Today we travel to Koh Samui, in southern Thailand, to chat with Will Patching about how being a workaholic, playing the guitar, a tropical island, sewage treatment filter beds, a Hawk training jet, a sunken charter yacht, corporate life, sunsets, photography, and audio books come together as part of Will’s current and past life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Although I’m a Brit, originally from ‘sarf Lunnon’ (south London!), my current location is on the tropical island I now consider home. Koh Samui, in southern Thailand, is a dream destination for many holidaymakers, and I am blessed to be able to spend most of time here.
Having semi-retired some years ago after baling out of my former workaholic corporate life, I decided to live somewhere most people only visit for a couple of weeks a year for some well-deserved downtime.
Writing from a tropical island sounds wonderful!
Having said that, compared to a ‘proper job’, writing thrillers anywhere is pure joy. I know this is true because I’ve had many roles in my time—from working as a teenage ‘gardener’ weeding sewage treatment filter beds (where I learned to hold my breath for minutes at a time), through flying a Hawk training jet very fast, very low and very dangerously before the RAF realised and booted me out, followed by years of hauling my reluctant body up the greasy management pole, eventually blagging my way onto a Harvard course for CEOs, largely thanks to the Peter Principle of promotion, to more recently building my dream, a charter yacht that sank in SE Asian waters.
These varied life experiences help me write my twisted tales.
In which genre do you write?
I love reading thrillers so that’s what I write. More specifically: crime thrillers, conspiracy thrillers, serial killer thrillers, and police procedurals.
My novels reflect my keen interest in psychopathic behaviour and how such antisocial personality traits affect individuals and society as a whole.
Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?
The warped plots and complex characters in each story are the result of a whole host of ideas coming together, so I cannot point to a single idea for any of them. However, I always have an overarching concept and a theme for each tale as these help me maintain the direction of the novel and they create boundaries that keep my characters from wandering too far off the reservation.
For ‘The Widow’, my latest crime thriller, the overarching concept is:
Traumatic events come back to haunt us all.
The theme was originally just:
Although the Deadly Sin of ‘Greed’ gets a look in too!
Lots of research goes on in the background and, to build a believable narrative, I always incorporate some aspects of real-life criminal misdeeds. ‘The Widow’ is no exception to that rule.
Can you play a musical instrument?
I play guitar, badly. I’d like to play much better than I do but a trapped nerve in my shoulder restricts the time I can spend practising so I will never be the aging rock god of my imagination!
What is your favorite time of day and why?
I love how the light changes and, especially here in the tropics. With such vivid colours painted on the horizon, offering a visual feast on so many days a year, I’ve amassed numerous photographs featuring sunsets. So many that I think I’m obsessed!
Is photography a hobby of yours?
I can’t claim to be a photographer, but living where I do offers incredible opportunities to create stunning images – even using a basic smartphone rather than a camera, as I do.
Being an ancient fellow, I remember the days when expensive rolls of film had to be sent away to be developed. Processing took weeks and was expensive, and my excited anticipation was usually followed by deflated disappointment. The prints often turned out to be a waste of money and, frankly, photography was a hobby I could not afford.
Back then, you could not see what you’d photographed until you received the prints from Kodak or similar outfit. Now, you can instantly view the result, framing shots perfectly before tweaking them yourself using sophisticated software. And so, I can’t help taking thousands of ‘snaps’ a year, mostly of the beautiful views in my locale, photographed at my favourite time of day.
There are more images in the Gallery on my website but you might like the one I took in early February as it gives an idea of what I mean.
What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?
Being ‘god-like’ in the pages of my own novels.
The characters generally come to me out of thin air, fully formed, but develop a life of their own as I write, often refusing to do as their creator demands! I’ve had many plot ideas tossed out by such obstinate characters, determined to go off in their own direction, reluctant to be involved in my crazy plans for them. Off they trot, taking me with them – and that’s truly exciting for me as I never really know how things will turn out. I can always kill them if they get out of hand though…
Are you a ‘plotter’ or do you start writing without much prior preparation?
I’m not a detailed plotter, generally only having a vague outline when I first start typing the manuscript, and this ‘unknown’ aspect means I’m regularly surprised by the twists and turns that I hope will entertain my readers.
The only time I spent months preparing a detailed synopsis was for my first attempt at writing a novel. I created a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline, lengthy character bios, and reams of scribbled notes on plot points etc, with the whole story planned out to the ‘nth’ degree.
It never saw the light of day. I soon became bored with writing the story, decided readers would feel the same, and abandoned the project. Live and learn, as they say. Spontaneity and that god’s eye view are the elements of writing that I need as much as enjoy.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?
Thanks to my short-lived career in the RAF, I had quite a lot of experience flying in helicopters. I have used that knowledge in a few of my novels and received a wonderful response from a reader to a scene featuring a flight over London. Private pilot, Tony Jason, wrote to me, explained that he had access to a helicopter, and offered to take me on a trip following the route I had created in the novel.
Of course, I was delighted and we flew together the next time I was back in the UK. What a fantastic experience that was. Tony’s reward? A character named after him in my international thriller, ‘The Hunter’.
Many readers have contacted me over the years to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed my stories and I’ve met some keen fans on occasions too, but this is the only time I’ve been invited to ‘relive’ a fictional scene. Mind you, most of my writing is so dark and deadly, I really wouldn’t want to!
What are you currently working on?
Too many things…
In addition to a few new writing projects at various stages of development, I’m working with a top-notch, award-winning narrator to convert my novels and short stories into audiobook format. In October last year, I published the audiobook editions of ‘The Hack Trilogy’, individually and as a compilation, and these are available from most online audiobook retailers. They can also be ordered from libraries too, so for anyone who can’t afford to buy, that is often a viable option.
Do you prefer to read or listen to novels?
I thoroughly enjoy audiobooks as well as reading in the traditional sense, so I have no preference. I believe more and more people are beginning to appreciate the flexibility the audio format delivers.
Unlike reading a book or ebook, an audio edition allows the listener to do other things simultaneously. Driving long distances is the most obvious one, but there are many people who enjoy pottering in the garden, for instance, while listening to gruesome murders and silently rooting for the fictional detectives or other protagonists.
I think this is an exciting time for authors, especially independents like myself, as a whole new world of opportunity is just opening up. Audiobooks represent a hefty investment but one for the long term and I believe it will prove well worthwhile. Hence, I’m aiming to publish my remaining four novels and three short stories in audio editions before May this year.
Tell us about your most recent book.
‘The Widow’ is a British police procedural with three strong female characters at its heart. There’s no romance in this one(!) but plenty of thrills, and many readers have described it as my ‘best yet’ and a proper ‘page-turner’.
The lead character, a female detective, played a relatively minor role in ‘Mutilated’, the second novel in ‘The Remorseless Trilogy’, but I felt she had unfinished business in that story, so this novel was born.
I mentioned above the concept and theme of this thriller, but for the opening, I had a simple idea, one that underpins the plot. The very first line of the novel is the dialogue from a phone call, spoken by a psychopath, informing the newly widowed character of the book’s title:
‘Your husband is dead.’
To make the plot more intriguing, I asked myself:
What if the newly widowed listener wanted her husband dead?
How would the police react if they discovered that simple fact?
And what if the widow was not as innocent as she might first appear?’
From that starting point—via some 90,000 twisted words in between—our feisty female police detective eventually reaches a conclusion…
I can say no more without spoilers. Sorry! The opening pages can be read online as ‘The Widow’ is available from all the major retailers. The audiobook will be published in May.
What other publications do you have?
‘The Hack Trilogy’—three international crime thrillers. The first novel, ‘The Hack’, is free with most online retailers and has around over 500 reviews with Amazon for a rating of c4.4 stars. These dark conspiracy thrillers have plenty of action and—I am told—believable characters, with a gentle ongoing romance threaded through the three stories. Like all of my writing: ‘Not for the fainthearted!’
‘The Remorseless Trilogy’—three gritty British crime thrillers that take the reader deep into the disturbing minds of some vicious psychopaths. The characters are different in this miniseries, offering plenty of excitement and twists, but once again, there’s a touch of romance along the way.
All of these thriller novels can be read as standalones, including ‘The Widow’, but frankly, most readers will enjoy them more if they are read in order.
My two other publications are quirkier as both include some insights into the workings of my own demented brain:
‘Short Shots—Blood on their Hands’ consists of three short-form thrillers that relate to ‘The Remorseless Trilogy’ in some way. I’ve added author’s notes to explain how they fit together, and I encourage new readers who are unsure about my dark tales to read this publication to sample my writing before buying the full-length novels. A free copy can be downloaded at my author website.
‘Killer Inspiration’ is another alternative publication. Many people ask me where I get my ideas and what has inspired me to write the stories I have. This compendium offers some answers to those questions while exploring the misdeeds of real-life psychopaths, and puts into context how those individuals relate to my characters and plots.
Both publications include a little biographical information about yours truly too, once again offering additional context to my writing.
It was great fun learning more about you Will. Sounds like you’ve had some pretty wild adventures! Wishing you all the best! – Camilla
The Widow blurb:
A brutally murdered husband. An abused wife who wanted him gone for good… Did the wealthy widow arrange his death—and can a disgraced detective discover the truth?
‘Your husband is dead.’
Lorraine Rowe receives the news from an anonymous killer threatening her too—unless she pays an inflated fee for her estranged partner’s murder. Overwhelmed by fear and indecision, Lorraine struggles to survive as her carefully constructed life of lies begins to unravel.
Detective Sergeant Fiona ‘Fifi’ Fielding is fighting for her future after allowing her violent temper to jeopardise her career. Is it karma that dumps a man’s badly tortured corpse on her doorstep—or something more sinister? And will the ensuing investigation enable Fiona to redeem herself?
Both women have lived through traumatic events and have much in common, but when the truth-seeker meets the accomplished dissembler, events spiral inexorably towards a deadly climax.
This hard-hitting, twisted thriller weaves deception, misdirection and psychological torment into a page-turning tale of murder and mayhem that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Not for the faint of heart…
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