Book Tours: Author Interview The Red Hand of Fury

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing stories since I learnt how to read and write in primary school. Most people grow out of it. I just carried on. I’ve been a published author since 2006, but I was writing seriously before that for decades. I sold some stories to women’s magazines in the UK when I was still a student, so that would have been back in say *coughs in embarrassment* 1980 or 1981. Those were my first paid publications.

What is your favorite genre to write?

I think it must be historical crime, or mystery, seeing as nearly all the books I’ve written are in that genre. I love the idea of working out an intricate plot and then building a rich, textured world for it to come to life in. There’s no doubt that it’s a challenge because there’s so much research involved and then you have to make the imaginative leap to bring it all to life. In some ways you have to put the research to one side, and hope that the important things have soaked into you by osmosis.

Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

My next novel is a dystopian novel set in the future and it’s my first time writing something like that. But that doesn’t really answer your question! Maybe a ghost story, or a contemporary crime novel, or maybe something with a touch of fantasy in it. I like genres where the imagination has free rein. And also I do tend towards the darker edges of the spectrum, I’m afraid.

Please tell us about your book.

The book is a historical mystery called The Red Hand of Fury. It’s set in London in 1914, just on the eve of the First World War. Actually, war breaks out towards the end of the book. A series of sinister deaths occur, apparently suicides, but there are certain things linking the deaths. Silas Quinn is the head of the Special Crimes Department in New Scotland Yard and he sets out to investigate these deaths, but the investigation takes him back into the darkest chapter of his own personal life. I’m trying not to give away any spoilers!

Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

I would have to say Silas Quinn, the main character, because he’s so complex and messed up. I’m also very fond of his two sidekicks, Detective Sergeants Inchball and Macadam. Inchball is very blunt and straight-talking. Macadam is a self-taught expert on all sorts of things. But they are both fiercely loyal to Quinn. My least favourite? I think there are probably quite a few contenders for that honour but there’s a colleague of Quinn’s called DCI Coddington who crops up towards the end of the book. He’s an idiot basically, but he has no self-awareness and thinks he’s really smart.

What was the hardest part about writing your book?

The hardest part of writing any book is just sitting down in front of that computer every day – or every opportunity you have – and making sure you put some words down. Keeping going I suppose. There are times when you think the story’s coming apart, or where you’re not sure you have the skills to do justice to the idea, or where you reach a scene that you know is going to be particular hard to write, because it’s a crucial scene, or one full of emotion and you have to somehow make sure it has energy and comes to life. You don’t know, in advance, how you’re going to do it. But somehow you do.

What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

My only full writing day is Monday, as I have a day job that keeps me busy four days a week. I also try to get some writing done at the weekends, but there are generally other things to do, so I have to fit my writing around whatever else I have to do. (Chores!) On a Monday, I like to be at my desk by no later than 9.00 am with a full pot of black coffee. These days I drink decaffeinated because I was having trouble sleeping, I think because I was drinking too much coffee over the week. On a Monday I will aim to write at least 2,000 words, though I won’t stop at that if it’s going well. 2,500 is a good day. Any more than that is a gift. I work up until 1pm then stop to eat something and listen to the news on the radio. By 2pm I should be back at my desk. No coffee now, but tea. So it’s really just a case of powering through until I’ve reached my target. I find it’s good to break off mid chapter or mid-scene so I have something to come back to the next time, but that doesn’t always happen. At weekends, I just sneak away to my desk and work when I can. We have a room in the house that is my office. It’s pretty messy at the moment – it always gets messy when I’m in the middle of a book, then I tidy it up before I start the next one.

How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

I had a year to write it in. That was my deadline from the publisher but I seem to think it took me a little less than that. I think I delivered about a month or so early.

Can you tell us about your editing process?

Once I’ve finished the first draft I export it to a mobi document that I can read on my kindle. Then I read it through highlighting any passages that I think need reworking or that I can cut. I invariably over-write in the first draft and that cutting process really helps to tighten the story. Then the book goes to my editor. With this one, my commissioning editor was happy with the manuscript as it was – that’s to say she had no structural edits – so she passed it to the copy editor, who marked it up for any line edits or queries that she had. That tends to be a negotiation, because sometimes as a writer you have things which are true to your voice but may not be strictly grammatical. After the copy editor, it’s passed to a proofreader whose job it is is to catch any final snags.

Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?

That’s a good question! I’m writing the next book now, and have story outlines for three more after that. Whether I will end up writing them all, I don’t know.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Keep at it. Perseverance pays off, or it did in my case. I would also say, read widely, and read actively. By that I mean, always have an eye open for what the writer is up to. You can learn from reading bad books as well as good books – or maybe it’s better to say from books that you don’t like as well as ones you do, because then you can work out what didn’t work for you. That’s as important as what does. Develop your own taste. From that will come your own voice – and that’s the thing that publishers are looking for.

Why should everyone read your book?

That’s a difficult question! I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to say everyone should… But if you like twisty, dark, thought-provoking historical noir, then maybe this is the book for you! I think it’s a fascinating period too, the beginning of the twentieth century. In some ways a time of innocence and promise, when there were so many scientific developments and revolutions in art and politics. An exciting time to be alive. But we know with hindsight that there were terrible catastrophes to come. I think that sense of perspective that the reader has may add to the experience of reading it, adding a certain depth and extra darkness.

If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

Fyodor Dostoevsky, although he might not be very happy to meet me as I wrote four novels featuring a character from one of his novels (Porfiry Petrovich from Crime and Punishment); I would like to meet Agatha Christie to ask her where she got to when she disappeared that time and to see what she thinks of all the film and TV adaptations of her books; and HG Wells, who wrote some amazing stories of course, but more importantly I based a character in The Red Hand of Fury very loosely on him, so I would like to see whether I came anywhere close – and also to ask him about the period because it would help enormously with the research for my next book.

What inspired you to write your book?

A fascination with that period of history and with the darker side of human nature.

Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it? As I mentioned above, I’m working on the next in my Silas Quinn series. This one is actually set during the first months of the war. More than that, I cannot say!


The Red Hand of Fury

London, June 1914. A young man is mauled to death at London Zoo after deliberately climbing into the bear pit. Shortly afterwards, another young man leaps to his death from the notorious Suicide Bridge. Two seemingly unconnected deaths – and yet there are similarities.

Following a third attempted suicide, Detective Inspector Silas Quinn knows he must uncover the link between the three men if he is to discover what caused them to take their own lives. The one tangible piece of evidence is a card found in each of the victims’ possession, depicting a crudely-drawn red hand. What does it signify? To find the answers, Quinn must revisit his own dark past. But can he keep his sanity in the process …?


Amazon (UK)

Amazon (US)


Author Bio

R. N. Morris is the author of eight historical crime novels. His first, A Gentle Axe, was published by Faber and Faber in 2007. Set in St Petersburg in the nineteenth century, it features Porfiry Petrovich, the investigating magistrate from Dostoevsky’s great novel, Crime and Punishment. The book was published in many countries, including Russia. He followed that up with A Vengeful Longing, which was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. A Razor Wrapped in Silk came next, followed by The Cleansing Flames, which was nominated for the Ellis Peters Historical Novel Dagger. The Silas Quinn series of novels, set in London in 1914, began with Summon Up The Blood, followed by The Mannequin HouseThe Dark Palace and now The Red Hand of Fury, published on 31 March, 2018.

Taking Comfort is a standalone contemporary novel, written as Roger Morris. He also wrote the libretto to the opera When The Flame Dies, composed by Ed Hughes.



Twitter: @rnmorris

Facebook Page Red Hand of Fury



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