I am delighted to welcome one of my favourite authors to my blog this week.
I discovered crime writer JD Kirk thanks to the great Facebook group that I’m always mentioning – The UK Crime Book Club. I joined a few years ago now when the numbers were in the low hundreds and there are now, I believe, over 20,000. I have met some fabulous, new to me writers there – and JD Kirk is way up there with the best of them. (Sorry if I sound a bit fan-girly but I had Covid recently and JD’s Logan series as well as his new series, took me right out of myself and even made me laugh out loud on days when I really didn’t feel like laughing).
So if you haven’t come across his books yet, do check them out. The DCI Logan books are police procedurals set in Scotland. They are full of brilliantly drawn characters, evocative settings and great storylines. He is (as I’ve said in the magazine extract below) one of those truly gifted writers who can make you laugh and cry in the same scene. There is one scene in particular that for some reason has stayed in my mind all this time, where he’s delivering some harrowing news to a couple and it’s all very emotional and sad. But at the same time he is sitting in one of those bendy Ikea chairs and wondering how on earth he is going to get out of it! I have one of those chairs and the memory of that scene makes me laugh every time I sit in it.
I contacted JD to see if he would be happy to be featured in my Idea Store column in Writers’ Forum and also on this blog and I was delighted when he said yes. I was particularly interested in talking to him about a spin off series that he’s written, featuring Bob Hoon, a secondary character from the Logan series.
I asked JD what made him choose Bob Hoon – or was he one of those characters who simply would not go away?
‘It was exactly that,’ he explains. ‘And also the complete opposite of that. I never intended Bob Hoon to be anything but a background character – a caricature of a horrible boss, who readers would love to hate. Before long, though, the majority of the emails I was receiving was from readers who either wanted more of Bob in the Logan books, or wanted him removed completely, because they couldn’t stand him. That was when the idea of giving him his own book first came to me, and while I initially dismissed it as a ridiculous idea, it – and he – kept nagging away at me until I could no longer refuse. It was a bit like a demonic possession which I’m now in the process of trying to exorcise!’
I am one of the readers who loved Bob Hoon, mainly because JD Kirk writes with such humour although be warned: if you don’t like strong language in a book then you will definitely be one of the people who don’t like Hoon! He takes swearing to a whole new, creative level.
I have recently finished North Wind, the first in the Hoon series and I loved it. It has all the ingredients I’ve come to expect from a JD Kirk novel – plenty of action, great characters, lots of humour and deeply touching moments of pathos. He is one of those talented writers who can make you laugh and cry in the same scene.
Does he have any more books planned for Bob Hoon?
‘I knew from the outset that I wanted to give him a trilogy, telling one overarching story, but with each able to be read as a standalone. The second book in the series, Southpaw, is published in March, with the third, Westward, coming out in May. Frankly, after everything I put him through, it’s a miracle he survived the first book, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed heaping even more pain and misery on him in the sequels.
‘Part of the appeal of writing a Hoon series was the challenge of taking this frankly horrendous character and getting readers not just to tolerate him, but to actively root for him to succeed. From around the seventh book in the Logan series, I started to introduce a different side to Bob, and while he always remains pretty relentlessly awful, you get to understand why, and see occasional hints that he might not be a complete monster all of the time. Just most of the time.’
He has certainly succeeded, and it has been fascinating to see how Bob Hoon’s character has changed over time as the reader discovers more about his background, which goes part of the way to explaining why he acts the way he does.
But does that mean that there aren’t going to be any more Logan books? I asked JD anxiously, because I – like many others – am a huge fan of the series which just gets better and better.
‘There are plenty more Logan books to come, and I have no plans to stop them at any point soon. I’m already hard at work on book 14, City of Scars, and am starting to throw around ideas for the one after that, too, so Logan is going nowhere!’
Thank you so much for the magazine interview and for agreeing to this Q&A session. Firstly, how would you describe your genre?
I think the Logan series can be best described as a Scottish police procedural with a heavy dusting of dark humour, and the Hoon series as “Jack Reacher, but with a lot more swearing.”
Great answer! I’m a huge Reacher fan. What inspires you most when you start writing? Is it the characters? Settings?
For me it’s always about the characters first and foremost. Everything else comes a distant second. With the Logan series, while the plots are all proper crime fiction storylines with murders happening left, right, and centre, readers keep coming back to spend time with those characters again, not to find out whodunnit.
We certainly do. I think I’m more than a little in love with Jack Logan.
Tell us a little about your writing journey. How did it start?
I’ve wanted to be an author since I was nine years old, when I first discovered you could get paid for making up stories!
The first piece of writing I was ever paid for was a comedy horror screenplay set in the Highlands of Scotland, which I wrote when I was 17. Since then, I’ve written over 200 books for dozens of publishers, under a variety of pen names, covering everything from picture books to science fiction.
That’s an incredible body of work. And your plans for the future? Lots more Logan books I hope.
I write about 5-6 books a year, so my future plans are largely to slow down a bit and occasionally take some time off! Whether that will ever happen, though, is a different matter.
Beyond that, I’m developing a new series that’s part crime fiction, part fantasy, which is unlike anything else I’ve ever written. The first book, RAGNAROK RIDGE, should be out towards the end of the year.
5 to 6 books a year is an astonishing output, especially books of such high quality. I should think you have totally earned the right to take some time off. Although speaking as one of your fans, I can’t help hoping it won’t be for too long.
Finally, tell us three things about you that we might not know about you.
1 I wrote for The Beano for a number of years.
2 I (technically) co-wrote a book with Roald Dahl long after his death.
3 Since 2018, I have exclusively self-published all my own work.
The Beano and Roald Dahl! My son was an ardent fan of both and he will be well impressed – as am I.
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions so patiently.
Social Media Links, blog, website etc.
The all important buy links.
JD Kirk is the author of the multi-million selling DCI Logan series. He also does not exist. Instead, he’s the alter ego of author Barry Hutchison, who lives halfway up a mountain in the remote Highlands of Scotland with his wife, two children, and an assortment of annoying pets. He enjoys reading, eating excessively, and writing about himself in third person.