Interview With Author Phillip Jordan

Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

I’m Phillip Jordan. I’m a crime and thriller author from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

CODE of SILENCE is my first full-length novel and is due for release WINTER 2020. It is the first in what I term the Origins Series. It is a contemporary crime thriller following PSNI Detective Inspector Veronica Taylor as she picks up the pieces following the failed prosecution of her nemesis Gordon ‘Monster’ Beattie who although now free finds himself in a predicament of his own.

The murder of a ruthless criminal plunges the two opponents again into conflict. Taylor caught between her duty to intervene and her desire to let vengeance run its bloody course and Beattie forced to confront the lies that built his Empire.

CODE of SILENCE launches a narrative exploring the themes of redemption and retribution against a backdrop of political greed, corruption and exploitation and the meaning of justice in modern day Northern Ireland and the world at large.

What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

My works are completely fictional however growing up in the city that was once murder capital of the world, home to Europe’s most bombed hotel and scene of its largest ever bank robbery I’m likely spoilt for inspiration. Thankfully we have moved on from the dark day of the ‘Troubles’ but I am fascinated with the flawed but fabulous city of my birth. I read once that conflict is key to writing and there has been conflict in Belfast since it was dredged from the Lough. From rebellion planned three centuries ago in the tight knit entries and taverns, which remain and still cut through the cityscape to the countries partition, War, ‘The Troubles’ and the fragile peace that has followed. The old streets have seen the best and worst of us. Our history is, quite literally, painted on its walls.

It’s small and compact for a Capital so you don’t have far to go to reveal a location or a character or wonder what secrets might lurk and mysteries need solved down that lonely entry.

What inspires/inspired your creativity?

I have been a voracious reader all my life. I think when you have that passion for reading you often think, can I do this? Could I write? I always had that ambition. I’ve written for as long as I can remember but finally bit the bullet and took a more professional approach over the course of the last six months. I was inspired with the knowledge Lee Child and Ian Fleming were in their forties before unleashing Reacher and Bond on the world so I knew time hadn’t passed me yet.

I have a long background in the security industry and whilst my professional background was firmly rooted in the technical arena I was fortunate during my formative years to find myself in situations, locations and working with people whose insights, professionalism and generosity inspired me.

I often find looking at today’s headlines where inspiration is all around us, as a thriller writer it can’t help but ignite curiosity and a search for understanding from the micro level. World Politics, global pandemic and the rise of Mega Corporations, Big Brother, Big Data and a new cold war. As a backdrop to any story these give an air of urgency and authenticity and also helps me consider the wider implication and offers the opportunity to explore the reasons, fears and anxieties these circumstances create for the man in the street.

How do you deal with creative block?

I used to think this was a thing and now I realise it’s perhaps just nerves or confidence problems. Maybe even the sub-consciousness telling you you’re on the wrong path and need to back a few pages to find the way out of the maze. The best way it was explained for me to take action was when someone mentioned Philip Pullman’s description of ‘plumbers block’.

I’ve been fortunate to be employed my whole life and never once did I phone in with “Work Block”.

Sure, some days you don’t want to, some days are harder than others but you sit there and you write. Usually it’s rubbish but some of the scenes I’ve written like this, and then went back and cleaned up, are the best in the manuscript.

What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

This is my first so I can’t claim to be the expert. I will say over the years the tendency for me was to have inspiration strike and launch into narrative. There’s a saying here, ‘Hurry up and wait.’ Makes no sense, but now I will follow that advice and not rush blindly in. I’ll wait that spark out, nurture it for a while until it starts to burn and I have an idea of a beginning, middle and end. Only once I’ve an idea of theme and a template of the novels structure in place will I begin the writing. I learned a lot from Daniel P Calvisi’s Story Maps and other books on screenplay and on story structure.

This was an approach I stumbled upon and found suited me but when I enrolled in an excellent writing course given by best-selling author Suzy. K Quinn she echoed that approach, which not only gave me renewed direction but confidence that I was on the right track.

I firmly believe you should write the kind of book you would love to read. I see a lot now about writing to market, searching for a popular, profitable niche. It’s not something I could do. I think for me it would lack heart.

In summary, patience is key. Don’t spend a fortune on advertising and rushing to publish unless you’ve worked hard on the fundamentals and the fundamental in this case is a well written, coherent, story.

How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

CODE of SILENCE has yet to be released so no reviews yet but I’m pragmatic.

I’ve had plenty of experience and the opportunity to receive positive and negative criticism during the course of my career. Most justified but when it’s not I’m philosophical enough to realise it’s not me personally being raged at. The other guy is just probably having a bad day.

Any feedback is good feedback in my opinion.

Either it will build your confidence or in turn highlight what may be a potential issue from a perspective you would never have considered and offer the opportunity to amend in the future.

How has your creation process improved over time?

I eluded in another answer that I had the tendency to rush headlong in. Changing that approach has been the one thing I wish had understood earlier along with the productivity and consistency a plot template can bring to your work.

Pre-writing, I’ll now work out the basic beats of the novel, the set-up, the stakes, how we move to midpoint and then an idea of the resolution. From that I’ll break the beginning, middle and end into broad and then more specific story beats and eventually have a sheet of about sixty points taking me from page one to The End.

Will I rigorously adhere to this? No, a story will evolve and flow and sometimes a crafty character will refuse to be hemmed in by the outline.

I think these discoveries are what writing is all about, I have an idea where I’m going and whodunit but sometimes we are along for the journey just as much as the reader will be.

The one thing I’ll say about the template is that it allows you to focus and when you do get those days when it’s hard and you start to think you’re stuck you have other scenes you can write or consider new ways to get there.

What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

I’ve had a wholly rewarding experience in finally knuckling down and writing my first novel. Maybe it’s a combination of excitement and that sense of achievement but all in all it has been a positive experience and one that has made me realise I can string an exciting story together.

I suppose what I didn’t have an eye on as inspiration struck was the process that must take place in the background like the research regarding publishing and even the aspects of cover and web design and becoming involved in social media. These were all great to get involved with and certainly new skills have been gained. There are anxieties over marketing, sales and even media but those are all part and parcel and something I’ll get to grips with. I’m just grateful to have got to the position where I have those worries.

Do you have any creativity tricks?

I’m still learning but I like to think I have an ear for dialogue. Likely as a result of watching too many TV shows and movies but if I’m struggling with a scene I’ll usually just break it down as a screen play. Exposition out. Everything goes but the dialogue and few slugs of notes. I find then I quickly get back into the groove adding in the other sense and the layers to build a great scene.

The same can be said for days when you just aren’t feeling motivated or up against a wall. I find slogging through and then polishing up those car crash chunks have left me with some fantastic scenes.

What are your plans for future books?

The follow-ups to CODE of SILENCE planned for next year are THE CROSSED KEYS, which continues Taylor’s investigations into the criminal underworld while dealing with the fall out from the first novel and the next is NO GOING BACK.

It’s a high-octane international thriller following the exploits of CODE’s anti-hero who represents the darker side in all of us. If we, like him, were wronged in horrific fashion and had the skill-set to do it, would we wreak revenge on those responsible? It’s a story spanning the low dives and high-end prestige locations around Europe and the world where organised crime and corruption exerts influence for power and greed and introduces a character who means to redress the balance.

Between these novel I’ll launch several novella tie-ins following a mission or case-file for each protagonist.

I’m working on the first of those, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS as I finish CODE of SILENCE.

Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

I competed in triathlon to a fairly high level. From Olympic Distance up to Ironman events with a few top-ten finishes, an age-group championship and a World Police and Fire Games under my belt.

If there’s one thing Triathlon taught me it is the human capacity for suffering. To be at your lowest physically and mentally yet find from somewhere the reserves to battle on.

I can only imagine what it’s like to face Special Forces Selection or face the horror of an investigation into a brutal crime however I would like to think I can empathise with what it takes to keep going when the chips are down and the fight looks lost.

I think the dedication to train and compete has helped immensely in garnering the focus to write every day.

I still keep myself in shape but writing has most definitely replaced the hours of swimming, cycling and running.

Bio

Phillip Jordan was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and grew up in the city that holds the dubious double honour of being home to Europe’s Most Bombed Hotel and scene of its largest ever bank robbery.

He had a successful career in the Security Industry for twenty years before transitioning into the Telecommunications Sector.

Aside from writing Phillip has competed in Olympic and Ironman Distance Triathlon events both Nationally and Internationally including a European Age-Group Championship and the World Police and Fire Games.

Taking the opportunity afforded by recent world events to write full-time Phillip is in the process of completing his Debut Crime Thriller, CODE OF SILENCE, finding inspiration in the dark and tragic history of Northern Ireland but also in the black humour, relentless tenacity and Craic of the people who call the fabulous but flawed City of his birth home.

Phillip now lives on the County Down coast and is currently writing two novel series.

The D.I Veronica Taylor Series is set in Belfast and follows the title character as she seeks to redeem her career and her sense of justice following a failed high profile prosecution against one of the city’s premier crime lords. Taylor investigates crime and the city’s criminal underworld while navigating the tightrope of politics and collusion.

The Tom Shepard Series follows an ex-special forces operator attempting to exact revenge on those responsible for a personal tragedy. Shepard unexpectedly uncovers a deeper conspiracy that puts him on a collision course with a shadowy global consortium responsible for greater injustice and threat than just that which has befallen him.

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