Interview with the authors:

Astounding insights into the writing of ‘Avaline Saddlebags’ by Netta Newbound and Marcus Brown

The honesty of the answers will put a smile on your face…

On 2ndSeptember ‘Avaline Saddlebags’ by Netta Newbound and Marcus Brown will be published and I’m delighted to be able to bring you a tantalising fact or two about this book from the writers, who between them are well-established and best-selling authors of many crime, horror and psychological thrillers. 

As soon as I saw the cover and read the title I completely understood why this book is sending ripples of excitement through the world of crime fiction lovers. The blurb lets us know we are in for a treat, especially if we love serial killer thrillers and a detective to invest in.

HERE IS THE BLURB: Following the brutal murders of Jade Kelly and Gina Elliot, newly promoted DI Dylan Monroe is assigned to work the case, alongside DS Layla Monahan.

As the body count rapidly rises—each slaying more savage than the last—it soon becomes clear the butchered and mutilated victims have one thing in common—they are all male to female transsexuals.

With time against them, Dylan is forced to go undercover in the only place that provides a link to the victims—Dorothy’s, a well-known drag and cabaret bar in the heart of Liverpool.

Well goodness me, the setting for the investigation is ‘Dorothy’s’, a ‘drag and cabaret bar in the heart of Liverpool.’ There is the hook, and there is the key to that wonderful title. But I want to know more and September is just too far away, so Netta Newbound and Marcus Brown, the authors, have kindly agreed to give a cheeky glimpse into the creation of ‘Avaline Saddlebags’.

They’re not new to joint working arrangements, given that they’re the directors of independent publishing company – Junction Publishing, but must bounce well off each other to take on co-writing. It can’t be easy. All the more astonishing is the fact Netta and Marcus live as far apart as it’s possible to get, with Marcus here in the UK and Netta located the other side of the world.  – The Internet makes almost anything possible. 

But just how easy is it to collaborate on a crime thriller with all the intricacies of plot, dialogue, and writing style to contend with, never mind different time zones?

Let’s find out.

Netta and Marcus, welcome. Without giving away too many secrets, I’d love to know…

  • Where did the name Avaline Saddlebags come from and was it the only title you came up with for this story?

Hi Alison – Thanks for featuring us in your blog. We are honoured!

This is Marcus…

Avaline Saddlebags is a name I used to get called by a good friend who often tried to convince me to become the next Lily Savage. It wasn’t something I was ever interested in as drag queens can be terrifying and the thought of lip syncing on stage in front of a hyper critical audience didn’t thrill me at all. Still, the name stuck, and I was forever known as ‘Our Avaline’ or ‘Avaline Saddlebags’ when I entered this particular bar on the Wirral. The nickname soon went beyond that bar and people would often refer to me as Avaline when I was out and about (Ugh!).

I once asked my friend why he chose that particular name and he said ‘You look like an Avaline (I don’t!) and you’re a bit heavy around the hips (I was)… make of that what you will, but that is how it all started.

As for the naming of the book, we decided on Avaline Saddlebags very early on, then one of us, probably me, thought it might be too OTT, so we came up with another name (A Deadly Transformation / A Deadly Metamorphosis – we never decided which one), had a cover designed, then eventually reverted back to the original title as Netta rightly stated it would catch people’s eye. And along with the cover, it seems to have done the trick. 

  • Writing a book is hard enough for any author, but how does the process of writing work between the two of you? 

Marcus here! Well as you know, I am in the UK and Netta is in New Zealand. We start work about 10pm UK time, and NZ is about 12 hours ahead. We Skype one another and go through what we wrote individually the day before, chop and change it, sometimes scratch parts out and try again, then add it to the master document. It really is quite easy and not as hard as people might imagine it to be.

Netta here! I think the reason it works so well is because we’ve been working together closely for a while now and we proofread and edit together for the Junction Publishing side of things, so our writing styles seemed to have merged along the way. We had a lot of minor disagreements when we first set out, two totally different styles of writing, but now, it’s strange, I honestly can’t tell where my writing ends and Marcus’ begins and I hope that’s the same for you guys when you get to read it. 

  • If there is ever a difference of opinion, who gets the final say-so and why?

Marcus here!

It hasn’t happened really to any major degree. We are on the same page most of the time. When we’re reading through what we have worked on the night before, if anything crops up, we both make suggestions then and get it changed. It isn’t ever a drama because we’re used to working with one another so closely and are probably more in sync from editing other authors work and making suggestions there. 

Netta here! I’m the boss! Nah, only kidding. As Marcus said, we get on really well. I don’t think we’ve ever had a proper argument. We’re both pretty laid back, but not afraid to dig our heels in if we feel strongly about something. I think if we did disagree about something there could be fireworks, but it’s not happened as of yet. 

  • I’m always fascinated by how characters drive a story – what can you tell us about DI Dylan Monroe? What makes him tick? 

Dylan is a gay guy, newly promoted and working his first big case. He wants to do a good job, but also wants to win his new team over. He was promoted over some of his colleagues and worries there is resentment. When the victims start piling up, he takes it quite personally as somebody is targeting a part of his community. Catching the killer makes is what makes him tick, and although he is in a relationship, he is focused on catching the killer. 

  • Drag and Cabaret are a source of great bawdy humour, how did you achieve the balance between suspense and fun when writing about Dorothy’s, the club which features in the story?

This is Marcus.

It’s quite easy for me as I spent a lot of my twenties in gay bars, and used to go to drag shows in Blackpool, but Dorothy’s is featured for a specific purpose, and that is for Dylan to try and learn who the killer is. It’s a whole new world to him. Yes, he is gay, but it is just a part of who he is and it doesn’t define him. I suppose the humour in this is mostly the people Dylan comes across, ie, Chris/Blanche, who owns Dorothy’s and Roy/Betty Swallocks who takes Dylan under her wing and helps his transformation from DI Dylan Monroe to Avaline. There is also Dylan’s partner, Bella, who is on maternity leave throughout the book – she loves to tease him and is thrilled when he is forced into becoming a drag queen as part of the undercover operation to catch the killer.

Netta here. For me, I’ve always been fascinated by fancy dress, and I know this is different but in essence it’s the same. I love the way a shy retiring person can become raucous and wild if they dress in the right outfit. The same can be said of the opposite too. I once remember going to a fancy dress party as Lady Hamilton at my husband’s insistence as he was Lord Nelson. Well, I’m usually a bit of a party animal and it doesn’t take much to get me warmed up, but that night was the most boring night of my life. The outfit definitely toned down my behaviour – how funny. So for me, the way Dylan hated the thought of performing at the beginning and then found he had a talent for it and actually enjoyed it made me laugh. 

  • And finally… what can we expect next? And does book two of the series have a title yet?

You can definitely expect a book two, which does already have a title, but we’re not going to reveal that, just yet. We have to keep some mystery. One thing is for certain; it will be a rollercoaster of a read, with our twisted minds coming together once again.

Thank you so much for giving your time to answer my burning questions, and for your superb responses. I’m so looking forward to reading this one. Ali Morgan

Thanks again for thinking of us. It has been a pleasure!

Netta & Marcus

Avaline Saddlebags is available for pre-order via the following link.

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