Each Thursday I ask ten questions to authors of mystery, thriller and suspense about their books, their inspirations and how to get away with the perfect murder. In the hot seat this week is... JAMES P. SUMNER.
After running the gamut of office jobs from telesales to banking and not managing to scratch that creative itch, James started writing True Conviction, his first book, in 2013. Publishing it independently led to it being downloaded over 100,000 times on Amazon and the subsequent entries in the Adrian Hell series being Amazon bestsellers. He made the leap to being a full-time author in 2016.
Q1. Hello James! Can You Tell Us A Bit About Yourself And Your Books?
I’m James P. Sumner, I’m 35, and I live in the north of England with my wife, son, and mental dog.
I’ve been writing for almost five years, and in that time I’ve penned 7 novels, 2 novellas, 2 short stories, and compiled 2 boxsets.
I write action thrillers that focus on the world’s deadliest assassin, Adrian Hell. He’s a little unorthodox, but he’s very good at what he does. He has his demons, and he has a very strong moral compass. The fact he sees the world in black and white sometimes works in his favour… other times to his detriment.
But he’s not just another hitman, and my stories give you an insight into his mind, as well as his adventures.
Q2. What Three Things Should Readers Expect From A James P. Sumner Novel?
Non-stop action. Razor-sharp dialogue. A few nights without sleep!
Q3. Can You Tell Us About Your Character Adrian Hell?
Adrian Hell is a complex guy. He uses humour (sarcasm, mostly) as a way of hiding his feelings, and also as a coping mechanism for his increasingly bad life.
The start of the series focuses on his own journey of escaping his dark past. A mistake he made early in his career led to his wife and daughter being murdered, and for years he’s struggled with the guilt of that. Once he finds a way to move on from that, a new chapter of his life begins, and with it comes more challenging obstacles for him.
Readers have said he’s the kind of guy you know deep down you should hate, but after reading his stories, you just want to have a beer with him!
Q4. If Your Books Were Turned Into Movies, Who Would Play Your Main Characters?
Ah, the age-old debate! Not Tom Cruise, I can tell you that much! Haha! But seriously, I like to think I’ve written the character in a way that everyone who reads my books is left with a slightly different opinion of who could play him.
For me, in my head when I’m writing, it’s a cross between Sullivan Stapleton (and his character from Strike Back), and Jason Statham.
Q5. How Do You Come Up With The Ideas For Your Stories – What Is Your Inspiration?
In terms of “my next book”, and what comes next in my series, that’s very much up to my character and how he deals with what comes first. Sounds silly, but I very rarely know much about what’s going to happen beforehand.
I think of myself as a reporter. I’m just following this guy around, and writing down what he says/does so other people will know. In terms of inspiration, I simply want to make each book an improvement on the last. How can I make his adventures better? What would be more fun for the reader than what I did last time?
Q6. What Do You Enjoy Most About Writing Thrillers?
I’ve always read these types of books, and when I was younger, I loved imagining myself in the character’s shoes, going through the things they did, seeing the world through their eyes. That’s what I strive to do in my books now. I write in the first person/present tense, so you see what Adrian sees, as he sees it.
You don’t know what will come next, or even what he’ll do next, but you see his own thought process as he makes those decisions, and he takes you along for the ride. I love taking my reader on that kind of journey, and I think I would struggle to do that in quite the same way in any other genre.
Q7. What Are You Working On Right Now?
At the moment, I’m working on the 8th book in my Adrian Hell series. I’m about 20% through the first draft, and it’s shaping up to be a good one!
Q8. Who Are Your Favourite Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Authors?
I loved Lee Child’s earlier work, but I'm not a fan of his last few Reacher books if I’m honest. I love Garth Ennis, who’s a comic book writer. His Jennifer Blood series, and his work on Marvel’s Punisher Max series was incredible.
Q9. You're Being Sent To A Desert Island. You Can Only Take One Book With You. What Is It?
Ooooh, tough one. Killing Floor is my favourite Lee Child book, and I read it once a year, so I guess it would have to be that. Oh, no, wait! Changed my mind! It would be the Watchmen graphic novel by Alan Moore. Legendary!
Q10. How Do You Get Away With The Perfect Murder?
Make it look like a suicide.