The Resident… A Q&A with David Jackson

Hi everyone, continuing my new interview approach, I’m speaking today to David Jackson about his upcoming novel, The Resident. With one week to go until this book is out, I was delighted when David agreed to answer a few questions.

Over to you, David…

1) Where did the idea come from and how did you first begin to flesh it out?

I read many years ago about a woman in Japan who sneaked into someone’s house and hid in his closet. The owner discovered his secret resident only when he set up security cameras to find out why his food kept disappearing. It was one of those things that stuck in my mind as a brilliant seed for a novel. My original idea for THE RESIDENT was to have someone hiding in an attic, who then witnessed a crime taking place in the house below, but I quickly decided that it would be much more interesting to turn that person into a serial killer, and to follow his exploits as he moved through an array of connected attics and played games with the occupants living beneath him.

2) How did you create your main character Thomas? Did you enjoy writing him?

THE RESIDENT is the only book I have written entirely from a single point of view. Usually, I like to ‘head-hop’. That presented its own challenges, but it also had the benefit of allowing me time to explore Thomas’s psyche in much greater depth than I would otherwise. What I hope the reader will find in Thomas is a fully-rounded character who, despite being a serial killer, has a vulnerable side and a tragic past that may even provoke some sympathy for him.

3) The book is different from your Nathan Cody series. What made you decide to tackle the subject you chose?

Each one of my previous books has been part of a series, which has pros and cons. Although a series book gives me a ready-assembled set of characters to play with, it can also be limiting in terms of what I can do with them. And while loyal fans will usually be eager to read the next instalment, there are many who are reluctant to pick up a series book if they haven’t read the ones that came before. THE RESIDENT gave me an opportunity to try something new in the form of a standalone, and to be honest, I found it incredibly liberating. I think I have built upon a strong premise in THE RESIDENT, and I hope that readers will enjoy it at least as much as my earlier books.

4) What was your research process like? Did any of the research surprise you at any point? Did you refer to it during the process of writing?

For my research, I broke into an abandoned house and I spent a long time living in my attic. Believe it or not, both of those things are true. The trespass into a derelict property happened when I was very young, and perhaps the less said about that the better. And when I say I’ve spent many hours in my attic, that’s only because we have a loft conversion which is now my study. Aside from that, not much research was required. Oh, except for finding out about the decomposition of corpses. . .

5) How does your writing process for the Nathan Cody series differ from the writing process for The Resident?

It doesn’t, really. I plan it out, I write it from start to finish, one draft, and then I send it to my editor – who promptly rips it apart and sends it back.

6) Lastly, do you use Scrivener or MS Word? Which do you prefer and why?

I’ve heard good things about Scrivener, but I’ve never tried it. I use Word for the actual writing, but at the planning stage I’ll use Notes for my initial musings and then PowerPoint to lay out a storyboard.

Thank you for your time David, and for stopping by the blog to discuss your upcoming novel. The Resident will be released on Thursday 16th July.

Bio: David Jackson’s debut novel, Pariah, was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Awards. He has written a string of internationally published crime thrillers since then, including the bestseller Cry Baby, nominated by Amazon as one of their Best Books of the Year. The Guardian newspaper said of his work: ‘Recalls Harlan Coben – though for my money Jackson is the better writer’. When not murdering fictional people, David spends his time as a university lecturer or giving writing workshops. He lives on the Wirral with his family and a cat called Mr Tumnus.

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