (I also publish psychological thrillers with Orion Books, as Margaret Murphy)


4.     Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

Both have a place in readers’ lives, and eBooks have given debut authors and indie authors an opportunity to make a start in a difficult business. Make no mistake – it is a business, as well as an art – and we forget that at our peril. Before eBooks, most novels published by the traditional route went out of print after about 3-5 years – but an eBook can be available as long as it’s listed on one of the online bookstores. Ebooks also allow authors whose works have gone out of print to bring their backlist onto the market for a second term. That, I think is one of the most positive things to come out of the e-publishing revolution.


5.     Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?      

There’s no real secret to it, unless there’s a secret formula to conjure up a big sprinkling of good luck on your manuscript before you send it off. But here are a few practical tips: you need to work hard, know the market and where your novel fits within it, and be professional about editing, presenting and submitting your work. That means you should never submit your work until it’s absolutely as good as it can be. Of course, it helps if you have a high profile to start with, because every publisher likes a good marketing opportunity, but not many debut authors have that . . .


6.     How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent?  Any tips for new writers on getting one?

The hard way. This was in the early 1990s, pre-internet. I worked through a publication named The Writers & Artists Yearbook, published back then by AC Black, checking who the agents represented, and working out where my novel might fit in their list. I submitted to 17 before I got picked up by an agent. The technique is not that different today, but because communication is so much better, Google can take the slog out of the search, making it easier to find out where the agents’ interests lie, as well as how and what to submit. Follow any instructions carefully!


7.     Do you have any suggestions or help for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?

Write every single day. When you do want to write, when you don’t want to write, when you have a cold or headache or a hangover, when you’re too busy or too tired – take time out to write. I began writing when I was teaching full time as head of Biology in a senior school, as well as studying for a qualification in teaching dyslexic children. I have Lupus, and at that time, I was also having flares that affected my mobility, energy levels and (more scarily) my brain. Writing was an escape as much as reading ever was – I enjoyed it, and it took me away from the everyday. Sometimes for as little as 30 mins, but that was enough. You can do it – you just have to want it enough, and be prepared to put in the work.

8.     How many books have you written?

Three forensic thrillers as A.D. Garrett, but I have also published psychological crime /mysteries as Margaret Murphy. I have nine of the psychological novels already published. These books were shortlisted for the CWA Dagger in the Library, and I have two waiting to be brought into the light.

9.      Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?

Read, analyze, practise.


10.                         Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

Don’t force it. But if I were you, I’d take a tip from film and TV: try to think of the worst thing that could possibly happen – then make it happen.

11.                         What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

Oh, lord, you know I’m British, right? But here goes…

I think a real strength of the A.D. Garrett books is the writing partnership between a Dagger Award-winning novelist and a forensics expert.  You see, A.D. Garrett is the pseudonym for me, novelist Margaret Murphy, and forensics and policing consultant, Helen Pepper. Helen also advises on Ann Cleeves’s Vera and Shetland series, so she knows a thing or two. Many reviewers have admired the Garrett novels’ forensic and procedural accuracy, but also their emotional core, which means readers can engage fully with the central characters. Yes, we’re both passionate about getting the science right, and we work hard to achieve that, but what’s the point, unless you have a gripping story and characters you can care about? I think we have brought all three to every story in the Fennimore & Simms series.


12.                        What are some ways in which you promote your work?

Twitter and Facebook, mostly, but I also write a regular book review feature for my local magazine.

I’ll let you in on a secret: I resisted Twitter for a long time. I once said, in front of witnesses that Twitter was for Twits.  (Since this is confession time, I’ll admit it was the committee of the Crime Writers Association). I was wrong. Or at least partly wrong – there really are some twits on Twitter, but there’s also a lot of fascinating information and equally fascinating people, as well as opportunities to connect with your readers and other writers. So get out there and connect. Not the ‘I’M SHOUTING ABOUT MY BOOK – LISTEN TO MEEEEE!’ kind of connection, though. Instead, share info and insights into writing, or writers, or your favourite books, talk to writers and readers, support others in their endeavours.


Top tip: Twitter is also good for encouraging concise and precise language – so it will improve your editorial skills!


13.                         What saying or mantra do you live by?

Do as you would be done by.


14.                        Anything else you would like to say?

I review books on Goodreads and I also have a book review column called Shelf Indulgence, which is published in print by Heswall Magazine (Heswall is my home town). And if science is your thing, Helen Pepper blogs about her insights into forensics on the A.D. Garrett website.