To catch a killer, Finn Maguire may have to become one..
Everything changed the day Finn found his father in a pool of blood, bludgeoned to death. His dull, dreary life is turned upside down as he becomes the prime suspect. How can he clear his name and find out who hated his dad enough to kill him?
Facing danger at every turn, uncovering dark family secrets and braving the seedy London underworld, Finn is about to discover that only the people you trust can really hurt you..
We sat down with Crusher author Niall Leonard to talk about the new book and a bit about Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James, who just so happens to be his wife..
Hi Niall, thanks for talking to us - To start off with, for people who are yet to have come across Crusher, how would you introduce it?
Crusher is the story of Finn Maguire, a 17 year old school drop-out serving in a fastfood restaurant. His father, an out-of work actor, is trying to revive his career by scripting a TV series about a London gangster. Finn comes home from work to find his dad bludgeoned to death and his notes missing. He sets out to discover who killed his dad and why.
It’s a pretty dark novel from the outset - what inspired the story? Was it something you’d been thinking about writing for a while?
A few years ago I met a friend of mine while our kids were playing football and she complained her sons never read because they weren’t into sci-fi or vampire romance and that seemed to be what most books for kids were about. I thought to myself, what about the story of a 17 year old detective, in the London of here and now, very real, very gritty? And Crusher grew from there. I spent a few years on and off between projects writing notes about what might happen in the story.
Finn has quite a complicated past, having been involved with drugs and also having had to try and overcome his dyslexia - Where did these parts of his character come from? Were they something you researched?
A relative of mine is dyslexic, though his problem is not as severe as Finn’s, and it held him back at school. I like the idea of a hero who is a lot smarter than people think. I gave Finn a troubled past because it kind of fitted with his broken family, and it equipped him with the experience and the street-smarts to survive in those dark places he has to go to find his dad’s killer.
We loved how everything within the story seems very disconnected at first, but slowly comes together to make you realise it’s all this delicately interconnected web - What do you think the main ingredients of a really good, suspense filled thriller are?
No-one tells the truth, no one can be trusted, and no-one will come to the rescue if you get in trouble. And you need a hero who is tough, brave and resourceful – but not immortal.
Before you turned to writing, you were working as a TV director?
I wanted to learn screenwriting so I went to the National Film School in the UK. While I was there I realised that if you want to tell a story your own way you need to learn to direct too. I am a fine director but none of the shows I ever directed were as good as the movies I saw in my head. Writing brings me far closer to that feeling, if that makes sense, so I chose to pursue it full-time.
Crusher seems quite cinematic in the way that it’s told - do you think your experiences working in telly affect the way you write?
Experience as a director does help, because in a way your characters are actors, and you want them to tell your story through their actions. Good directors coax great performances out of their actors; as a writer it’s simpler, because your actors don’t need to be coaxed – they do what they’re told and don’t argue... most of the time. That said, writing allows you far more freedom that directing, because you can dip in and out of characters’ thoughts and take the audience back and forward in time with just a few sentences. Directing experience can’t help you with that.
And your wife Erika is obviously pretty famous in the world of writing right now too - did she ask you for any advice when writing Fifty Shades? Do you bounce ideas off each other when you’re writing, even though they are very different kinds of novels?
We tell very different stories in very different voices and have very different approaches to writing. We sometimes will tell each other problems we have encountered, but not to seek a solution, more as a way of thinking the problem through out loud. We have never helped each other with writing except in the sense that we encourage each other when the going gets tough, which it always does at some point.
What are you working on next?
Crusher Part 2. If you think Finn had a hard time in Part One...
What are your favourite crime stories?
I loved working on the TV show Wire in the Blood because the producers let us writers tell stories our own way and rarely let directors change the scripts. I enjoyed watching those seminal shows The Sopranos and The Wire of course. In novels I enjoyed the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, although it was almost more cruel and dark than I could bear. The crime novel is a huge genre I wish I knew better, so I am currently reading Black Flowers by the little-known British author Steve Mosby and trying not to let the brilliance of his writing fill me with envy (like Finn’s late dad.)
Who is your favourite villain of all time and what would you do for a 10 minute chat with them?
The greatest must be Hannibal Lecter, as portrayed in Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs. I wouldn’t like to have a 10 minute conversation with him – I doubt I was last that long before being eaten. For conversation I would prefer Harry Flashman, from the novels of George MacDonald Fraser, except he would think me an idiot and tell me a pack of lies the way he does everyone else. Jack Crabb, I think, hero of ‘Little Big Man’ by Thomas Berger. He had some amazing stories to tell.