Author Interview – Kerry J. Donovan

If you enjoy reading thrillers and suspense, Kerry’s stories might just be your cuppa!


What genre(s) do your write? In the main, I write crime fiction, character-centric police procedurals. Although my next publication, The Transition of Johnny Swift, is a paranormal thriller with a strong romantic thread running through the heart of the story.

KJD - head shotCan you tell us a little bit about yourself? Not a lot to tell, really. I’m a fifty-something, granddad, born in Ireland and now living in France. I have a PhD in exercise physiology, and used to be a cabinetmaker. Now, I write. That’s it.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? I’ve been writing since the moment I could hold a pen, and finished my first novel in 1985. But then life intervened and the family’s needs took over. When you have three small children, it is strange how often they needed to eat and writing wasn’t paying the food bills. I returned to writing again in 2011, after completing the renovation work on our cottage in Brittany.

What is the last book you read? Blue Lightning (Shetland) by Ann Cleves.

Which writers inspire you? The main crime fiction guys. People like Grisham, Connelly, Coben from the US, and historic fiction author CJ Sansome.

Where did you get the idea from for your novel, “The Transition of Johnny Swift”?KJD_The Transition of Johnny Swift - Cover The idea stemmed from the title, which came to me while waiting for someone at the bank to answer my call. You know the kind of thing. You’re hanging on a call and they’re playing that electronic music to fill in the time. Every now and again, a voice tells you ‘your call is important to us’, but they still don’t have time for you. I doodled on a note pad and came up with a title, ‘The Transition of Johnny Swift’.
Then I started asking questions. Who is Johnny Swift? Into what did he transition? The questions intrigued me enough to write the novel.

Can you tell us something about the story? To be honest, I find writing a synopsis the hardest part of the whole creative process, so I’ll leave it to someone who read an Advanced Review Copy, Michaela Miles. Her review says it all:

“The novel takes you through a championship-winning, romance-kindling high, to the spectacularly sensory and visceral realism of a horrifying train crash. But that, as they say, is just the beginning. We run a gauntlet of doctors, neurosurgeons, and psychiatrists, all while being courted by the mysterious Shadow-man. Who is he, what does he want, and is he even real?

To tell you that would be more than a spoiler, however I can say that the characters are well-rounded and easy to identify with and the plot orchestrates a masterful struggle between reality and fantasy; life and death. But the attention to detail is something I really love about Kerry’s work. Kerry is meticulous with his research and draws on his scientific background to add depth and realism to his writing that is lacking in a lot of books in his genres.

The Transition of Johnny Swift also has a lovely romantic thread woven through and it too has its share of struggles.

This book really has something for everyone, and is an intelligent and compelling read. It’s a fascinating trip into the blurry line between science-based fiction, psychological thriller, and the paranormal.”

*Blushes* I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Who do you think will like reading your book and what other novels do you think are similar to it? Anyone who likes a fast moving well told yarn. There are elements of thriller here, horror too, and a strong romantic thread running through the whole story.

KJD_Flynn Final Part 2 - 2Are you working on a new book or story at the moment? Of course. I’m always working on a new story. My current WIP is the next in my DCI Jones Casebook series, provisionally called ‘Portmanteau’. The novel is a series of cases worked by the Midlands Police Serious Crime Unit during the (fictitious) long hot summer of 2011. Lovers of my hero, Detective Chief Inspector David Jones, will learn more about him and his colleagues. The cases, although important to the novel, are more a vehicle I use to show the individual members of the team in all their flawed glory.

Where can people go to read your work and when will it be available? All my novels are available to order on Amazon, and you can find links on my website.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? The writing process is personal to each of us and there are no hard and fast rules. The only think I’d say is read loads and write more. You can’t be a writer without putting words down on paper, or into a word processor. That’s it, there is no secret. Write. Right?

Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those? Reviews are the lifeblood of the writer—even negative ones. Notice I say ‘negative’ here, not ‘bad’. A negative review can be valuable if it is constructive and points out where a writer has missed the mark for that particular reader. Negative reviews can help us improve.

A bad review on the other hand, is nothing more than a rant. Fortunately, I’ve only ever received one bad review, which turned out to have been written by one of those inveterate trolls who like to cut people down for no reason.

On the other hand, I love good reviews—who doesn’t. It shows people are reading your work and liking it enough to sing your praises. I go gooey all over when I receive them, and fortunately, I’ve received quite a few.

If you review other’s books, what is your approach to reviewing those? I like to be honest, but I’ll never give a totally negative review to an independent. If I can’t find something positive or supportive to say, I won’t crit. Likewise, if I can’t finish a book, I won’t review.
However, traditionally published novelists are fair game, especially if the typo count and the spelling and grammar errors are too high. I reckon, if a bestselling author is ‘dialing them in’, they deserve all the lambasts they receive. For me, there is no excuse for lazy writing or lazy editing, especially for a professional writer with the backing of a publishing house. We all make mistakes, but there’s no excuse in some cases. Rant ends.

Links: Kerry’s Website
The DCI Jones Casebook: Raymond Francis Collins  
 The DCI Jones Casebook: Ellis Flynn

Excerpt from Chapter 8 of “The Transition of Johnny Swift”
 Frank Brazier is with his sister, Paula. It’s early in the morning. They await the arrival of a train to take them to London where Paula is booked to give a piano recital at her university. Frank is the narrator:

I lead her towards the first class carriage at the head of the train and my legs falter.

Fuck, no!

The Shadow-couple again. Christ. Is it possible? They stand, hand in hand, positioning themselves between the train and me, and spread wide across the platform, barring my progress. My footsteps waver and I stop.

“What’s wrong, Frank?” Paula asks. “You’ve gone all Casper.”

I point along the platform at the dark shapes not fifty feet away. “Tell me what you see,” I ask, forcing the croaking words through a brick-dry throat.

Paula’s eyes narrow. “A train on the left and an elderly couple on the right. Apart from that, an empty platform.”

Cold fear grips my heart. Does she see the shadows as normal people?

“What old couple?”

“Frankie, stop messing about, you’re scaring me. There’s an old couple getting into our carriage, but that’s all. What’s wrong with you?”

All I can see are the shadows floating toward me, silent and fluid, growing larger. I lean to one side to see around them. An elderly man is helping a blue-rinsed woman board the train. He’s wearing a dark suit, shiny shoes. She’s in a print dress, a summer bonnet, and lilac jacket. The man follows her inside the carriage, pulling a pink suitcase behind him. In front of them, the Shadow-couple stops, spectre arms wide, barring my way. What am I going to do?

“Kidding, Screech,” I laugh. “Checking you’re awake.”

I grab Paula’s hand and step forward, holding my breath. With my eyes closed, we pass through them, through the Shadows.

A mist sprays the exposed skin of my face and hands. Silence descends. I shiver, but a moment later, we’re through into the light of the morning, warm and dry.

Birds chirrup in flight, and a guard blows a whistle. The train’s metal contracts and creaks as it cools. In the distance, a green bus passes over the main road bridge, sunlight glints off its vibrating windows. Steam rises from the brewery’s twin smoke stacks. The pungent stink of activated yeast will soon saturate the atmosphere, but we’ll be well on our way to London by then.

“Did you feel that?” I ask.

“Feel what?”

“The mist.”

Paula glances up at the cloudless sky. “How much did you have to drink last night? You sound like you’re attending one of my séances. C’mon train’s leaving.”

We dart forward and jump aboard before the doors close behind us. The carriage shudders and starts to roll along the track. I lower the window and poke my head through the gap. The empty platform disappears behind the train as the track curves away. The Shadows are no longer there. I take my seat.

Apart from the elderly couple sitting at the far end, we are alone, sitting opposite each other, both with a window seat. I face the engine, and let Paula travel backwards. The sun shines low, barely making it through the filthy windows, and bathes the carriage in a foggy, lemon glow. Despite the haze, the plush cabin is warm and bright.

The mist scared the crap out of me. Visions, I can explain away as figments of an over-excited race-day imagination, loose cells floating in front of my retina. But a mist? It wasn’t exactly clammy, but it definitely tickled my skin. That I felt something at all makes the whole vision thing real. Things are worsening by the day. Not one, but two Shadow people now. And they have a physical presence.

Where’s it going to end?



4 thoughts on “Author Interview – Kerry J. Donovan

  1. Another great post. Love the cover for the new book, Kerry. Good luck with this, it looks like it should sell. 🙂 My cousin loves this genre so I’m recommending it.

  2. Susan–you always have such wonderful interviews. Thank you for sharing these on your blog. Good luck, Kerry, with your new book. My copy is ordered and I can’t wait to read it.

    • Thanks for stopping by and so glad you enjoyed. I sure Kerry is more excited about “Transition” than both of us and will appreciate your good wishes and your order.

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