Happy Thursday! This should have gone live yesterday but life is manic, so a day late (sorry Tony!)…..but I have a Meet the Author post for you today! We’re talking to Tony J Forder about designing wrappers for Opal Fruits (now know as Starbursts for all those youngsters out there!) and Maltesers, the strangest thing that’s ever happened to him (which gave me goosebumps and made me sad all at the same time!) and his most recent book, The Death of Justice.
Tony J Forder
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Currently a full-time author having been made redundant in 2016. London’s east-end born and bred, I’ve now lived in Peterborough for the past 30 years. Many moons ago I had some success with short stories, and it felt great. I have to say, being a novelist feels even better.
What inspired you to start writing?
Reading Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. It was the first fantasy book I’d read, and it made me realise you could just use your imagination to invent stories with all these weird and mystical characters and creatures in it. I wrote countless stories after that, featuring countless fictional lands.
How many books have you written and published?
I recently had my eighth book published, the fifth in my DI Bliss series. I seriously still can’t believe I’ve had that many books published.
Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?
A tough one, as I have different reasons for liking different books. Degrees of Darkness has a special place in my heart as it was the first book I wrote; Scream Blue Murder was written for my dad who’d gone off reading. He liked action-adventure thrillers and I decided to write one for him to read. Sadly he never got to read it, though of course it still means a lot to me; but I guess I’d have to say it’s the latest one…I think it pulled together all the lessons I’ve learned and became my best book yet.
How do you choose the names of your characters?
It varies. With DI Jimmy Bliss I simply wanted to have a name that was the opposite of all the tough guy names being used. I’ve used the surnames of several old Chelsea football club players, and on occasion I’ve plucked character names out of IMDB.
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
I think Jimmy Bliss would keep my spirits up, and he probably has the most meat on him so if I had to eat him he’d last longer than the others.
Who is your favourite author and which of their books is your favourite, and why?
Michael Connelly is my favourite crime writer, especially his Harry Bosch books. However, my favourite book of his is not a Bosch at all. It’s The Poet, a serial-killer novel which I think really shows his ability for suspense.
What is the first thing you can remember writing?
When I was at school I wrote a story about what life might be like in England if the Germans had won the war. I think I won a prize for it, but I could be wrong about that.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
Many. In the early days they ranged from being an illustrator and designer in a commercial art studio (I designed wrappers used by both Opal Fruits and Maltesers) to a stonemason. I had my own business for a while in property development. By far my longest job was in IT, designing, installing and managing computer networks in education.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go? (Backwards or forwards!)
I guess I’m supposed to say I’d go back and kill Stalin or Hitler or something like that, but actually I’d choose 1986 because I’d buy as many Microsoft shares as I could afford.
If you could have one conversation with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I know it’s a cliché, and I apologise for it, but it has to be my dad. I’d love to tell him about the relative success I’ve had as an author, and to discuss the book I wrote for him, Scream Blue Murder, in particular. We could also have the conversations about sport and music that I so miss.
What are your favourite things to do?
Other than writing and reading, I’m obsessed by music. I bought my first record when I was 10, which was Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks. I’ve bought many thousands since. I’ve played guitar since I was about 12, and would have loved to have been a professional musician. Sadly I never acquired the same level of aptitude as ambition, but I enjoyed my time with various bands and meeting several musicians who either went on to become famous or were –and in some cases still are – major stars.
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
In the summer after I left my junior school I was walking down the street close to home when I saw one of my best friends from school. I called out his name and ran across the road. There was a lorry between us, but when I got to the other pavement my friend wasn’t there. I assumed I’d been mistaken. That same day two other friends from school called round to see if I wanted to go swimming. I told them I’d seen our mate Alan. They both looked at me oddly, and then told me Alan had been killed in France on holiday with his parents. He’d looked the wrong way when crossing a road, and had been struck by a lorry.
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
Keep going and believe in yourself more. A lack of confidence has been a major stumbling block for me over the years. It ruined my dream of being a musician, and almost did the same with my writing.
Name one book you think everyone should read?!
Puckoon. It’s by Spike Milligan, and it’s the craziest, funniest book I have ever read. I have never laughed so hard or so often nor as openly as I did when reading that. I swear people moved carriages on the train rather than listen to me howl and weep as I devoured Puckoon page by page on my way to work.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it:
The Death of Justice is a fast-paced crime book – part procedural, part thriller. It’s book #5 in my DI Bliss series, and provides a slight change in style from the previous books, whilst still keeping faith to the series and its characters. It can be ordered from all book stores, and is of course available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Justice-heart-stopping-crime-thriller-ebook/dp/B07X8PFVLD
Thanks so much Tony for this fab interview and apologies for the slight delay! Your strange incident is so spooky and sad at the same time. And I love that you’d go back in time to buy Microsoft shares!
Any questions for Tony, then get in touch!
Have a wonderful day!