Indie Author of the Month – Mick Williams

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all doing well. I have not blogged myself for a while due to all the guest posts I was lucky enough to receive for the pandemic collection. More on that another day! I’ve also neglected to highlight any indie authors lately too, but I’m putting that right today with a special interview. Mick Williams is an author I’ve followed for some time on social media and recently I had the pleasure of reading his latest book, Final Clearance. Mick must be the most versatile author I have come across, with romantic comedies, mysteries, action and adventure and more all under his belt. He is well worth checking out for that reason alone. You are sure to find something that appeals to you. Here he tells us all about his new book, (a dark comedy about a serial killer with a heart) his writing process, proudest moments and what to expect from him next! Enjoy!

1. You seem to be a very versatile author – what genres have you written in so far?

I think I’ve covered most of them! Some of my books seem to be a combination of genres, which makes it difficult to categorise, so it’s probably easier to say that I haven’t tackled historical drama, auto-biography or, as my sister would say, witty-woo stories!! Everything else is probably in at least one of my books. Every one of them has a sprinkle of romance, tons of action and humour and a strong female character.

2. Is there any genre you wouldn’t consider trying and if so, why not?

Yep – witty woo. My Mum reads my books and I’d never dare show my face if she read something overly racy in one of them. I think I’m still her little angel. All of my books have at least a sprinkling of romance in them, and some of my characters might get sexy ideas, but I tend to steer away from being graphic with that stuff and let the readers use their imagination. They probably have a much better time that way, anyway.

3. What comes to you first, the characters or the plot?

This has worked both ways (and a few others, too). For A Reason to Grieve, I had the Doris character in mind from the get-go and wanted to work her into the story. She’s still one of my favourite characters. The Old Farts Club is based on a group of men I saw sitting in a fast-food restaurant one morning: a group of military veterans ranging from men well into their sixties, to a forty-something. They had to have a story (Exodus) and have now become their own series! Location is also something that gives me ideas. The forest in Whatever it Takes is here in Kentucky and loads of the scenes in Exodus came from a trip to Jamaica.

4. Do you imagine what audience would like your book before or after you write it?

Honestly, neither! Writing in different genres is probably holding me back, in that I’m not able to promote myself in one particular area, but all of my books have plenty of action, twists, comedy and a touch of romance. I’d like to think that the people that read my books now come to expect that but, truthfully, I write what comes to mind and hope that people like it.

5. Where did the idea for Final Clearance come from?

I got tired of reading ‘write what you know’ and finally considered what I know! I’ve worked and trained in retail and customer service for decades and thought about that. Then, I saw a video of an obnoxious woman berating and insulting a store worker who, fearing for her job, just stood there and took the abuse. Chances are that the same meeting in a bar or a car park would have resulted in the woman getting a bloody nose! Brody takes it a step further (well, a few steps!) but it served to set him up as a conflicted good guy who can’t stand bad guys and resolves to do something about it. Going back to question three, I bought a sofa in a store like Brody’s, and the location for the end of the book is about a mile from where I live.

6. How did you come up with a complex character like Brody Coulson?

Bit by bit! I didn’t want a stereotypical ‘nice guy turned evil’ kind of character. Brody is just a regular man working a job he doesn’t enjoy, whose patience runs out and he impulsively does something bad. To balance his bad deeds, I needed him to be a caring soul too, which is where Javier and Anita come in. I’d like to think we’re all trying to ‘do our part’ for the people around us, and I thought it would be fun to have a character that would do that – only to extremes. How would he justify murder, and how would he go from killing someone to going home to babysit a ten-year old?

7. What is the hardest part of writing a book for you?

Finding the time – I don’t know how you do it! I still work a full-time job and have a family, so it’s a hard balancing act to accommodate everything. The only way I manage it is to create time and write when I can, which is not conducive to continuity!! There are times I have to re-read what I’ve previously written before I can get going again. I also go back and forth between completely outlining a story and just writing to see what happens, and I spend way too much time procrastinating and trying to decide what to do! I think (or at least hope) that I’ve managed to get my stories told either way with some degree of success.

8. What is the easiest part of writing a book?

The Words. Once I manage to sit and write, the words normally come easily. Some days I can hammer out a couple of chapters and actually have them make sense.

9. What methods do you employ to market your books?

Not enough. Marketing is my downfall. Every time I complete another book, I tell myself that this will be the one I promote properly – blog tours, interviews, signings (at least in the ‘old world’), ad campaigns, emails. Then, I sit down and write the next one instead. Book number eight is with my publisher as I type this, and I’ve just released Final Clearance, and it seems as if I’m releasing them into the ether since, if I don’t let people know they’re there, no one is going to read them. It’s a frustrating vicious circle, and the part of this whole writing malarky that I don’t particularly enjoy. I have an author website (www.mickwilliamsauthor.com) which my much more talented son takes care of. I intend to start a blog on it to give readers something new to look at, and I promise I’ll get to it. After this. Or the next thing! I also have a Facebook page (also Mick Williams author) which I don’t interact with anywhere often as I should, and I also have an Instagram page which has the wrong name on it! I’ve given up with Twitter since, in the few months I had it, it got hacked four times.

10. Where do your ideas usually come from?

Everywhere. I have too many ideas and too little time. As I mentioned earlier, a location can be enough to give me an idea, or an overheard conversation. I read Wired magazine and generally get a few ideas out of every one of those. The most unusual event to give me a solid idea was a dream. I once woke at around three in the morning, fresh from a dream, and jotted down almost the entire plot for Callie’s Eyes – I even had her name and her family. If that could happen once every few months, I’d be able to retire and just write!

11. Do you suffer from writer’s block and if so, how do you tackle it?

Not writer’s block, as such, but I do sometimes reach a point in a scene where I’m not sure where to go next. When this happens, I either save my progress so far and attempt a different scene that I can add later or, if the sun is shining, I’ll go for a walk and mull it over. That’s helped me a few times. And back when I was young and healthy, way back, I’ve gone to the gym and done the same thing. It’s weird how stepping aside to do something else will let my mind wander and get me back to where I need to be.

12. Are you inspired by any particular books, films or TV shows?

To my detriment, yes. I’ve watched plenty of TV where something will happen that triggers an idea that I want to write RIGHT NOW, and I have to fight the urge and just make a note that I may get back to in the future (although it never seems to burn as bright by then). Reading books, to me, is writer homework. I love to read, and it’s another time sapping habit that takes away from the writing time. I’ve read Stephen King’s books since I was a teenager, and love all but one of his stories (I tried and tried to get into Delores Claiborne), but I find that, when I sit to write, his voice is still in my head and I end up writing in his style. I don’t realise it until I read back what I’ve written, and it’s glaringly obvious and I have to go back and rewrite it!

13. What are you working on next?

Two things at the moment, both sequels. My best reviewed book is A Reason to Grieve. It was my first story and I love the characters. I didn’t write it with a view to making it a series, but the characters have never left me so I’m about halfway through A Reason to Breathe, which picks up a few months after the first book ended. One of these days, I’m hoping to add a third, A Reason to Leave, to round out the story and give the characters some closure.

I’m also a few thousand words into the next Old Farts Club story. The first, Exodus, was well received and the second, Dark Target, is with my publisher right now awaiting edits. The third will be another stand-alone story with the same group of characters, and I have a vague outline for number four in that series that I keep dipping into. As I said – not enough time!

14. Do you have a favourite character from your books, if so who and why?

I’ve already mentioned Doris from A Reason to Grieve. As much as I love her, I think all the characters in that book are likeable; probably why I’m going back to them. The banter between them still makes me smile.

The same can be said for the guys in The Old Farts Club. I think that, by the time I reach the end of a book, I get to love all my characters. It’s like they’re my children, but I’m sharing them with the world – if that’s not too weird!

Callie from Callie’s Eyes is a lovely person, and I really enjoyed the chemistry between Cory and Ashley in Whatever it Takes. Hope and Charlie from Hope’s Game are two characters that really intrigue me, and that book was left with an open ending that will be revisited in the future. And Paul and Sabrina from A Guy Walks into a Bar also fascinate me, so much so that I have an idea for A Girl Walks into a Bar which will bring them back against some old adversaries. Again, I just enjoy the chemistry they share, it’s infectious and a lot of fun.

And then there are Brody and Javier from Final Clearance – they’re like my new-borns! They’re only a few months old, so they’re still dear to me. That being said, I THINK their story is told. But, you never know.

15. What’s been your proudest writing moment so far?

I’m fortunate to have a few.

Collaborating with my dear friend, Craig Ostrouchow, on a book (Hope’s Game) and releasing something I’m very proud of that did justice to a vision he created.

Winning the Imadjinn Best Thriller Novel award for Exodus- my first award, that sits by my laptop to remind me that I really can do this!

And every time I open the box of a set of new books. The thrill of seeing months of work formed into an actual book that other people can read never gets old.

If my answers have intrigued you, please stop by on Facebook, or at my website http://www.mickwilliamsauthor.com and say hello! If you mention this interview, I’ll be honoured to send you a free e-book version of either A Reason to Grieve or Callie’s Eyes.

For news and incredibly infrequent and non-rambling emails (see above answer on marketing!) sign up on the contact page, it really would be lovely to hear from you.

And thank you, Chantelle, for giving me this opportunity – it’s been fun!

A huge thank you to Mick Williams for agreeing to the interview! His links are below if you are interested in his books and as he mentioned above, if you contact him and mention reading this interview, he’ll send you a free ebook!

https://mickwilliamsauthor.com/index.php/about/

https://www.facebook.com/mickwilliamsauthor/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/13254873.Mick_Williams

Indie Author Of The Month: Val Portelli

Hi everyone – it’s been a while since I highlighted an indie author on The Glorious Outsiders. I blame that on Netflix and not reading enough lately! I’ve also been attempting two reading challenges so often my reading choices have to try and fit with those. Anyway. I recently had the pleasure of beta reading a murder mystery novel by Val Portelli. Val has contributed two pieces to my blog since I started my lockdown themed features, so I jumped at the chance of being an early reader for her new novel Alderslay. I really enjoyed the book and will definitely read more of Val’s work in the future. I invited Val on to the blog to tell us all about the new novel and she has written this piece detailing the things that can go wrong while preparing a self-published book for launch day. If you would like to know more about Val and her work, her links are all at the end! Enjoy.

‘Alderslay’ and book gremlins.

I had my first book, a romantic novel called ‘Changes’ published several years ago. Shortly afterwards I wrote the first draft for a mystery novel called ‘Murder of Changes’ to tie in with the theme.

Fast forward and ‘M of C’ as it was affectionally known, sat on the back burner while I self-published other books, contributed to anthologies, wrote short stories, learnt about marketing, web sites, blogs, editing, formatting and how to defeat gremlins.

At one stage I was in contact with an editor who read the book and gave me valuable feedback which I incorporated into a revised draft. Entering a competition, I was delighted to win the opportunity to have a cover designed, so M of C was dragged off the back burner, submitted to beta readers, and became new and improved as I incorporated their suggestions.

A year passed and I was assured the cover design was in hand and would be available shortly. Numerous emails later, the MD of the design company eventually admitted the communication between himself and his employee, my designated contact, had proved lacking, and it was the first he had heard of it. My carefully composed details and suggestions had never been seen by the design team.

Was it jinxed? Should I forget it and move onto something else, perhaps a follow up for a series on one of one other books? Stubborn? Moi? Let’s just say a challenge is a challenge. I mentioned it to a friend and fellow author who had been instrumental in my other cover designs, and despite having other priorities she sent her dragons charging to the rescue. With all the to-ing and fro-ing, I’m not sure why she hasn’t blocked me, but the end result was a cover I loved. Thank you P.

I love writing but my marketing skills have to be seen to be believed- e.g. non-existent. Nevertheless, I endeavoured this time to try to do it properly, put the book on pre-order, diarised to set up the paperback to coincide with the eBook release, and bit my nails. Amazon nudged me with reminders of a countdown for when my final Kindle version should be uploaded, but I was happy the latest version was good to go.

A few hours before the cut-off time I received feed-back from a blogger who loved it, but pointed out in Chapter X I mentioned ‘A’ but in Chapter Y it’s ‘B.’ Aaagh. Reading for the umpteenth million time she was right. Dilemma. Should I try to change the minor discrepancy which most readers probably wouldn’t notice, or update a revised version which could result in throwing all the page set-up out of line. Being a perfectionist, I had to put it right, which was the signal for the world and his wife to interrupt with things that had been hanging around for months but needed a response NOW!

There was also the problem of the chicken and egg syndrome. Many readers these days use Kindles, but others only read paperbacks and wanted to know if/when this option would be available. Knowing Amazon suggest paperbacks can often take 72 hours to be approved, and hearing from other authors the virus had affected normal timescales, I set up a formula to include probability ratios, US versus UK time zones, and whether there was an R in the month.

With an eBook release date of the 3rd March, I waited until the early hours of the 1st March, UK time to press go for the paperback, before trying to catch up with some sleep. The following, or rather the same day, I opened my emails to discover the paperback was already live, having taken only 4 hours to approve and had beaten the eBook publication by two days. So much for trying to be a clever-clogs.

Beta readers had been advised of the approximate release date, in the hope they would leave a review. That’s when I realised they would they would be looking for the publication of ‘M of C.’

Just when I thought all was going to plan, a reader advised me there was a slight problem with the layout on one small area of the paperback which had already been released. Should I ignore it or try to correct it before more sales were made. No time like the present and again I burned the midnight oil. The amendment itself took two minutes, but then the long wait watching the wheel go round while Amazon went through the whole routine from scratch before I could access the revised preview.

Thankfully, it was again available within a few hours and I breathed a sigh of relief. A zoom meeting with a friend who lives abroad started with her asking what had happened to the paperback. She had tried to order in exactly that short timescale while it was awaiting the revision. Who said being an author only involved putting words on a page?

Despite all the problems, my first fantastic 5* review had me bouncing, and was quickly followed by others.

Is it worth all the stress and hassle if the actual income works out around a thousandth of the hourly minimum wage? Of course not, but the satisfaction of knowing someone actually read and enjoyed your book drives you on to write the next one. Sincere thanks to buyers, readers, bloggers, reviewers and supporters who have helped to keep me sane. A short break before the characters start calling, then here we go again!

Val’s Links

Amazon author page https://author.to/ValPortelli

YouTube ‘Val’s Tales’ http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsmbM57q4SzHbOcx3CPbr1Q/

Facebook ‘Val’s Tales’ http://www.facebook.com/ValsTales

Twitter

@vals_tales https://twitter.com/ValPortelli

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/wwwgoodreadscomVal_Portelli

Blog http://www.Voinks.wordpress.com

Web site http://www.quirkyunicornbooks.wordpress.com

A Song For Bill Robinson is released today!!

It’s been a funny old week. A funny few weeks, maybe even months. Thanks perhaps to the stage of life I have now reached, my emotions are up and down like a yo-yo, with my moods springing from one extreme to the other on a daily basis. Not what I’m talking about today obviously, but, wow, I exhaust myself. Truly.

So, where one minute I am excited beyond belief that I have released yet another book, the next I am down about it for a multitude of reasons. I am writing this on publication day and my mood has dipped low. A few hours ago I was as high as a kite. A few days ago this would have had a very different tone to it.

But I digress…this is really just a very quick post to let you lovely people know that my new YA novel A Song For Bill Robinson is now live. The paperback will follow shortly. Hopefully, so will some reviews!

I would have liked to have done a lot more in the run up to this release, but my moods have really interfered with the whole process. Also, my laptop decided to die, come alive again, die again, and come alive again. I think it’s a bit like me at the moment! Raring to go one moment, completely frazzled the next. A new one is on the cards, but in the meantime I may be slightly hampered with internet type stuff! Tonight it is working just fine! Yesterday, not a peep.

Anyway, the link is below if you fancy getting your teeth into a really gritty YA novel about an unsolved murder, a neighbourhood feud and a teenager singing sensation! The first in a trilogy. See you soon xxx

An Extract From A Song For Bill Robinson

Release day is fast approaching! I am just putting the final touches to everything and double checking everything is okay before I set up the Amazon pre-order link. I hope to have that done in the next few days.

But to keep you entertained, I hope you enjoy this sample chapter from the novel!

12

Bill was lying to both Pete and Summer when he said he knew what he was going to sing on Saturday. He didn’t know, and it was driving him insane. It wasn’t as easy as people imagined. He couldn’t just get up there and sing what he wanted to sing. There was so much more to it than that. There was the audience for one thing. They came expecting entertainment. They didn’t want to be subjected to anything too new, too obscure or too noisy. More than anything, he knew they wanted something to sing along to.

He spent the rest of the week trying to figure it out. He didn’t want to get on the stage and sing karaoke songs like all the others. He wanted to sing. He wanted to perform.

Last time he had been showing off. He’d picked a song from the machine a week in advance, probably the hardest one on there. It was never about emulating the original version. He just listened to the lyrics and thought about what they meant to him. He’d spent hours like that, lying on his bed with the music in his ears and his eyes closed.

He’d mouthed it in silence to begin with, getting to grips with the feel of the words in his mouth. Bill smiled about it now, as he paced his room, picking up records and putting them down again, running through his playlists again and again, thumbing through Spotify and YouTube. What did he want to sing? What did he want to say?

Dog Days Are Over, by Florence and The Machine. He’d picked it because it was shouty and loud. Because he could lose himself in it. Because he liked the words and he thought about Summer when he sang it, and he didn’t even know why, except you had to think about something, someone?

But now? What now?

That had been before. Dog Days Are Over. He’d felt like that…like he could forget about his mother and the horrible aching betrayal of it all, and he could sing anyway. He didn’t sound like her. He didn’t sing or move like her either. He could just be himself and still blow their minds. He could walk around this cesspit with his head held high.

This was after. Now he had to pick a song knowing that the entire estate knew a gang of masked youths had kicked the shit out of him. He had to pick a song after that? And sing it in front of all of them? Including McDonnal? No, it wasn’t easy.

Bill thought about drink warming his belly, fingers of comfort snaking through his veins, bringing him up tall, and what would he sing when he felt like that? Something old and warm and comfortable. He could sing one of his mum’s favourite songs. His voice smooth and silky yet strong and growling when he needed it to be. Something by The Foundations or The Four Tops. The audience would like that. Everyone knew those old soul songs.

He could sing something new he was getting into, but he didn’t know how that would go down. He was into some dark stuff lately which wouldn’t suit the community centre atmosphere. People went there for a good time, or for some company, some support. They went there for hope. He couldn’t take that away from them for the sake of showing off.

Then there was his bloody dad.

They’d always clashed, Bill thought, as he opened the window and felt the cold night air on his cheeks. People said they were too similar; short tempered and impatient, but Bill didn’t buy that. They were nothing alike. He liked to be left alone, whereas Andy craved company. Bill liked to keep his thoughts to himself, but his father liked the sound of his own voice too much. Like now. Bill could hear him downstairs, his voice rising and falling, laughter, punctuated by angry exclamations. He could have been arguing with someone or shouting at the TV or just talking to himself. He could never be still or silent.

His dad was one of those short, angry men, he mused, gazing out of the half open window. He had a chip on his shoulder and a point to prove. He was so annoying most of the time, so over the top, especially lately with all the overprotective crap. He was embarrassing.

But those bastards had made him cry.

Bill didn’t think he would ever forget it. His father leaning over him, touching his hair with tears on his cheeks. It was the first time he had considered what his dad had been through. Until that moment Bill had only viewed the attack through his own eyes. He had not stopped to think about how his father must have felt that night.

And it pissed him off.

Maybe blood was thicker than water after all. Maybe he owed him a good night. He leaned out of the window, pushing it further open. A stroll in the dark was what he needed. A chance to think about it. Something would come to him then. The Clash, maybe. The Buzzcocks. His dad loved all that stuff. A grin pulled at his lips as he pictured himself getting up on the stage to sing something by The Sex Pistols. Then there was Tom Waits. Andy had always been a fan.

Something pulled at his mind then. Guitar intro. Low and dark and thrumming, giving the suggestion that something was about to happen. The drums building up with the guitars. And then when it kicked in it was gentler and sadder than expected. He could have jumped up and down in excitement when it finally came to him. He recalled the first verse, something about flirting with death and not caring about it. And it all fell into place, the rest of the words, and the music that spiralled between the two short choruses. It would be blinding. It was exactly what he wanted to say.

He decided to sneak out anyway. He could find it on his phone and wander around having a quiet sing. Bill turned at the exact second the brick came flying towards his head. He felt it spin past his cheekbone and ducked away instinctively covering his head with his arms. It rolled across the bedroom floor and sat there ominously. He rushed to the window, leaned out and looked around.

‘That all you got?’ he roared without thinking. ‘Come on then!’

He regretted his outburst when his father came pounding up the stairs and into his room. Perhaps Bill could have made up an excuse, if Andy had not stubbed his toe on the brick lying in the middle of the carpet.

‘What the bleeding-hell?’

Bill pulled the window shut and whipped the curtains together. He faced his father and watched him pick up the brick and turn it over in his hands. He held it out to Bill, his eyes bright and accusing.

‘This just come through the window?’ Bill paused, and his father reddened. ‘Eh? Did it?’

‘Looks like it, doesn’t it?’ he responded sulkily, pushing past him.

Andy rushed to the window where he yanked back the curtains and stared out. ‘Just like that?’

‘Yes!’

‘Right, that’s it then,’ Andy stormed from the room, taking the brick with him. ‘I’m calling Collins over.’

Bill followed him from the room. ‘Oh, for God’s sake, what’s the point? I didn’t see anyone!’

Andy stopped and faced him on the stairs. ‘That’s all I ever bloody hear from you! I didn’t see anything, I didn’t see anyone! What are you, bloody blind?’

Andy trotted down the rest of the stairs and picked up the phone. He pointed the brick at his son. ‘I’m not sitting here and taking that!’ he told him. ‘This is our home!’

Bill made a noise of disgust and walked through to the kitchen. ‘Go on then!’ he yelled back over his shoulder. ‘You’re wasting your time!’

Bill stalked around the kitchen, shaking his head and feeling penned in. Minutes later his father stormed into the kitchen and stood in the doorway, hands on hips, legs spread.

‘He’s coming over. You’re gonna sit in here and talk to him.’

Bill threw up his hands. ‘About what?’

‘About everything!’ Andy growled in return. ‘Now, I’m not bloody stupid, Billy-boy. I wasn’t born yesterday! I know there’s something you’re not telling me about all of this. Why is someone targeting you?’

Bill slumped into a chair, folded his arms and shook his head. ‘How do you even know the same person threw the brick? Probably just kids mucking about. You’re gonna look a right dick when Collins turns up!’

‘You’re gonna look like a dick when whatever you’re hiding catches up with you!’

‘What?’

‘I’m not stupid,’ Andy warned him again, his breathing finally slowing down. ‘You’re seriously expecting me to believe you was just minding your own business one night, and a whole gang decided to target you? No. There’s more, and I know it. Sit there! And don’t even think about moving a muscle until Collins gets here!’

Andy spun around and marched back into the lounge, where Bill heard him collapse onto the sofa and swear at the dog. Bill rested his elbows on the table and dropped his head into his hands. Suddenly Saturday night seemed a very long way off. He exhaled frustration through his fingers, then dropped his hands and sat back in the chair. A brief glance at the door, considering escape, but Andy must have been a mind reader too.

‘Don’t even think about it, Billy-boy,’ his voice came from the other room. ‘I’m a lot faster than you right now!’

PC Collins knocked on the door twenty minutes later. He came through to the kitchen, his hat in his hands and his cheeks flushed red from the cold night air.

‘Thanks Andy,’ Bill heard him saying, before he glanced at Bill, and then gestured to a chair. ‘Mind if I sit here?’

Bill sighed, slumping forward again. ‘Look, he’s totally wasting your time. It was just a stupid brick! Could have been anyone!’

Collins flipped open his notebook and started writing. ‘Well,’ he said, sounding weary. ‘The thing is, you might be right, but we have to consider what’s already gone on, don’t we? Now obviously in the eyes of the law, a brick is not much to go on and no damage was done, but we can’t help connect the dots to other things, eh?’

Bill breathed out and in again, willing his frustration to lay low. ‘Connecting dots is just useless though,’ he tried to point out. ‘That won’t stand up in a court of law, will it?’

‘No, course not, but that’s not the point right now.’

‘What is then?’

‘The point is keeping an eye on the situation,’ Collins explained calmly. ‘Making sure things don’t escalate. Your father did the right thing calling me, and he also did the right thing when he called us about the video. Sometimes lots of small parts add up to the whole, you see?’

Bill shook his head and glowered. ‘Not really.’

Collins laughed softly. ‘Well, you will. Okay, so you were in your room? At the window? The window was open?’

‘Yes,’ he growled. ‘Then I turned away and the brick came through. And no, I didn’t see or hear anything or anyone.’

‘Okay,’ sighed Collins. ‘And you’ve not had any altercations with anyone in the last few days?’

Bill thought briefly about punching Logan in the community centre. ‘No.’

‘Okay-‘

‘Look, can I ask you something?’

Collins lowered his notebook. ‘Of course.’

Bill scratched his head, then pushed his hair back from his face and bit his lip. ‘Just saying…I mean, if I thought I knew who attacked me, but I couldn’t prove it? That still wouldn’t help me, would it?’

Collins closed the notebook, folded his hands on the table top and looked at Bill very seriously. ‘If you have any idea who attacked you, Bill, you need to tell me now.’

‘But what I’m saying is, it won’t help, will it? I can’t prove anything.’

‘Well, let’s say you thought you had an idea, it would depend on why. So, let’s say, hypothetically speaking that you did have an idea? Why that person?’

Bill shrugged. ‘Instinct.’

Collins nodded. ‘Nothing else? No recognition? Of shape or form or voice? Stature?’

Bill shook his head. ‘Nothing obvious. Nothing that can be proven in court. That’s what I’m getting at. You need actual proof, don’t you?’

Collins nodded slowly. ‘Yes, you do. But imagine if I had a name? Then depending on who that might be, and what their reputation and record showed up, I might be able to get a warrant to search their home. You see? I might be able to question them, and you know, sometimes that’s all you need, because they don’t have an alibi for that night, or they’ve got some incriminating evidence in their home.’

Bill smiled softly. ‘No one would be that stupid.’

‘You’d be surprised, Bill.’

Bill shook his head. If there had been any evidence, it would have been destroyed that night. And the gang would provide alibis for each other.

‘There were four of them, you say,’ Collins said to him then. Bill nodded. ‘A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.’

‘What does that mean?’

‘It means not all of those four will be as strong as the others. Someone will crack.’

‘They might,’ Bill corrected him. ‘That’s what I’m saying. Might and maybe are no good for me, are they? You can’t promise me anything.’

‘I can protect you.’

Bill laughed out loud. ‘No, you can’t. No one can do that for anyone. Can I ask you something else?’

Collins slipped his notebook into the breast pocket of his uniform. ‘Go for it.’

‘Has there been any progress on the Lewis Matthews murder?’

‘Well, I’m not obviously meant to discuss that case with anyone.’

‘I’m not just anyone. It might affect me. Have they got any idea who it was? Or why?’

Why is the biggest problem,’ Collins sighed, getting up from the chair. ‘Lewis was a nice kid. Worked hard at school and kept himself to himself.’

‘So, why’d someone stab him then?’

Collins shrugged. ‘The only angle we’ve got to go on is his father’s colourful background, but that’s about all I can say about it to you right now, okay?’

Bill nodded, knowing the officer had already said more than he was supposed to. It was enough anyway, he reasoned. Enough for Summer.