The aftershocks of an affair reverberate out to those in the lives of the lovers, who will NOT take it lying down.
Jack Connor's idyllic life in the Portsmouth countryside with his billionaire heiress wife, Caitlin McAllen, is shattered when alluring Michelle, with whom he was having an affair, is found dead and Jack is arrested for the murder. Jeremy Stone brings a top London attorney to handle his best friend’s defence.
Interview with Jac Wright
What made you decide to write The Reckless Engineer?
I had been writing poetry and short stories for some time and I knew I wanted to write a full-length fiction series. One of the short stories, The Closet, has a plot about a protagonist who is blinded by romantic love and gets himself into serious trouble from this. In The Closet I am right inside my protagonist’s head using a very close third person POV and telling the reader about his angst, pain, moments of joy, and ups and downs–telling the reader how it feels for him. I had wanted to do its dual or complementary plot where I hardly give my protagonist, Jack Connor (who gets himself into trouble because he is weak in love) a voice at all, but look at its impact from the viewpoints of those around him. That is how the plot of The Reckless Engineer came about.
I also knew I wanted it to be a series featuring and electrical engineer like me, or more like someone I should like to be. That is how Jeremy Stone came about. He lives the life I want and I live it through him.
I also knew that I wanted set the first book in Portsmouth because the beautiful seaside town is the birthplace of Charles Dickens. My mother loves Charles Dickens’ work and some of the earliest memories I have are of her reading Oliver Twist and David Copperfield to me. I also read a lot of Dickens myself as soon as I could read.
How much research went into your book?
Being an electronic engineer I knew what I was writing about the field. I also have two best friends, one of whom is an electrical engineer and the other is a barrister. I followed my friend who is a barrister on his cases from initial arrest to appeals and took a lot of advice from him to get the legal aspects right.
I am also qualified in Computer Science and had done a research contract in bio-informatics. Hence, it was not hard for me to find out about the chemical processes involved in the composition of the poison.
Once I knew I wanted to set the story in Portsmouth, I moved there, mainly to write the story. Even after moving out of Portsmouth I took time off and checked myself into a seaside hotel there to help me write some of the scenes. I had also done work contracts in Scotland.
I had lived and worked in London for many years and so the scenes in London came naturally. I even volunteered to help a friend with the back stage production of a play in the London West End to write the scene set at the Gielgud Theatre.
Do you have a favourite out of writing poetry, writing novels, and being an engineer?
I like writing fiction, both long and short fiction, best. Having said that, I would feel as if I were missing something if I were not doing my engineering work also. Getting the seed idea for a poem is hard; it is much harder than writing fiction.
Do you find it hard to balance all your hobbies/interests (mostly engineering & writing)?
I have left full-time engineering work for the time being in favour of more flexible engineering contracts so that I don’t have to go to work 9 to 5. This now enables me to dedicate more time to writing and the publicity work I find myself being called upon to do.
What is your favourite genre to read, and what is your favourite genre to write (or are they the same)?
My favourite genre to read and write is Suspense and Mystery. I particularly like the kind of psychological thrillers written by authors like Patricia Highsmith, Daphne du Maurier, and Gillian Flynn. I also love suspense fiction in the short form such as Tales of the Unexpected by Roald Dahl. I write mainly in this genre space also.
What three authors (alive or deceased) would you invite to a dinner party and why?
The reasons are as explained above. I hero-worship Patricia Highsmith. She is one writer who does amazingly well with all four aspects of suspense writing that I value – characters, plot, literary prose, and the setting or world building – with primacy given to characters. Her POV is perfect. Her books are a master class in compelling character creation. She is firmly based in Virginia Woolf’s Bloomsbury school of writing and does almost a close psychoanalysis of her main characters.
I also like Roald Dahl for his suspense fiction. He is the master of the unexpected psychological twist in his writing in the short form.
My mother loves Dickens and his stories were the earliest ones read to me and some of best I have loved as a child.
If you let me set one more place at the table I would invite Ian Rankin or Benjamin Black, although noir is not really my style.
What stands out is that all these writers write highly literary fiction even in their suspense books.
If you had the chance to do it again, is there anything you'd change about your book?
I would change the last name of my series lead from “Stone” to something cooler, but for the life of me I could not find any other name that fits him. So he is stuck with it.
What do you have planned for the future?
I have two stories half written – “The Bank Job” (Summerset Tales #2) and Buy, Sell, Murder (The Reckless Engineer #2). Buy, Sell, Murder is set in the London branches of an American investment bank. I hope to finish both in 2014.
I have started the fifth, In Plain Sight, with just the plot and the main characters designed and only the first chapter written. I have a hunch that In Plain Sight is going to be my favourite.
Being firm disciple of Virginia Woolf’s Bloomsbury school of writing I have a story planned that is a little similar to Leonard Woolf’s Village in the Jungle that I have not started on yet. This is going to be a work of purely literary fiction without the suspense element.
Thank you Jac! It was wonderful reading your answers and I had great fun!