Monday, January 19, 2015

Interviews with Indie Authors: Nick Bryan

Today, joining us for the Interview With Indie Authors series and the first stop on his Blog Tour launch of Rush Jobs --the second book in the Hobson & Choi series-- is Nick Bryan. 

(Oh dear, it looks as though we've caught him by surprise...)

Nick is a London-based writer of genre fiction, usually with some blackly comic twist. As well as the detective saga Hobson & Choi, he is also working on a novel about the real implications of deals with the devil and has stories in several anthologies.

More details on his other work and news on future Hobson & Choi releases can be found on his blog at or on Twitter as @NickMB. Both are updated with perfect and reasonable regularity.

Subscribe to his mailing list using the form in the sidebar of to get news first and an all-new free Hobson & Choi short story immediately!

When not reading or writing books, Nick Bryan enjoys racquet sports, comics and a nice white beer.

Nick is also a buddy of mine from our old Jukepop serial days (does that make me sound old? It was only a few months ago, but it feels like ages). You recall, I'm sure, when I would get all excited because Blade's Edge had made it into the top 30 for the month? Well, Nick's Hobson & Choi serial was always in the top ten and generally #1. Not even joking. He won awards.

So, it is with comradely pride (minus any communist undertones -- no offense to any communists out there) that I host him here on Rain on a Summer's Afternoon for the opening of his blog tour.

To start with I should say that through Jukepop I have read the original versions of Hobson & Choi books 1 through 3 and enjoyed them thoroughly. I enjoyed them so much that I actually went ahead and bought a copy of The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf even though I'd already read the Jukepop version. Of course, Nick has done a solid rewrite of the Jukepop versions along with a professional cover, editing, formatting etc, for the paid volumes of the books. 

Anyway, before we get too far distracted, here is my review of The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf: 

Hobson is a curmudgeonly detective with anger management issues in need of an assistant who is tech savvy, but not annoying enough to want to punch. 
Choi is a mature and tech savvy high school student in need of an internship that won't bore her to tears.  
Together they form an unlikely partnership as they set off to solve an even less likely murder case.

Yet the two characters are likable, believable, and make you care about what happens to them and the mystery they find themselves grappling with. 
Hobson and Choi's first case is a gripping read that will have you laughing, tearing up a bit, and unwilling to put it down.
You can tell I like it, right? So, by all means enter to win a free copy of the book in Nick's give away (more details below) but since only two people are going to win those, go ahead and buy yourself a copy of the first (and second) Hobson & Choi books.

Speaking of the Giveaway.... Here are the prizes you can win:
  • 1 Signed paperback set of the Hobson & Choi series (The Girl who Tweeted Wolf & Rush Jobs)
  • 3 e-book sets of the Hobson & Choi series
Click this link to sign up!

If you're not tempted yet, let's see how you feel after the interview and excerpt. So, let's get right down to it. Nick's answers were going to be in the color of coffee, the lifeblood of writers, detectives, and teens alike, but that proved too difficult to read so they are instead in this lovely light blue, apropos of absolutely nothing.

And... here we go:

1. For those who enjoy a bit more description than I provided in my review, tell us a bit about the Hobson & Choi series.
Hobson & Choi is a series of grimly humourous London crime books self-published by me, Nick Bryan. They revolve around John Hobson, a demotivated detective, and Angelina Choi, a teenage girl who turns up at his agency for work experience and encourages him to take on more current, interesting and scary cases. 
The just-released second book, Rush Jobs, revolves around Hobson and Choi taking on their first batch of gigs after the one which first introduced them. It’s a chance to become better acquainted with both each other and the world they've stumbled into.

2. Hobson & Choi began its life as a Jukepop serial... Can you tell us a little bit about that process and how well it worked for this particular story?
Like many of my ideas, Hobson & Choi was originally conceived as a more sci-fi/fantasy-tinged project. Once I started making some notes, though, it upped sticks to an almost-real world, a heightened satirical reality. After a year of prep, it was pulled out of my notebooks when I needed a webserial idea to submit to Jukepop - I thought the detective premise would lend itself well to an ongoing run of stories.
I've enjoyed a lot of TV shows, comics and general serialised stories, so liked the idea of a forward-marching prose series, with subplots, cliffhangers and an array of recurring characters. Even in the new, improved book form, it's very much a continuous story. I wouldn't recommend reading it out of order, the soap opera won’t make sense and characters from previous volumes have a habit of returning.
3. How did you wind up pairing a curmudgeonly private detective with a bright but awkward teenage girl?
The two characters emerged mostly-formed – the idea of a middle-aged, grizzled chap and teenage girl were meant to let me cover both old-school crime-underworld or new-world tech-online adventures. The heroes take turns being a fish out of water, with just enough common ground to co-exist. 
And outside the job, they're both fishes out of water in their own lives, Hobson due to his oft-hinted Dark Past and Choi because of her fuzzy background and awkward relations with her family. 
Indeed, in wider terms, the character pairing also reflects the combined genres of earnest YA and darker adult crime, which kinda combine into one glorious mess in the H&C series.

4. What kind of research do you find yourself doing?
I try to stay on top of the latest swearwords, plus visit most of the London locations I write about to make sure it doesn't sound too much like bullshit. The fictional locales are often heavily based on something real too. Always on the lookout for a way to incorporate new internet trends/sites or unpleasant modern phenomena into the cases, although I don't want to alienate people who don't care about the web. My Mum still reads these books.

5. How much of you would you say is crotchety old detective and how much of you is spunky teenage girl?
I am probably more a Hobson than a Choi, due to inevitable demographic similarity (plus I do enjoy a good swear), but they're two sides of my coin overall. One side weighed down by the past, the other determined to keep fighting on. Together, they may even get somewhere.

6. Why is Angelina's last name Choi even though she's adopted?
Because [SPOILER] felt [SPOILER] would [SPOILER] if [SPOILER]. More details in book [SPOILER].

7. What's the most difficult thing about writing the Hobson & Choi books?
The hardest part is threading the comedy-drama needle. As we dive into increasingly dark territory - there's some grim material in Rush Jobs at times - I try to throw in fun moments, but without undercutting the parts I want taken seriously. I cut a few rambling poo jokes from Case Two, as they ruined my insistence that “This means something, dammit!”

8. What's the most fun thing about writing the Hobson & Choi books?
The best bit of writing Hobson & Choi is the way the wider world has taken shape, a strange twenty-first century mafia culture where every business could have a criminal underside. Sitting down for a new H&C case and thinking “Right, what benign institution shall I turn evil today?” is an excellent feeling.

9. How many books do you think are likely to come from Hobson & Choi?
It depends on various things – some of them sales/success related, so if you want more books, do read and tell your friends about the current ones. I know what the beats are, and ideally if everything works naturally, we'd probably go up to book eight or nine. But if need be, I could probably wrap it up in five or six. First 10,000 words of book four already written. 
And yes, I will finish up one way or another. I don't like leaving things undone.

10. Getting to the back-end of things, what do you find to be the most satisfying parts of independent publishing?
The most satisfying part is probably sitting back and admiring the final product, knowing how it all came together from parts. When my final cover came through from the excellent Design For Writers folk (who I know you've also had the pleasure of using), that was definitely a basking moment, as was the arrival of my print proofs and seeing them on sale in my local bookshop.

There's a definite sense of “Yes, I made that whole thing” which I enjoy a lot.

11. What do you find to be the most frustrating parts?
Well, it's the flipside of the last answer, really. Yes, I get to make the entire book, but I'm also solely responsible for getting it to a decent standard, removing all typos, etc. No matter how many proofreading runs you pay for, there's always the potential to make mistakes whilst doing the subsequent edits, and there's no-one to blame but me, ultimately.

12. Which parts of the publishing process do you do yourself and which parts do you hire out to others?
As mentioned above, I got people in to do the cover creation, as I don't pretend to have strong design or image-editing skills. 
I also paid for an editor to look at the text, as I think having someone other than me go over it closely is probably a good idea. I went to London Book Fair and the one thing I got from all the talks on self-publishing was that hiring a real editor is definitely the one big thing you should do. If I do fail, I don't want it to be because I skipped the big obvious thing. 
I did the HTML and print formatting myself though – I work in IT for my day job, so can manage fiddly technical tasks without feeling too beaten down.

13. What other projects do you have on the go and which one are you most excited about at the moment?
My fantasy novel (about deals with the devil and the in-depth T&Cs of same, once again balancing dark comedy and real drama) has just finished an extensive run of rewrites and I'm about to send that out to a few literary agents to see if there's interest. I quite like the idea of being a Hybrid Author, balancing traditional and self-publishing based on the needs of the individual projects, so we'll see how that works out. 
Aside from that, editing Hobson & Choi Case Three for its book debut and starting on Case Four. I also started a fun sci-fi adventure story, but that's progressing slowly due to the many needs of the H&C Media Empire.

14. If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?
Stop trying to do projects which “seem sensible” because you’re scared of/intimidated by trying your actual interests. Yes, there needs to be some awareness of audience and consideration of viability, but once you drive yourself out of your chosen genre and form due to anxious fear, you start to wonder what the hell happened.

15. If you had to choose between eating nothing but guinea pigs for the rest of your life or losing the use of one of your hands what would you choose? Why?
Would these guinea pigs be cooked/prepared in any way? Can the human body digest an unshaven, live guinea pig? Assuming I could eat them without dying, definitely the rodents. I'm not that squeamish about the species of my meat, and I'd rather have a boring diet than a missing hand.

16. Please discuss the merits of flannel shirts and jeans that are too tight.
I'm not a huge fan. The character Will Herrison from the H&C books might disagree. (Follow him now on Twitter: @SadReceptionist.)

17. How do you feel about twerking?
Like it will never affect my life much. Good luck to those who enjoy it, but I am old and my back doesn't bend that way.

18. Is there anyone who you think should NOT read your books?
I try to go broad, but if you're severely turned off by grisly crime moments or creative swearing, I imagine you might find them a challenge.

That concludes our interview with Nick Bryan, but please click here to read an extract from The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf. 

Or click here to buy it on amazon!

In addition, be sure to check out the remainder of his stops on the blog tour:

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