Trevor Holman is English, having been born in Charlton, South London where he was both raised and educated. Trevor worked principally in London for many years, firstly as a professional musician, mostly based in recording studios, and then needing a change of direction Trevor joined a London advertising agency. Liking the industry and working his way up, Trevor finally spent several years as an account director, looking after several blue chip companies in one of London’s top advertising agencies. After meeting his future wife, Frances, Trevor then moved to Norfolk where he set up his own advertising agency with a business partner. After many years of working in advertising he then reverted back to his first love – music, building his own recording studio in Norfolk. Now, Trevor is retired from the music industry, and he is concentrating full time on his writing career. Trevor is currently working on a series of novels known as ‘The Algarve Crime Thrillers’ plus several other one-off books and novels. He talked with me about his novels and writing career.
Source: Trevor Holman
BTG: When and how did you start writing?
About three years ago I decided to retire from what I’d been doing most of my life, which was working in the music industry in various forms, but I still needed to keep my brain active. There is a saying that ‘everyone has a book in them’ and I’d been thinking of writing the same book for nearly twenty years, but had never actually done anything about it.
Having officially ‘retired’ I now had the time, and so I wrote my first novel which is set during the Second World War entitled ‘The Fourth Richest Man in the World.’ Unfortunately, the book ended up being over 155,000 words and it took me nearly a year to write. Too big for a first novel, and too long for a new author. So I decided to try and think of something easier and quicker for me to write, and lighter for any potential readers. I’d always enjoyed reading crime thrillers, and I thought I would try my hand at writing one myself. It ended up becoming the first of the ‘Algarve Crime Thrillers’ and I completed the first one in just eight weeks. The key was the title.
I’d always liked ‘Alliteration’, and I hit upon a formula which I am still using. All my books in the ‘Algarve Crime Thriller’ series are about the adventures of two Algarve based amateur sleuths, and they end up travelling the world helping various police forces and Interpol solve major crimes. All the books have three word titles, the first word always being ‘The’. The second world is always a town, a city, a location etc, and the third word is always a type of crime, but starting with the same letter. Titles in the series already with the publisher include ‘The Mijas Murderer’, ‘The Faro Forger’, ‘The Salzburg Suicides’ and I am currently putting the finishing touches to ‘The Cairo Conspiracy’. The title tells me two things, where the book is going to be set, and what type of crime I am going to be writing about. Each book travels the world, and I only try to include countries and locations I’ve learnt about from personally going there. So far, that is 58 different countries worldwide. Needless to say, my wife and I love travel.
BTG: Did your career in advertising shape you as a writer?
Not really. I guess the main thing that shaped my writing ‘style’ if I have such a thing, was that for the seven years prior to ‘retiring’ I worked with another man here in the Algarve who was a lyricist, and during the space of seven years, we wrote four complete stage musicals. I wrote all the music, he wrote all the lyrics, and we wrote the scripts or stage plays together. One thing I learnt fairly early on about writing books is that if you don’t describe what’s in your head, then the readers can’t see it. It’s not like writing a play, a musical, a TV programme, a film or anything visual, you have to create the visuals with your words, and I think I learnt that through writing stage musicals.
The great danger I feel as a writer is not to overdo it and go on and on about the description of something for two or three pages. Do that and you’ve lost your reader. So my motto is to be thorough, but keep it simple.
Source: Trevor Holman
BTG: And what about your first love, music? Did it have an influence on your writing?
I think I’ve more or less answered that in the previous question, but yes, of course. Music has played such a massive part in my life that I guess it plays a part in everything I do.
Music has rhythm and tempo, and I try to have rhythm and tempo in my writing. If I’m writing in a different rhythm or at a different tempo in every chapter, then the reader will get confused, so I try to keep the same style, rhythm, and tempo throughout a novel. Of course, the feel changes from novel to novel as the main characters develop and the readers get to know more about them.
BTG: What can you tell us about your novels?
I am currently finishing book four in the ‘Algarve Crime Thriller Series’, and I have two ‘stand-alone’ novels now with the publishers as well. ‘The Fourth Richest Man in the World’ which I mentioned earlier, and a new novel, ‘The JFK Report’ which offers a new, and I believe so far unmentioned twist on the assassination of President Kennedy way back in November 1963. Details can again be found on the website.
One thing I do get involved with that I believe is slightly unusual for most authors, is that I design all the cover artwork for each book myself. Working in advertising for as long as I did, and working day by day alongside graphic artists, I picked up a lot, and I know what I like. I know I can be a bit of a nightmare to work with as I have a very slight case of OCD, and that means if something isn’t exactly right, I will say something. So I supply the original cover artwork to the publishers, and they make it look just right, send me proofs. They do a great job and I’m very pleased with the finished product.
BTG: Where do you find an inspiration for your stories?
Let me give you an example. My wife Frances and I have recently returned from a cruise in Alaska. Every evening we shared a dining table with the same six people, three couples. The same question was asked by one of our fellow diners, and I answered by saying that for example I could write a new book in the ‘Algarve Crime Thriller’ series set on an Alaska cruise ship, which for example could be called ‘The Klondike Killer’. The idea was simple, we’d been in the Klondike area of Alaska all day, and following the alliteration idea, the type of crime had to begin with K !! As I said earlier, using this formula for titles, the plots almost write themselves.
I would simply replace Frances and myself with my two amateur sleuths, and to make it interesting, one of our fellow diners would be the killer. If you look at the website you will see that the basic outline is already there.
I also like to come up with a preposterous idea, and then see if I can make it work. The idea for ‘The JFK Report’ came about this way when answering a question in a Q & A session at the end of a talk I was giving in Spain. I won’t give you any more details as it will spoil the plot, but ideas can come at any time and in any place, which is why my mobile is full of crazy ideas, possible plots, etc, etc. I guess I should also mention that while I lived in the UK, I served in court as a magistrate or Justice of the Peace, and I heard so many crime stories over the years, I guess one or two of those have also crept in.
BTG: And for the end, what can you tell us about ‘The Mijas Murderer’
Mijas is a small ‘white village’ perched on a hill just outside Marbella on the southern coast of Spain. I have visited Mijas several times, and for my plot to work, I needed a location that was within a reasonably easy driving distance from the Algarve. The basic plot is as follows :
‘Michael Turner, a successful young crime writer living in the Algarve on the southern coast of Portugal, discovers his friend has been brutally murdered, and Michael suddenly finds himself being asked to solve a real life murder. He recruits his best friend, Doctor Samantha Clark, an ex-police surgeon, and working with Interpol and both the British and Portuguese police, they go undercover and set about solving what becomes a complex case, taking them from Portugal to the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, South Africa and the Bahamas.’