I hope you're enjoying the series - we're really building up a great list of participants thusfar, and there are plenty more to come, with 9mm interviews with the likes of Michael Koryta, Mark Gimenez, Mark Billingham, and PD James all completed and scheduled for publication in the coming days and weeks, and other great authors on the near horizon too. Please let me know if you have a particular favourite author or authors whom you'd really like to see interviewed in this way, and I'll do my very best to get in touch with them.
Today, for the 20th in this regular series of quickfire author interviews I fired the 9mm questions at Roy Vaughan, a former officer in the British and New Zealand Merchant Navies, and journalist for the New Zealand Herald (amongst other roles), who in his 'retirement' has now started a series of thriller novels. The first, THE MERELEIGH RECORD CLUB TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND, was published in hardcover late last year (launched in New Zealand earlier this year), and Vaughn has already completed the second, which will hopefully be released in the coming months (along with a paperback version of the first in the series).
The 'blurb' for THE MERELEIGH RECORD CLUB TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND says:
"Tour guide and owner of a New Zealand travel company, Rick Foster, pulls together a group of old friends from their rock-n-roll days of the 60s. Known as the Mereleigh Record Club, these 60-somethings meet to reminiscent and hopefully, in Foster's case, rekindle an old romance as well. Foster envisions he and his old mates partying from Auckland to the South Island. What he doesn't bargain for is he and his group becoming unwilling targets of an international and very dangerous drug smuggling gang.
A senior customs agent and detective decide to use the group to set up a sting, and things get more out of hand-lives are threatened and deep-seated friendships are put to the test. Foster is in the precarious position of cooperating with the police and protecting his friends. As the drama escalates, strange relationships develop between the good guys and the bad guys and Foster doesn't know whom he can trust. Will Foster and the authorities be able to pull off the biggest sting of their careers with no one getting hurt?"
THE MERELEIGH RECORD CLUB TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND was published by a small New York-based publisher, and is available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and Book Depository. You can read a short article in Northern Matters about the book launch in Mangawhai earlier this year, here. But for now, Roy Vaughn stares down the barrel of 9mm...
Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
This is really hard I don't have one that comes to mind. I tend to like ordinary guys who under pressure step up to the plate and do the right thing and thrillers that put ordinary people on the spot to see how they react. I don't believe heros are born they are just people who have the guts to do the right thing at the right time.
What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island - a thrill a minute read with well portrayed characters and a realistic plot that kept you guessing and heaps of atmosphere.
Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
Newpaper features - you could say I had 20 years turning in non fiction newspaper stories so after the discipline and regimentation of writing news copy it was pure intellectual liberation to turn to fiction. I have also written a non fiction history of British and New Zealand merchant shipping history (It needs editing and a publisher!), which covers the development both of non-naval shipping, the role ships played in the creation of the British empire, and a lot of references to the New Zealand maritime scene. It's a book I felt I had to write having been at sea for eight years and covered shipping for a further 20 years.
Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
Sailing - I have a small yacht - and international relations at a grass roots level. I played a role for a number of years in Japan helping set up a sister city relationship between Auckland and Fukuoka, and was heavily involved with Pacific Island media issues while employed by the South Pacific Forum at Suva, Fiji. I also enjoy country walks, genealogy, good books, and music.
I turn to music a lot for relaxation, reassurance and intellectual stimulation, and love music of all kinds from Rock to Classical including good traditional folk music and country and western ballads. I also have an active involvement with the Mangawhai Harbour restoration society, the Mangawhai historic Society and the NZ Fairy Tern trust. I come from a tiny village in rural mid Wales and living at Mangawhai is socially very similar. you get to know everyone people are generally very polite as there is no where to hide and the only way things get done is if a few people volunteer to do it themselves. It was a pleasure to make Mangawhai the termination point of my first book.
What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
At Mangawhai a harbour estuary walk for the Sandspit to see the towering Maori Shell Middens and an almost unbroken pristine coastline to Cape Rodney with magnificent views of the Hen and Chickens, Little Barrier and Great Barrier [all islands, for those not from NZ] in the distance.
The view is worth a million dollars, and the human effort in eating millions of pipis to create such massive shell middens is truly astounding. Makes you ask where did all the Maori go? There are plenty of other things, like the surf beach, the golf course and cliff top walks to the north, but the best things, the views are free.
If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
Clint Eastwood, or maybe Robert Redford or Antony Hopkins
Of your books, which is your favourite, and why?
It was a great thrill writing The Mereleigh Record Club Tour of New Zealand but I think I have put more into The Mereleigh Record Club of Japan, and gained slightly more satisfaction in writing it. The non fiction yet to be published nautical history was harder to write and involved a lot of research but was not as fun to write as it had to be 100 per cent accurate in detail.
What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a bookseller’s shelf?
I was of course very happy to get the book published, but have enough experience of life it was only a first step. The decision to write was mainly based on doing it for its own sake, if you like to get something out of my system, and if it works commercialy fine, if not I will continue to write anyway. Its a need that I must satisfy.
What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
One or two old friends in Britain believing themselves to be fictiious characters when clearly the characters they identified with had little in common with them. I had a good book launch at Bennett's chocolateria Mangawhai with many kind and indulgent folk present, and a small friendly pub launch with old mates of my teenage years at Marlow on Thames. The old British mates spent a lot of time trying to work out which characters in the book were them. One old pal reckoned he was the hero on the Vespa motor scooter in the yarn, and insisted on playing a lead role if anyone made a movie out of it. Another had to tell his wife he was not one of the gang who used to take his trousers off a lot when the girls were around. They are all invented characters, in the book.
Thank you Roy Vaughn. We appreciate you taking the time to talk with Crime Watch.
So what do you think of this 9mm interview? How does a road-trip thriller starring a bunch of middle-aged/elderly guys, wrapped up with some drug deals gone wrong and plenty of adventure, sound? Do you like trying books from unknown authors? Thoughts and comments welcome.