Q&A with Sam Blake

Today I am pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for High Pressure. I’m sharing my Q&A with the author with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell for inviting me on the tour and to Sam Blake for answering my questions!

Have you always wanted to write?

Yes, I think I always knew I’d write a book, I was always a huge reader and very creative.

What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process?

When I left university I worked in marketing and PR for an international property management company whose main business was shopping centres – I worked at The Harlequin in Watford as the second and third phases opened so I did everything from TV ads to Christmas grottos, Dr Who visits, and a few bats thrown in. I love marketing and creative angles on publicity, I think selling is part of my DNA – not very useful in the actual writing, but useful when it comes to marketing a book, it’s very hard to stand out with the number of books published every day.

What was your inspiration for High Pressure?

When I heard about the pop star Ollie Murs thinking he’d heard gunshots in Selfridges in London and the chaos caused by his subsequent tweet, it started me thinking about the impact and power of social media – and how dangerous it could become. Then I saw a girl in the Tube with fabulous pink hair and a story started to grow. I’d written a character in No Turning Back, Anna Lockharte, who was a terrorism expert with a fascinating backstory, and I didn’t feel her story was over yet – she fitted perfectly into the idea what was developing. I’d been to a reception in the Irish Embassy in London one incredibly hot night, and I felt it was the perfect place for Brioni O’Brien (with the pink hair) to meet Anna Lockharte.

How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?

I think character are the life blood of great fiction, and as I reader I want you to feel that you know them so well that you could chat to them if you met them. I usually start off with a name (which can change) and a job or a bit of their background. Then I work out how old they were when the book is set and work back their timeline to find out what they’ve been doing – where they went to school, what they studied in University, or where they’ve worked. Every character has small details that help make them rounded and real – a particular perfume or favourite tune, or a piece of jewellery that helps me get inside their head and understand who they are. I sometimes use characteristics of people I’ve come across, but my characters tend to be very individual. I’m a very visual writer so I create a story board for every book and find pictures of people who look like them on the internet, plus pictures of their homes and the locations that feature.

What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I used to be a real plotter, although by plot I mean I’d map out about 30 chapters so I’d know where I was going, but always end up with about 60+. It’s important to let the story unfold in its own way and that can happen unexpectedly. I feel the magic happens in your subconscious mind and half the battle is learning to tune in to that.

How did you research High Pressure? Did you enjoy it?

My degree is in history so I love research, but High Pressure is set in that scorching summer of 2018 and I was in London at the time thinking I’d like to write a summer book, so many of the events I might have had to research were unfolding around me. I did do a lot of research into chemical weapons and government emergency plans, bus routes and the location of police stations – I want the story to ring true whoever is reading it, whether you are a London Met officer or an events coordinator, so it’s vital to me to get the detail right.

Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them?

Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is my favourite book of all time but I love the pace of Lee Child and Michael Connolly. I think we’re influenced by everything we read in some way.

If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be and why?

Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Daphne du Maurier, I think they’d have loads to talk about!

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?

Jacob Reece Mogg, he reminds me of the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. 

Who would play the main character/s in a film version of High Pressure?

Dakota Johnson and Julia Roberts perhaps? Good question, I need to go and spend more time visualising that one!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Go to the gym, but I have very little spare time, I fill it with writing.

What is next for you?

I’ve another book out in January called Remember My Name that will take readers to another part of the Sam Blake world – we get to see more of Brioni in another high stakes, high tension story. And I’m writing book eight at the moment. I’ve just joined the board of the Crime Writers Association and I’m working on National Crime Reading Month which is happening in June 2022 and I hope it’s something that all crime fans will be able to get involved in.

Favourites:

Book? Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Film? Shawshank Redemption/Wizard of Oz

Band/Singer? – Adele (but I don’t listen to much music)

TV show? – I barely watch TV but just caught up with Martin Clunes in Man Hunter and it was enthralling

Colour? I only wear black but I love red.

Place? London.

Biscuit? Digestive (at the moment, fighting those pounds!) in an ideal world those lovely Jacobs chocolate biscuits that have a jelly heart on the top – but I’ve only seen them in catering packs!

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High Pressure is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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