Saturday 17 March 2018

The Hippo Hangs Out . . . . with Jack Steele

I’m delighted to be hanging out with the very lovely Jack Steele today. I first became aware of Jack when he popped up in my inbox a couple of years ago asking if I would review his debut novel Loose Cannon for him and since then I’ve become a huge fan of his work. Jack is no stranger to The Hippo, I’ve reviewed both of his books and if he’s not appearing here in a review, then he’s in my favourite books of the year, an accolade which he has achieved with both Loose Cannon and Long Shot!

Come on in and introduce yourself to everyone Jack.

Photo courtesy of Jack Steele

I was born in Hackney, London and grew up on the Bannister House Housing Estate in Hommerton. I now live in Nottinghamshire and married with two grown up children who now have lives of their own, leaving me time to indulge in my favourite passions, reading and writing. I still work full-time in the printing industry which is where I have been for the past 40 years. On many occasions it interferes with my writing, working extra hours or weekends, so it can be a balancing act but one I seem to manage along with an understanding wife of course.

I spent five years researching books, magazines, documentaries, movies and internet articles on various subjects as well as completing a creative writing course and attending workshops run by the Nottingham Writers Studio.

It was a great achievement in 2016 when I published my first Crime Thriller novel 'Loose Cannon' with great reviews. It was the first in the Detective Joe Stone series and I was encouraged to write the sequel ‘Long Shot’ which was published in July 2017.

My writing style is a fast-paced page turner with cliff hangers, moral dilemmas and believable characters.

I would like to thank all my readers, editors, bloggers and Crime book club friends who have been so supportive through this process. Their encouragement drives me on to write the next book in the series.

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Loose Cannon and Long Shot can be read as standalone novels, but personally, I think it’s best to read them in order to really get under the skin of Detective Joe Stone. This is where I let you all into a little secret. . . . .  BOTH of these fabulous books are currently available for only 99p each until the 22nd March. Yes that’s right, you can read them both on your kindle for under £2!! It would be rude not to right? But don't keep it a secret. . . .tell your bookworm friends!

So let me give you a little taste of them both right now.

                                                    Loose Cannon

A psychopath is loose in London. Detective Joe Stone must hunt the serial killer before a gangland civil war breaks out.

Amazon  πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§
Amazon πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

You can read my review here.

                                                       Long Shot

Detective Joe Stone and his team investigate a major terrorist attack on one of London’s most iconic buildings. They soon draw up a list of suspects who are highly respected members of the community and government. When most of his team is attacked, it soon develops into a war of nerves and a race against time before a deadly weapon is unleashed with horrific consequences.

You can read my review here.

Amazon πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§
Amazon  πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

If crime thrillers are your thing, then I’m pretty sure that you’ll enjoy them both. πŸ˜‰

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What other authors are you friends with and how do they help you become a better writer?
I often attend Crime Writer/ Blogger meet ups and chat one-to-one with so many authors. It’s a great way to become friends and ask how they deal with writer’s block, plotlines and other questions.
Many of the book clubs online have regular Author Chats where you can ask questions and again receive great replies.
Both of these, I believe, have enabled me to become a better writer.

Hopefully one of these days we’ll both manage to be at the same one Jack!

Do you often hear from your readers and what do they say?
I am extremely grateful when readers write to me and say how much they are enjoying the series. It spurs me on to keep writing. Just this week I received a letter from Audrey who is 83 and she was so complimentary saying that as long as I kept writing she would keep on reading.
Then there are the reviews from bloggers, readers and fellow authors left on Goodreads and Amazon. I realise the time it takes to read a book and then leave a review so I am extremely grateful.

I’m with Audrey! I remember when I finished reading Loose Cannon, my first thought was to email you to find out if there was another book on its way and I’d never done that before.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Stop putting off writing until later. I am as busy now with a full-time job and family as I was twenty years ago. The difference is to manage the spare time better and maintaining a writing routine.

What did you edit out of your last book?
A final scene where the detectives have solved the crime and throw a party – I thought it slowed the ending down too much even though it provided more characterisation. The balance between keeping the story moving and the character development is a fine one but writing a series enables me to add more layers with each novel.

What do you think is more important: characters or plot?
Obviously they are both extremely important but to answer the question I will say characters. The reasoning is due to the amount of books I have read where I have forgiven an author a weak plot because I identified with the characters so much.

If you could spend time with a character from your book who would it be and why? What would you get up to?
It would have to be Detective Joe Stone purely because I have invested a lot of my character traits into him. I have been told that I am chilled and easy to get along with. I respect the point of view of others even if I may not agree with their stance. I am loyal and trustworthy and able to keep a secret. I like my privacy and find talking to a large crowd sometimes daunting. That has become his traits too.
So if we were to get together then it would have to be in a relaxed environment say a coffee shop or bar where we could chat and get to know each other better. He could tell me his issues and trade banter with me because we have a similar sense of humour.

What character in your book are you least likely to get along with and why?
Jasper Peach is the Strategic Intelligence Unit’s undercover operative. He thinks he is the James Bond of the team. He turns up to team briefs when he feels like it. He is conceited and self-obsessed even refusing to pitch in when any of the team has been compromised or injured.
You couldn’t trust him and basically he is the least likely person that I could get along with.
The fact that he was hand-picked by the team’s commander has often perplexed Joe, the leading detective, who often questions the connection between the two. When the Prime Minister announces that the unit covers the whole of London instead of just Tower Hamlets, Joe fears that his unreliable colleague Peach will create more pressure on already stretched resources.
I have witnessed this kind of behaviour both at work and in my personal life. To watch others attempt to cover someone’s laziness and narcissism while struggling to maintain productivity in their own areas, makes my blood boil. Anyone who doesn’t think to show their appreciation for someone who has compromised their own personal situation to help them just astounds me. 

Do you have any bad habits?
Yes. The main one for me is I am easily distracted. Years ago I would wait for a suitable time to write. I had to be alone to write. The football is on Sky. The weather is too good to be indoors. The excuses meant I wasn’t achieving my goals. So I decided to write every day even if it was just for an hour. I got rid of Sky. If the sun was shining then open the French doors and continue to write while enjoying the fine weather outside.

You’re not alone, I think most of us are guilty of this from time to time Jack  πŸ˜‰

You can find out more about Jack, his books and connect with him using the links below:

I'd like to say a big thank you to Jack for hanging out with me today, it's always great to have you here and I hope that book 3 is progressing nicely. . . . Audrey and I are waiting! πŸ˜‚


  1. You must meet Jack Neats - he's such a lovely man.x

    1. I really do hope that our paths cross one day Linda as he's on my list of authors I'd love to meet πŸ˜‰