Interview with Wilkie Martin, Author of Razor

28 Jan 2020

What can you tell us about your new release, Razor?

It is a dark comedy with a pinch of fantasy about a man calling himself Razor who is riddled with guilt after the death of his wife. When an attempted suicide is foiled, he realises he lacks the courage to try again and comes up with a brilliant plan—he hopes to end his life by heroically rescuing vulnerable people in danger. To his annoyance, a pair of mysterious strangers befriend him and keep getting in the way and as life stumbles on, he comes to realise there was more to his wife’s death than was apparent. He can’t find out what it was unless he stays alive, and someone wants him out of the way.

Although it changed course during the writing, Razor began as a sort of anti-Jack Reacher character, a world-weary hero lacking special skills, knowledge and courage.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I’ve always enjoyed stories and took to reading them from the moment I could make the written word make sense. When I was a child, my favourite part of the day at school was the time when we were given free rein to write our own and the impulse has always been there. Probably every book I’ve ever read has inspired me, but reading Tolkien as an adolescent had a massive impact. Having to work and getting into scuba diving took up too much of my time and I wrote little for too many years until I noticed the local college was running creative writing classes. I signed up, enjoyed it, learned a lot and decided writing was what I wanted to do.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

I’ve read so many great books that singling out a top 5 seems mean to the rest of them! In addition, some authors such as Terry Pratchett, Tom Sharpe and Dickens wrote so many that it’s difficult to pick a favourite. However, here’s this week’s top five best books: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham, The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

I’d love to talk to Neil Gaiman, who seems to have an unlimited imagination. I’d ask him about graphic novels because he appears to be a master of the form and I don’t really understand their appeal. What am I missing, Neil?

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

The part where the characters dictate that the plot must move in a totally unexpected direction. For me, that’s when an abstract set of ideas starts to become a story. I also enjoy it when a draft has been re-written and edited to the point where it suddenly feels like a novel.

What is a typical day like for you?

Too many years working in an office got to me and I tend to work between 9 in the morning and 6 in the evening, though most days I also take some exercise and have a walk to ensure I am not too sedentary. At weekends, I tend not to write much, and find a break can allow new ideas to flower.

What scene in Razor was your favorite to write?

The one where Razor encounters a mentally unstable homeless man sheltering beneath a bridge. The poor man is terrified by a black-clad demon that Razor just can’t see, but Razor uses the opportunity to find a clue to a bloody murder.

Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?

Not really, but I’ve always liked this one from Terry Pratchett: ‘They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it’s not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.’

Wilkie Martin is the author of the new book Razor.

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