Love me, love my character – Keith Dixon, crime writer

Delighted to welcome my fellow Poitevin Keith Dixon to my blog today.  Keith, born in Yorkshire and raised in the Midlands, has been writing since he was thirteen years old in a number of different genres: thriller, espionage, science fiction, literary. He’s the author of seven novels in the Sam Dyke Investigations series and two other non-crime works, as well as two collections of blog posts on the craft of writing. When he’s not writing he enjoys reading, learning the guitar, watching movies and binge-inhaling great TV series. He’s currently spending more time in France than is probably good for him.

Bienvenue, Keith!

Tell us why you wrote your latest book
My most recent book is called Storey, and is a crime thriller set in Coventry. It’s the first in a new series featuring an ex-policeman and firearms expert called Paul Storey.

My main reasons for writing it are two-fold. First, I already had a series featuring a British private eye, Sam Dyke, and I wanted to change gears and perspective—the books were told in the first person, in classic PI fashion, and were set in the North West of England (mostly). Coventry was the city I was brought up in so I thought it would be interesting to revisit the place—if only fictionally—and to set a new series there and thereabouts, with a new character and told from a different perspective.

Which leads to the second reason for writing it—a change of style. I’ve long been a fan of the American writer Elmore Leonard, and in particular the way he gets into the heads of both his good and his bad guys. His style is incredibly involving, taking you into the thoughts of his characters so that you’re with them all the way, without any ‘editorialising’ on behalf of the writer. I wanted to try out this style, partly as an experiment and partly as a way of extending my own skill-set, such as it is.

Why do you think your main character is like he is?
Like many heroes in crime fiction, Storey is a damaged character. Not through drink or failed relationships, but because he made a wrong decision in his professional life that he couldn’t forget. So he leaves that profession, comes back to Coventry to bury his father, and almost casually finds himself involved with a group of criminals who don’t know who he is.

Storey’s personality has been moulded by his eighteen years or so as a police officer in London, making him mentally tough, a little (but not too much) cynical, and very pragmatic when dealing with criminals. He’s intelligent (he reads) but not necessarily over-reflective. His openness to experience means that he will constantly become involved with people he shouldn’t bother with, and go into situations he should steer clear of!

What does he think he’s like? And why?
As another character tells him early on, he doesn’t really have any idea who he is. He’s never had a long-term relationship but hasn’t analysed why. He doesn’t own a property (though he’s inherited his father’s house) and he has no notion of what career he wants to pursue now he’s left the police force.

What he does have is a low tolerance for criminals who think they’re smart, a perspective that enables him to take most things with a humorous grain of salt, and a commitment to putting things right where he sees they’re wrong—either within the Law or, if necessary, outside it. Being a police officer for eighteen years has made him, if anything, suspicious of the Law’s limitations while being aware of what they are. Perhaps foolishly, he sees himself being able to pick and choose which aspects of legal procedure he’s willing to abide by—a belief which leads to more trouble in the second book in the series, One Punch, which is nearing completion.

And wider… 
Storey is the first in a new series, and I hope to have two more in the series completed before the end of the year. The previous series, Sam Dyke Investigations, comprises seven novels currently, with more to come. The fourth in the series, The Bleak, won in the Private Eye/Noir category in Chanticleer Reviews’ CLUE contest in 2014. The latest, The Innocent Dead, is currently on the shortlist for the same contest, with the winner to be announced in April. (Exciting!Altered Life is currently a free download everywhere, and if you sign up to my newsletter (see the website link) you can also get the second book in the series free as well.

And your other work? 
I’ve also written a novel best placed in the category of ‘Contemporary Women’ and called Actress, which describes how a young actress, famous on a TV soap, decides to leave that world and move into serious stage drama … and then finds herself involved in a competition to win the lead role in a major new film. Does she want the role? Can she afford not to have it? The novel won an Awesome Indie Award and is a B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree.

Is your work available in other formats such as audio or translation?
The first four books in the Sam Dyke Investigations series are available as audiobooks and the series is slowly being translated into a number of languages, primarily Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. Storey is being translated into French, Italian, Portuguese and Chinese, and Actress is available as an audiobook and in Chinese, with French and German translations in the works. (Wow!)

Thank you, Keith for being my blog guest today.

You can connect with Keith:

Twitter:   @keithyd6

Read about Keith’s latest book…
When Paul Storey comes home from London he’s escaping an event that ruined his professional life. Now he’s slowly making contact with people again … but the people he winds up meeting are lowlifes, thieves and conmen.

Exactly the kind of people he was trying to escape. Worse, one of them is a con-woman who, for some reason, he can’t get out of his mind and who has a habit of manipulating men …

When he gets involved in a scam to sell smuggled antiquities from Syria he realises he can’t escape being a professional either—and one with a specialised skill that makes him even more desirable to his new colleagues.

Finding a purpose in life while keeping his head connected to his shoulders keeps him busy, until a Syrian who wants the return of one of the stolen antiquities shows up … and he’s not inclined to take prisoners.

Highly intelligent, witty and well-plotted thriller” – Colin Garrow.


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, will be published in Spring 2017. Audiobooks now available for the first four of the series

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Get INCEPTIO, the series starter, for FREE when you sign up to Alison’s free monthly email newsletter

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