Interview with Will Patching, author of The Hangman

09 May 2018

What can you tell us about your new release, The Hangman?

The Hangman is the final explosive ‘standalone’ thriller in The Hack Trilogy, continuing the overarching concept that runs through each of these three tales:

The abuse of power and privilege by our pampered elites and the impact their evil misdeeds have on others less fortunate.

Throughout this mini-series we follow the adventures of ex-CIA assassin, Doug Hunter, a man with particular skills. This time he’s up against unelected officials on both sides of the Atlantic who are determined to provoke an illegal war with Iran. While Doug is attempting to defy death and prevent slaughter in the Middle East, the other hero of the trilogy, his pregnant lover, journalist Kate O’Sullivan, gets caught up in the worst terror attack ever carried out on British soil – a gruesome chemical weapon that kills hundreds of innocents.

Although the manuscript was drafted long before the Skripal poisonings, when the word ‘Novichok’ entered the British lexicon, The Hangman reflects such current world events in a way that I hope will prompt the reader to question the official narratives our leaders and media promote. Featuring conniving politicians, devious spooks, fanatical jihadis, vicious mercenaries, corrupt officials and more, my aim was to create a gripping international crime thriller full of evil deeds and selfless heroism while giving the reader something to think about.

According to early feedback, it seems ‘The Hangman’ has hit the spot. I would never compare my writing to any other author but I will admit I was delighted when professional editor, James Jones of Proof-EDGB, said this about my latest thriller:

“Fantastic book… Now I will be going back to a Jack Reacher novel I’m reading. It has lost some of its appeal after reading The Hangman.”

I’m really looking forward to hearing what other readers think – I welcome feedback, and try to reply to everyone who contacts me with comments.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

At the age of fourteen or fifteen I won first prize in a tri-county writing competition. It was just some boring stuff about banking, but as a teenager you think you can do anything and after winning that contest I arrogantly believed I could write a thriller as good as any I’d read.

Mmm.

My precocious but pathetic first attempt died a death at several thousand words, and I’m pretty sure they’re still buried in an attic somewhere in the UK. Best place for ’em, I reckon.

Soon after that failed attempt, girls, exams, university, family, and having to earn a living all got in the way of my criminal writing intent. Many years later, and after much wasted effort and numerous false starts, I discovered Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, a semi-biographical guide for writers. That fascinating and enlightening read was a major inspiration for me, and a book I would recommend to any aspiring author.

What fictional literary world would you most like to visit?

Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stephenson. ‘Visit’ being the operative word, though…

Living in a time of blood-thirsty empire and cut-throat pirates only appeals when you can click your fingers and escape back to a time and place where a tooth infection won’t kill you and there are laws that most people abide by. I am officially a wimp!

As an imaginative young kid, having read this and other similar adventure tales, I dreamed of living on a ‘paradise island’, and for most of the last seventeen years I’ve managed to do just that. Sadly, I’ve yet to find any treasure, buried or otherwise.

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

Thomas Harris as I loved the Hannibal Lecter series, including the film and TV adaptations. These are works of sheer genius.

Both The Hack Trilogy and my other mini-series, The Remorseless Trilogy, feature psychopaths, a class of criminals I’ve studied in depth as I find them fascinating. If I could quiz Harris on his brilliant creation, Hannibal the Cannibal, and discover what inspired him to write those four classic novels about a psychopath, and why it took him 25 years to do so, I’d be a very happy interviewer.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

That’s easy.

Although in a way, writing a novel is a little like being a god creating worlds and the characters who populate them, the most exciting thrill for me is when my ‘imaginary friends’ come to life.

Unlike some novelists, I don’t start off with a detailed synopsis, with each chapter outlined and character biographies written in advance. Instead I use King’s approach and set characters running while keeping several strands of plot in my mind.

At times, it’s almost as if I’m observing the characters and merely describing what they do rather than directing them, and when that happens, it’s incredibly satisfying. Sometimes they surprise me with what they do or say, and that too is a real thrill. It can cause problems though and may necessitate a re-write of earlier chapters or scenes, but I enjoy this style of writing and it works well for me.

BAM. You’re a superhero. What’s your superpower?

I’d have to be Doctor Cure-All, a physician who can eliminate diseases of any description. I’ve seen close relatives suffer from dreadful, debilitating, painful illnesses like terminal cancer, and a few decades ago lost a child to cerebral palsy after she struggled for life during her two short years on the planet. Many such illnesses are simply cruel and if I could eliminate them, I would.

What scene in The Hangman was your favorite to write?

That’s a very difficult question as I enjoyed writing them all.

If I have to pick one scene, I guess it would be the death of a jihadi who succumbs to the terrorists’ own bioweapon – a form of poetic justice, if somewhat gruesome in its delivery. Sometimes I write a scene that makes me shudder, and that one certainly set my spine tingling.

My style has been described as ‘pull no punches’ with occasional ‘brutal descriptive passages’, so doesn’t suit all readers. I sometimes kill off main characters too, simply because, in the real-world, that’s what happens. True-life heroes aren’t bulletproof and my novels reflect that reality. There’s a scene in The Hangman where a significant character dies – it’s not the scene I ‘enjoyed’ writing the most, but it certainly choked me up and had me shedding a tear or two for my ‘imaginary friend’. Sad, but true!

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

Yep.

Dare to be different.

Too many of us are chained to the treadmill that is modern life, with demanding careers and family expectations, hefty mortgages and student loans, and it’s all too easy to slip into a soul-destroying rut without realising – until it’s too late.

My view?

I won’t let the dreaded ‘what would such-and-such say?’ stop me from changing my life. Seems to me that we only live once, so we need to make the most of what little time we have on this beautiful planet without constantly fretting about what others think of us.

Does that sound odd, coming from  an author who relies on reviews from strangers to help spread the word?

Maybe, but when I write, I do so primarily for myself – always with the hope that others will enjoy reading the tales I create. As a result, I’m always amazed and gratified when I receive positive feedback and five-star reviews, and I really appreciate my readers’ support and faith in me. Long may that continue, and whether it does or not, I’ll keep on writing until I can no longer hold a pen!

Will Patching is the author of the new book The Hangman

Connect with Will:
Author Website
 Twitter

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