Every second or third Wednesday of the month, I feature an author here on the blog and interview them to learn more about them and their latest book. You can find my previous interviews here. Some of my questions stay the same from author to author but I also like to tailor some specifically to my interviewee. Feel free to add your own questions for the author in the comments below so we can start a wider conversation!
Today I’m joined by Gregg Dunnett, author of The Wave at Hanging Rock!
The Wave at Hanging Rock by Gregg Dunnett
Genre: Psychological Thriller
What if the best friend you had growing up turned out to be a psychopath? Might just a little of it rub off on you?
JESSE is just twelve years old when his dad dies and his mum moves him from the Sunshine Coast in Australia, to a village in Wales where it never stops raining. And that’s where his luck really runs out.
He’s stuck with a grieving mother, classmates who won’t accept him, and worst of all – no-one to go surfing with. Until he meets John. Cool, handsome, confident. He’s head boy at the nearby private school, and a keen surfer. Jesse is so keen to make friends he barely notices the little things that aren’t quite right. Will Jesse realise what he’s getting close to before it’s too late?
NATALIE is beautiful, newly qualified as a clinical psychologist and recently married to the perfect man. But her charmed life is torn apart when her husband goes missing in mysterious circumstances. Can she discover what happened to him? And can she keep her own dark secret hidden while doing so?
The Wave at Hanging Rock is a powerful and intelligent thriller where that will grip you from the first line, and keep you guessing till the very last page.
Q: Let’s start with a little game to learn more about you: what are two truths and a lie about yourself?
A: I once swam the English Channel dressed as a shark. I once grew a prize-winning marrow (beginner’s luck). I once rescued a baby from certain death in a bush fire. And I will never reveal which is the lie.
Q: How did you get into writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
A: Yes, from about the age of about six. Before that I wanted to be a ship captain. It took me until I was about thirty-five to actually start trying to be a writer though. The good thing is it’s a career that you can develop later in life, so hopefully I’ve got plenty of time left.
Q: What other jobs have you had?
A: Although I’ve done quite a few rubbish jobs along the way I’ve been incredibly lucky with my ‘career’. After university I taught English for a few years in various places around the world, and then taught water sports for a few more after that. Then I was offered a job for a windsurfing magazine testing equipment, which had to be done abroad where it was warm enough to spend all day in the water. So for nearly ten years I spent every February in the Caribbean and most Octobers out in Egypt. I saw a lot of other nice places as well. The winter after that came to an end was a real shock. Most recently I’ve been working in a local government role which was also a comedown, but interesting in its own way as well. I’ve got two children now and currently I’m a stay-at-home dad looking after them, and writing in whatever spare moments I get.
Q: As this is your first novel, were there any parts of the writing or publishing process that surprised you? Anything that really stood out from your past writing experience for magazines?
A: Being an independent author is totally different to what I expected. I’ve had an interest in being a writer for decades and every time I’ve heard the tales of authors being rejected by publishers for years before finally breaking through (sometimes after they died). I assumed that’s what I was getting into. And while you can still go that route, if you choose to publish independently, it’s totally different. It’s much more like setting up a business, you’re project-managing creation of artwork, editing, proofreading, production of ebooks, paperbacks, advertising, marketing, social media, approaching kind bloggers like yourself…The production part – the actual writing – is only a small part of it. But it seems the chances of success are about the same.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your book?
A: My favourite film ever is The Usual Suspects because I love the way your entire idea of what the film was about falls apart in the final scene. I wrote The Wave at Hanging Rock as a kind of homage to this film, and it has a similar trick in it. It’s a story about three kids who grow up in a pretty wild way on the coast in Wales, and who spend their time fishing, and exploring and surfing. And they discover an amazing wave hidden inside a private estate that they shouldn’t be in. And it’s about what happens when they pledge to keep the wave secret at all costs.
Q: What inspired you to tell this story?
A: I don’t know the answer to that, but I will tell a story that answers a slightly different question. I got stuck with the plot about three quarters of the way through writing the book, and (as I tend to do) I took a long walk on the beach to try and sort it out. On the way I made the firm decision to give up. I decided it just wasn’t believable that kids would behave as badly and immorally as my characters were. Then I nearly got killed when a large rock landed a few feet away from me. I looked up and saw three kids on the clifftop above me, hurling more stones down at me. Just for the hell of it. Just because kids sometimes do really stupid things. I pulled out my phone and pretended to take photos of them and then to call the police, and they ran off, and I went straight home and got on with writing the book some more.
Q: I hear you’re a windsurfer too, like the characters in your book; are there any other aspects of your life that have transferred over to your story?
A: I’m one of those people that can’t stay cooped up in a city for too long. I need to get out to the mountains or ideally the coast. Really I have to see the sea once a day to feel OK. Now I’ve got kids it’s hard to get out onto the water that often, so I’ve taken to swimming quite a bit. I’m sure some of that love of the outdoors and the exposure of the wilder places has made it into the book.
Q: What have you found most rewarding in your writing career?
A: I think it’s a bit early to say I have a writing career. But it’s very nice when people email to say they have enjoyed the book. It makes it all feel worthwhile. That’s a very nice feeling.
Q: What are you working on next?
A: Actually I’ve got several and I’m kind of working on them all at the same time. The next book I’ll definitely bring out is called The Desert Run. It’s a down-to-earth story of two graduates who decide to smuggle a car load of Moroccan dope into the UK to pay off their student debts. Like The Wave at Hanging Rock, I’m giving this away free as well, people just need to sign up to my mailing list and I’ll send them a free copy as soon as it’s out.
Q: And now for some fun questions: What is your Hogwarts house?
A: You’d have to ask the sorting hat. I’d hope not Slytherin though
Q: Favourite flavour of ice cream?
A: Not a big fan of ice cream, but a spoon of vanilla on a good home made rhubarb crumble is quite nice.
Q: Dogs or cats?
A: Dog – very large, black Labrador-cross called Grubby.
Q: And finally, where can we find you?
A: www.greggdunnett.co.uk is my online home. Physically I’m based in Bournemouth, on the south coast of the UK.
Thank you Gregg for stopping by today! If you have any questions for him, you can leave them in the comments here or visit any of the links above.
And don’t forget, The Wave at Hanging Rock is FREE so go get it now! I highly recommend it, especially if you love thrillers, and even better if you’re into surfing.
Seriously guys, it’s so good!! (Review coming in January)
Also, unrelated news but I wanted to announce the winner of my giveaway from last week. Congratulations to Stacy Krout who won a paperback of the new thriller, Arlington by Winston! I’ll be having another giveaway next month so stay tuned!