CRIMINALLY GOOD: interview with author Mike Knowles

1) So, who are you and what have you written?

My name is Mike Knowles and I’m a crime fiction writer. I have had six books published so far. The books are all about a career criminal named Wilson. Each novel follows Wilson as he plans and commits a heist. Every job has its complications and things often end bloody. My sixth book, Rocks Beat Paper, is out TODAY!

In the book, Wilson flies to New York to rob a jewellery store of millions in uncut diamonds. Wilson puts together a way to get inside and things are all going according to plan until the inside man dies and everyone walks away — everyone but Wilson. He stops looking for a way inside and instead works out a plan to get the diamonds to come to him. He recruits his own crew and sets a con in motion that will walk the diamonds right out of the store.

The plan should work out; at least, it would if there weren’t other people after the same diamonds — people who are willing to go to any length to get their hands on the stones! Wilson finds out that stealing the diamonds is nothing compared to what it will take to keep them.

2) Why do you write crime fiction?

I think what interests me about crime fiction is the challenge. I like working out how to pull off a crime. The logistics and methods take a lot of time to devise and I enjoy all the work that goes into a coming up with a good getaway.

3) What informs your crime writing?

The broader ideas for my books often come from things that I read about in the newspaper. Once I have an idea, I start writing and let the story develop on its own. Once I get a rough draft completed, I read the book over, noting any areas that I am unsure about. At this point, I start pulling articles from the internet and ordering books on the subjects in question. There are plenty of times when I have had to change what I have written because I have learned that things don’t work the way I initially thought they did.

My writing has also benefitted from the ever-growing presence of the internet. As technology permeates more and more of people’s lives, a lot of what they experience ends up online. I have definitely profited from the network of shared personal experiences found on the internet. If you have never ridden on a train in New York, Google it and you can experience whatever line you want to ride from the perspective of someone’s cell phone. If you want to step out of the train car, there is an urban explorer out there who has filmed themselves doing just that. The internet has given me greater insight about many of the places I write about.

4) What’s your usual writing routine?

When I get to work, I take a few minutes before the day starts to jot down whatever ideas have come up that morning. The notes are usually plot points or small bits of dialogue. On my lunch break, I write. I don’t eat, I don’t socialise, I try to get as much done as I can. I get another round of writing in around ten o’clock that night. I usually work until I start to fall asleep at my desk. The next day, I do it again.

5) Which crime book do you wish YOU’D written, and why?

I thought about this question for a while. The idea of a book that I wish I’d written is something I never considered. Books are a snapshot in time of a specific writer’s experiences and creativity — they have a sort of fingerprint.  When I thought about the books I love, really love, what makes me love many of them is their distance from me. I love books that involve a world that is nothing like my own. Books that were generated from a series of experiences that I have never encountered.

The Dawn Patrol by Don Winslow is not a book that I wish I had written — it is a book that made me wish I had experienced some of the things that made such a book possible. The book should be checked for a pulse. There is life in the pages. Every time I read it, I feel like there is a place somewhere in San Diego where I will find everything, and everyone, that was on those pages. The book is something I could never have written, but it always leaves me feeling as though it is something I could experience. I think that is why I love it so much.

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