Today I’m pleased to welcome Tim Weaver to the blog. Tim is the author of Chasing the Dead, The Dead Tracks, Vanished, Never Coming Back, What Remains, Fall From Grace and Broken Heart. His latest novel, the 8th to feature David Raker, I Am Missing, is published by Penguin on 27 July 2017.
Tim kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about I Am Missing.
I AM MISSING is about a man called Richard Kite, who wakes up beside a river in Hampshire with no memory of who he is and how he got there. Despite publicity in the press and the best efforts of the police, no one is able to ID him and no one comes forward to say they know who he is. After ten months, he calls David Raker, my series character, who has –– until now –– plied his trade as a very successful locator of missing people. But this person isn’t missing –– it’s his memories that are.
2. What inspired the book?
The story of Benjamin Kyle. He was an American man who woke up outside a Burger King in Georgia in August 2004 with no memory of who he was and where he came from. All he had to fall back on were some very small, seemingly insignificant memories. That interested me, as did the fact that no one came forward for him for a very long time, and the fact that he existed outside of the system. The government wouldn’t issue him with a social security number because he couldn’t prove who he was. I pose the same questions about Richard Kite in I AM MISSING. What would it be like if no one knew you? How could no one know you? What if you weren’t issued a National Insurance number? You couldn’t get a job, a driver’s licence, a passport, you couldn’t even walk into a hospital and get free healthcare –– by any measure, it would absolutely awful.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I never plan anything. I let the books take me where they’re going to take me, and while it’s a stressful and occasionally borderline insane way of working, I find it produces the best surprises –– not least because I’m surprising myself as I’m writing!
4. I Am Missing is book 8 in the David Raker series. Is there anything about the process of creating a novel that still surprises you?
How difficult it can be. No book is easy to write, but I always imagined it would get easier as I went on. If anything, writing has become more challenging the more books I’ve written. I think part of it is to do with the fact that I try to make each novel in the series as different as possible from the last. That takes a lot of effort and thought, especially when combined with a deliberate lack of planning!
5. What do you find are the benefits and downsides to writing a series? Is there any kind of comfort zone in having recurring characters or do you find there is more pressure as readers come to love them?
The benefits are that you’re immediately ‘in the head’ of your protagonist. There’s no getting to know Raker because I already know him so well. That brings with it a level of comfort that you can’t really get off the bat in a standalone. The downside, I suppose, is that –– if you’re not careful –– a series can become repetitive. As I alluded to above, I try to avoid that happening, and in fact make a very conscious effort at the start of every book to avoid as much repetition as possible. But, in a series, readers expect some level of familiarity, so it’s a really hard balance to get right. I hope, and think, I’ve managed to get it right so far, but ultimately it’s not for me to judge. I do love writing a series, though, and missing persons is such a big, complex and interesting area to explore.
6. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I love spending time with my family, I love sport –– football and cricket especially. I’m a big movie fan, a big fan of TV dramas, I love to travel, I love walking (especially big treks up high mountains!) and, of course, I love to read.
7. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Ha ha. I’m not sure I’d want to read any book over and over and over again, but if you’re asking what my favourite book is… well, being a thriller writer, I’d have to pick a thriller, and my absolute favourite thriller is A Simple Plan by Scott Smith.
8. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
I always wanted someone to ask me what my favourite ever TV show was so I could say The Shield. It didn’t get seen by as many people as it should have done back in the mid-2000s, thanks mainly to it being on Channel 5 and them constantly messing around with the schedule and putting it on at different times every week. But it is, without doubt, one of the best detective shows ever made, and I wish more people would see it. Each of its seven seasons keep improving on the last, which is a feat in itself, and its last episode is the best last episode of any TV show ever.
About the book
When a young man wakes up bruised and beaten, with no memory of who he is or where he came from, the press immediately dub him ‘The Lost Man’.
Naming himself Richard Kite, he spends the next ten months desperately trying to find out who he is. But despite media appeals and the efforts of the police, no one knows him.
Richard’s last hope may be private investigator David Raker – a seasoned locator of missing people. But Raker has more questions than answers.
Who is Richard Kite?
Why does no one know him?
And what links him to the body of a woman found beside a London railway line two years ago?
Could Richard be responsible for her death – or is he next?
Read more on the Penguin website.
About the author
Tim Weaver is the Sunday Times bestselling author of the David Raker Missing Persons series. Weaver has been nominated for a National Book Award, selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club, and shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library award, which considers an author’s entire body of work. His seventh novel, Broken Heart, is currently longlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award.
He is also the host and producer of the chart-topping Missing podcast, which features experts in the field discussing missing persons investigations from every angle. A former journalist and magazine editor, he lives near Bath with his wife and daughter.