Thursday, September 26, 2013

Interview: Luke Preston (author of OUT OF EXILE)

Luke spent most of his twenties as a freelance writer, a private investigator and listening to rock 'n roll. He drinks heavily on occasion, is a half decent musician and his idea of a good time involves a jukebox designed to bleed ears.

Luke's work has been recognised by The Inside Film Awards, MTV and The ATOM Awards. He writes in cafes, bars and in parking lots on the back of old fuel receipts and cigarette packs. He doesn't believe in writers block or in the magic bullet theory and his favourite album is Exile on Main Street.

Luke's writing is as much influenced by AC/DC and Johnny Cash as it is by Richard Stark and Raymond Chandler. He is undertaking a Master of Screenwriting at the Victorian College of the Arts and has absolutely no intention of moving to a shack in the middle of nowhere. He likes bad traffic, noisy neighbours, cheap beer, loud bars and has been occasionally known to howl at the moon.

Luke is the author of DARK CITY BLUE and the explosive follow-up OUT OF EXILE (links to my reviews can be found at the end of the interview). Luke was kind enough to drop by and answer a few questions about the new book and series protagonist, Bishop. 

(Josh) OUT OF EXILE's multi-layered criminal plotting went against the grain. The focus in constant shift to keep the reader guessing the motives of the bad guys. What books/events did you draw upon for inspiration?

(Luke) When I first set out to write the Tom Bishop books, I wanted to tell a story that punched the reader in the face on page one and kept them on their toes for the following two hundred and fifty. For inspiration, I started each and every writing day blasting Rage Against the Machine's Killing in the Name of, read the books of Richard Stark and played a bunch of fast paced games such as Call of Duty and Max Payne.

Tom Bishop is a well defined protagonist who has a dark side, painful past and dim future. What's it like to write a character, have a connection with him, only to then put him through the ringer?

Characters exist to be put through hell... and hopefully make it out the other side better for it. OUT OF EXILE is a story about redemption and hope. Tom Bishop does bad things but is desperate to prove he is still a good man. Every single violent, distasteful and just downright mean thing that happens to Bishop, in a strange way is for his own good. It forces him to evolve... Also, I think Bishop likes it a little bit in hell.

Noir and crime go hand in hand. A tainted protagonist with questionable motives stuck in an almost unwinnable predicament. Those elements are paramount throughout your first two novels. Is this something you focused on when writing Bishop or did it just evolve?

I find it difficult to write anything without first knowing what I am writing. I envy writers who one day can sit down at the typer, write a sentence and see where the story takes them. That approach doesn't work for me. Every single story strand, character arc, turn-around as well as the overall thematic question is predetermined way before I write page one. I generally know who my hero is, what predicament they are in, what they want, what stands in their way and what happens if they don't get it. That may all sound like a lot and in a way it is, but it's also nothing more than can be written on a single A4 page or on the back of a couple of cocktail napkins (depending on where you are).

DARK CITY BLUE was the first book to feature Bishop and Justice, for readers not familiar with it, can you pimp the plot?

A fistful of people are murdered, fifteen million dollars is stolen and detective Tom Bishop is stuck in the middle. When he hits the street, every clue points in the same crooked direction; his fellow colleagues in a police department. Hunted, alone and with no place left to turn, Bishop embarks on a hellish journey down into the gutters where right and wrong quickly become twisted and problems are solved with gunfire and bloodshed.

Over the next two days, Tom Bishop will be cornered. He will be beaten. He will bust into prisons. He will shoot at police. He will team up with violent criminals. He will become one of them. He will break every rule in the book, chasing a lead nobody else will go near down a rabbit hole of corruption, murder and buried secrets.

Will Bishop become the very monster he set out to destroy?

A modern hard-boiled tale that unfolds at a relentless pace, DARK CITY BLUE is SERPICO, if SERPICO snorted a fist full of cocaine and hung out with Lee Marvin.

If you were to cast Tom Bishop in film - who would be your ideal actor to play him? (I picture Bruce Willis - a Die Hard type of character)

I love Die Hard. It's one of my favourite movie to drink beer to. As well as an author, I am also a screenwriter. There is a screenplay of DARK CITY BLUE that has been doing the rounds over the past year or two and in that time many names have been thrown around to play to role of Tom Bishop. From Guy Pierce, Gary Sweet, Eric Bana and even to Steven Seagal. They're all fine actors, well, almost all. But I've been around long enough to know that a film can get up in a variety of ways with a variety of budgets. I'd love to see DARK CITY BLUE made on a shoestring budget with a kick in the doors, ask questions later type of attitude with an actor like Sullivan Stapleton or Jason Clarke in the lead.

As for OUT OF EXILE, the story is so big that I doubt that it could ever be adaptable for the screen. If anyone has the guts to try, I'd be very interested to see the result.

Lastly, what can readers expect to read from you in the future (more Bishop)?

I'm working on a couple of screenplays over the next couple of months and as soon as I have a three or four week gap, I will unleash another Bishop rampage.


- My review of OUT OF EXILE

- My review of DARK CITY BLUE

- Luke's website

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