Monday, May 5, 2014

PUYB Virtual Book Club: Q&A with Colin Falconer, author of 'Naked in Havana'

Colin Falconer was born in North London, and spent most of his formative years at school playing football or looking out of the window wishing he was somewhere else.
After failing to make the grade as a professional football player, he spent much of his early years traveling, hitch-hiking around Europe and North Africa and then heading to Asia.
His experiences in Bangkok and India later inspired his thriller VENOM, which became a debut bestseller in the UK and his adventures in the jungles of the Golden Triangle of Burma and Laos were also filed away for later, the basis of his OPIUM series about the underworld drug trade.
He later moved to Australia and worked in advertising, before moving to Sydney where he freelanced for most of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines, as well as working in radio and television.
He has over 40 books in print. HAREM was an enormous bestseller in Germany and THE NAKED HUSBAND was only kept out of the number one spot in Australia by Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. AZTEC stayed on the bestseller lists in Mexico for four months. He is a bestseller in Europe and his work has sold into translation in 23 countries around the world.
He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz. He also completed a nine hundred kilometre walk of the camino in Spain.
He did not write for over five years following personal tragedy but returned to publishing in 2010 with the release of SILK ROAD and then STIGMATA. His historical novel ISABELLA was an Amazon bestseller last year.
His likens his fiction most closely to Wilbur Smith and Ken Follett – books with romance and high adventure, drawn from many periods of history.
His latest book is the romantic suspense, Naked in Havana.
Visit his website at

Thanks for joining us at the book club, Colin!  What can you tell us about yourself that probably no one else knows?

Colin:  I don't think there's much that no one knows. I wrote one autobiographical non fiction book with a friend of mine called Elizabeth Best - the book was called THE YEAR
WE SEIZED THE DAY - and it's about as candid as it gets. It got into the top 100 on Amazon paid this year and I shudder when I think how many people have read it!

So when did the writing bug bite?

Colin: My mother used to say I came out holding a copy of Orson Scott Card's Elements of Fiction Writing in one hand and a dictaphone in the other. I've been writing most of my life: I started in advertising, then went to journalism, then became a full time novelist about twenty five years ago. I just always knew it was what I was meant to do.

Titles of books intrigue readers.  How do authors come up with such fantastic titles?  How did you come up with yours?

Colin: It was the first line of the novel: "There I was naked. In Havana." As soon as I wrote it, it just jumped out at me.

Naked in Havana is a romantic suspense.  How did you gravitate toward that genre?

Colin: I always write the same genre, really. But if it's pre-1900, people call it historical fiction and if it's post-1900, it's called romantic suspense! Weird. But I write big canvas stories with strong women, driven men, big themes, romance and a lot of action. It's what I like to read and it's what I like to write.

They say that all novels have a pivotal point in their book where the reader just can’t put the book down.  What do you think is one of your pivotal points?

Colin: I always try to make that the first page, by making the characters and the situation they are in as intriguing as possible. Those first pages are vital and I spend on a lot of time on them. Readers have told me though that when Reyes meets Magdalena in the third scene, they know sparks are going to fly, so it's impossible to put the book down from there anyway. I like to think so.

Is there another genre you’d like to write or are you going to continue with more romantic suspense novels? 

Colin:  I have just finished a contemporary suspense novel - The Black Witch of Mexico. It was based on something that happened to me, an idea I just couldn't set aside. (I was sitting across from a black witch deep in Mexico's back country and he said to me: 'Tell me what you want, and I'll give it to you.' I wondered what might have happened if I'd told him. There's my story.) I don't plan to write many more in that genre. 

What’s your idea of a fun Saturday night?

Colin: Drugs. Bourbon. Loud music. Bad women. What's not to love?

A man walks into a saloon.  There’s a barmaid propped against the bar reading your book.  What does he say to her?

Colin: Can I have two bourbon and cokes with ice please.

You have been invited to a luncheon where you are supposed to talk about the publishing industry.  How would you begin your speech?

Colin: I'd probably start off with a joke, something to set the tone. Like: How many publishers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Three. One to screw it in and two to hold down the author.

Thanks for stopping by, Colin.  Is there anything you’d like to tell your fans?

Colin: Please stop by The site gets updated every 3-4 days so there's always something going on. Or you can join my newsletter and get the chance to win free books every month. And don't feel shy about contacting me, I'm about one of the most accessible authors going.

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