On Saturday 25th June 2011, Simon appeared on the Bob Walmsley show on BBC Radio Leeds. It was a great opportunity to talk about Black Shadows and the journey to publication.
Listen on BBC iplayer here...
Had a great day, drinking coffee out my Black Shadows mug, chatting to strangers interested in MY book (!!!) and signing a good few copies. As I leave, the manager tells me with a big grin that Black Shadows is the bestselling title of the day! Wahoo. Here's the obligatory pic...
Hardboiled legend and bestselling author, Debbi Mack has recently posted this amazing review of Black Shadows on her blog, The Book Grrl!
The Hardboiled Detective is on the Case in 'Black Shadows' Review: BLACK SHADOWS (Wild Wolf Publishing 2011)
Author: Simon Swift
BLACK SHADOWS takes place back in a time when dames was dames and men wore fedoras. Detectives talked tough, threw punches and pounded the pavement looking for clues, solving crimes because when a detective gets killed it's bad for business and bad for detectives everywhere.
So, it takes place in New York City, circa 1940.
Private dick (aka, detective) Errol Black, aka, Eezy, is sitting in his office when the lovely Claudia comes in and hires him to follow her no-good fiance, George Ferriby, who she thinks is stepping out on her. Why, that awful man! But wait! Then, there's a redhead, and her name is Marlow. Hmm ... sound familiar? Anyhow, Marlow says she's Claudia's sister -- well, not really her blood sister, but her best friend in the whole world.
So ... whilst this is going on there are these other guys doing stuff. (BTW, do you like that word? Whilst? Because you're going to see it a lot. :)) In fact, there's a fat man known as the Coward. Or the Portly Gangster. Maybe. He has a kid with a gun working for him. And it seems a dame is associated with them. I won't say who. Does this sound at all familiar? They want to meet Black up in Woodstock. And hold a rock concert? Of course not. They want to find something. And it's not the Maltese Falcon, believe it or not.
And somehow this all relates to the murder of Dyke Spanner, Black's former partner at The Shadow Man Detective Agency which died with Terry Shadow (accidentally) in a Mob hit on Arthur Flegenheimer five years before.
Plus the Tong, aka, the Chinese mafia, are all mixed up in this, too.
Oh, did I mention the plot is a bit complex? Maybe you've already sussed that out.
Suffice it to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Simon Swift is a clever wordsmith. Thus, some of the book's familiar criminal scenarios read far better than they might in less capable hands. And the plot was a most meandering tangle of threads ... but it all works out somehow, right? :)
And, I might add that Swift can be awfully funny, too. However, even though you might get the idea that Black is like any old hardboiled PI, he isn't just Sam Spade, okay? He actually seems to have a heart, which makes him different and interesting. But he ain't mushy, either. You got that?
So, if you enjoy the old hardboiled detective novels, you're in for a real treat. Because this is a book that truly harkens back to a time when dames was dames and men wore fedoras and detectives were tough talkers. There's just one thing. There was no rock and roll in the 1940s. Oh, no! :-0
Well. We did it!
The day was a resounding success! I have to say, the team in store were brilliant and could not have looked after me better! And to all the customers, many of whom snapped up a signed copy, some of which simply stopped by for a chat, but all which put a great big smile on my face - THANK YOU!
I look forward to doing it all again soon!
That's right! Simon will be signing copies of Black Shadows in high street bookseller, Waterstones on 21st May 2011. Catch him in the Kingsgate store in Huddersfield between 12-2pm. He would love to see you there!
Black Shadows now has an incredible 6 5star reviews on amazon. Here is the latest from Book Blogger, 2 read or not 2 read...
Black Shadows by Simon Swift
Summary: When rookie private detective, Errol Black, gets mixed up in the killing of gangster Dutch Schultz, he vows to clean up his act. But when former partner Dyke Spanner is shot to death, Black is drawn into a violent and bloody quest for a mythical, priceless diamond. Black Shadows by Simon Swift is a very enjoyable noir. Swift seems to have captured all the elements that make up the classic detective noirs. From the first page I was drawn into the mystery and intrigue that Black Shadows offered. This story is told from the perspective of Errol Black. Errol is a private eye, a detective with a not so clean background. Errol takes on the case of the beautiful and alluring damsel in distress, Claudia. He gets more than he bargains for when he investigates her fiancée. Errol gets mixed up in a world-wind of problems including getting involved with well known gangsters and being suspected of murdering his former partner, Dyke Spanner. Errol is a flawed, tough, cynical type of guy. He has a soft spot for the sweet and innocent and a weakness for the femme fatals. Errol doesn't know who to trust. Practically everyone he knows has some sort of motive why they wanted Spanner dead and why they want the priceless blue Tavernier Diamond. The closer Errol gets to finding the killer the more dead bodies start to pile up. This story is full of red herrings that keep you captivated. With so many motives and opportunities for murder it was hard to eliminate any of the suspects. The characters are shady with motivations of greed and lust. I found it interesting that one of the characters is based on the real life gangster, Dutch Schultz This book had such a vintage feel to it. Simon Swift did a great job sorting out the details of this time period to make it as authentic as possible. I absolutely loved the 1940's New York setting. This book had everything I had expected to find in a noir and more. The story is very entertaining and definitely worth reading. Black Shadows is the first book in the Errol Black trilogy.
A TEACHER has embarked on a new chapter in his life – as a crime fiction writer.
But despite landing a coveted book deal, Simon Swift, assistant headteacher at Birkby Junior School, is not giving up his vocation to teach.
The father-of-two from Highburton said: “At this moment in time I view myself as a teacher who writes because I really love teaching.
“Teaching is a great job and I feel like I can use my writing skills to help the children a lot with literacy and inspire them and push them much further.”
nternational publisher HarperCollins has described Simon’s novel Black Shadows as “a tightly written piece of noir fiction” which is “pitch perfect” and “a compelling read”. The crime novel blends fact and fiction with gangsters, beautiful dames, colourful villains and red herrings.
When rookie private detective Errol Black gets mixed up in the killing of gangster Dutch Schultz he vows to clean up his act.
But when former partner Dyke Spanner is shot to death, Black is drawn into a violent and bloody quest for a mythical, priceless diamond.
The novel has been published by Wild Wolf Publishing which specialises in and celebrates the dark side of fiction.
Simon, 35, who grew up in Newsome, said: “It was amazing after all those years of hard work – it was a dream come true.
“It was always and a dream of mine to write a book and make it big.
“I began to write the novel many years ago when I went travelling with my wife Sarah.
“I spent a lot of time on it when I was travelling but then life took over and I got married and had children.
“There was never enough time to devote fully on my writing.
“But it was still there and one day I thought I’d go back to it when I had more time. I’m so glad I did now.”
Simon’s book is available on May 1 and can be pre-ordered now from Amazon or downloaded as an ebook.
Read More http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/local-west-yorkshire-news/2011/04/23/birkby-junior-school-teacher-on-swift-has-crime-novel-published-86081-28569722/#ixzz1MpmGaAgw
Here's the interview in full...
How Long is a Piece of Rope: Simon Swift
70p from Amazon UK
99 cents from amazon.com
It’s a genuine honour to feature Simon Swift, an author I’ve admired for years, whose Black Shadows has just been launched for Kindle.
A bit about Simon
Simon Swift has been writing for as long as he can remember…
A voracious reader from an early age, he fell in love with the adventures of hardboiled detectives Sam Spade and Mike Hammer. A Humphrey Bogart season of black and white movies introduced him to film noir.
After reading Politics and Philosophy at The University of York, he embarked on a 12 month odyssey of adventure, traveling the world. Alongside his odd pair of clean clothes and his stack of paperbacks, his most treasured possession was the notebook, which contained the chrysalis of his own hardboiled novel.
Many years later, the result was Black Shadows, a crime novel which blends fact and fiction. It attained a gold star on Harper Collins’ Authonomy in January 2010, on the way to becoming the all time top ranked crime novel and generating a record 1000+ reviews.
He is currently putting the finishing touches to the sequel, The Casablanca Case. In the meantime, Simon Swift passes the time trying to improve the lives of young children as an Assistant Headteacher at a primary school, playing football with his two young children and being a dedicated husband to his lovely wife.
As well as his family, his amazing job and writing, Simon loves most sport and giraffes.
New Jersey1935: When private detective, Errol Black and his fellow agents, are protecting an Irish mobster they get mixed up in the killing of Dutch Schultz. A gunfight leaves bloody chaos.
Ten years later, Black’s past is about to catch up with him. A young lady hires Black for a seemingly routine surveillance job, former partner Dyke Spanner is shot to death and Black is drawn deeper into a violent and bloody quest.
The search for the priceless Blue Tavernier Diamond throws Black into the line of fire ofNew York’s ruthless Tongs. To even hope to solve the mystery, Black must journey into his past where both the secret to Dyke’s killer and the clues to the hidden diamond lay.
Black Shadows is a crime novel blending fact and fiction. In the finest hardboiled tradition, it is filled by gangsters, beautiful dames, colourful villains and red herrings galore – this is the world of private eye Errol Black.
BLACK SHADOWS is a tightly written piece of noir fiction, inviting obvious comparisons to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. – Harpercollins
Black Shadows is Raymond Chandler or James Ellroy reinvented for the 21st century. There’s a real authenticity about the period; the setting – New Yorkin the 1940s – the characters – all coming together in a detective story that really hits the heights.
From the dramatic opening onwards, the reader is hooked. It’s a proven formula: a wisecracking detective, exotic female characters and shady gangsters, but here everything works so well. The sense of pace is perfectly judged, the short, snappy sentences adding to the excitement. Simon Swift is a clever, inventive writer with the ability to take the detective story to new heights.
I’ve read all the ‘greats’ in this genre over the years. There’s a spareness, a facility with dialogue, a method of developing a plot that makes them timeless. This book takes these elements into the modern age. Very impressive writing.
The acknowledged masters of the genre:Chandler, Hammett and their ilk are long gone. Make way for a new star in their firmament, Simon Swift, and his exceptional novel, Black Shadows.
Jake Barton, author of bestselling Burn Baby Burn
AND THOSE QUESTIONS…
1. Black Shadows is far better than anythingChandler, Hammett or Spillane wrote. Shit, I needed to add …in the bath to the end of that sentence. However I heard that Ellroy wrote most of his best shitkicking noir, with a rubber duck floating round his gonads and a radiant radox aroma, so I gotta leave him off the list!
2. You will just love my book if you like Max Allan Collins’ Nate Heller historical mystery series. At least I hope you will, that is where I aspire to be! You won’t like it if you read Katie Price biographies, although she would be a great character in it!
3. A barnstorming prologue comes from the barrel of a gun…
The shooting started as I was tucking into a nice, bloody porterhouse steak…
4. How do you see the role of food in the contemporary thriller and where does Black Shadows fit into the spectrum?
Food should always play a huge role in any novel. Errol Black spends most of his time in and around eateries. In fact scrap that, food plays a huge part in life, right? Without food we die, without strawberries we have a less exciting love scene, without porterhouse steak we have a less gritty hero!
5. How would it affect the direction Black Shadows takes if the action were moved wholesale to the set of Glee in chapter 7?
It would be great! I would love to write about a massacre in the set of Glee! Big Dan Washington would have a field day, with his two pearl encrusted pistols, firing away, whilst Errol seduces the leading lady!
6. When you’re writing, would you rather look out at the sea, or in at your thoughts?
Gotta be the sea every time. If the two can merge a little that would be just swell, but the sea is a powerful tool, just like the rolling hills and beautiful countryside I do look at!
7. When writing, do you start at the beginning and keep going, or start at the end and work back?
Neither! I have the germ of an idea and I just write. Quite often I have a whole stack of ideas that just need to be written in the order that they do. The editing and pulling together stage is a hell of a lot harder this way, but the whole thing is more fun! I love writing a mystery and not really knowing where the hell it is going myself until the end!
8. A great villain or a great hero?
Gotta be villain. Think Dudley Smith in James Ellroy’s LA Noir Quartet. There never was a finer anti-hero in the history of mystery / crime fiction!
9. Black Shadows will change the way a reader looks at…
Golf balls and nipples, female nipples that is! And hopefully traditional, clichéd private dicks. Errol Black is a new breed, without losing any of the old magic and appeal!
10.How long is a piece of rope?
Depends who’s throwing it!
Crime king and noir legend, Alan Guthrie (Edgar nominee and author of Kindle bestseller Bye Bye Baby) has an interview with Black Shadows author, Simon Swift on his new Crime blog, Criminal-E. Check it out here: