Saturday Night Drinks with … Phil Johnson

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A day late due to unforeseen circumstances, but tonight I am delighted to welcome to the blog for a drink and a chat, author… Phil Johnson.

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Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thank you for inviting me! I’m having a small red Boutari, it’s a local Greek wine, as I’m in the Aegean at the moment, researching a sequel to my second novel Run to the Bluewhich my publishers may be interested in. It’s set here in Greece and there’s no substitute for being “on location” to capture atmosphere and flavour.

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If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

If you were able to be whisked away to Greece, then any number of little bars and tavernas overlooking the brightest sea, with the most beautiful smells of wild thyme and bougainvillea, and the sounds of cicadas and a little chilled Ibiza drifting across from the bar. If not, then Norwich, close to where I live.  

If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Helena Bonham Carter! I always imagine her playing Betzy Blac, one of the central characters in Killer in the Crowd. A great actor. And, being a fan of romantic films, Hugh Grant. Secret confession, but Music and Lyrics is one of my favourites. I’m a sucker for romantic endings! I’ve a perfect role for him in my next book too, if it were ever to hit the screen – hey I can dream!

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I suppose I evolved into writing fiction from being a radio and TV reporter and broadcaster. I love telling stories, whether for news or in documentaries. I always wanted to write fiction to entertain, excite and make people smile. My stories are for lonely nights, beautiful days, beachside bars, and poolsides. I want to take people on a roller coaster of adventure, knowing that however bad it looks, my women will always beat overwhelming odds and win through in the end. Often finding love on the way. As I say, although crime, mystery is the driver for my stories, I’m a romantic at heart. 

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge? 

The biggest challenge was not realizing how much re writing and editing was needed to finally make my stories ready for the world. Proudest moment, was actually holding a copy of Killer in the Crowd and thanking my wife Fi, for putting up with my 10 hours a day writing schedule and the loud music coming from my little room! Also having a wonderful reviewer/blogger give the book “A Million Stars!”

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I’m sure every writer says this but, to get a film/TV deal. It’s not the money I’m chasing, I want to see the stories come to life on screen because I think they would entertain. Having had a successful career in TV, my books are, I feel, very visual.   

What are have planned that you are really excited about?

My second novel, Run to the Blue – Tess Anderson is a top TV reporter and she’s running for her life! Her husband’s affair with a cabinet minister is all over the press and a London crime boss wants her dead. Running to the Greek islands, she’s rescued by a handsome, mysterious American yachtsman. But who is he, and who can Tess trust as her enemies close in?

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

My favourite place is here in Greece. Too many wonderful locations to pick just one, but Lakka on Paxos, Naoussa on Paros and Milos stand out. My bucket list? To live long enough to see a world where all women and girls are safe and respected.  

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Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

I once got lost with a guest star when I worked on BBC Breakfast Time. On my first day as an Associate Producer, I took Brian Blessed up to the attic because I forgot where the studio was! 

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Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

My favourite book is still One Day by David Nicholls, but I wish he’s re write the ending! However, I’d love you to read Run to the Blue my second novel due out this summer. It’ll whisk you over here to Greece – Paxos and Corfu, and take you to some secret bays where my protagonist Tess will find out, it’s easy to fall in love despite the danger.

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Twenty years, two people, ONE DAY. The multi-million copy bestseller that captures the experiences of a generation.

‘I can imagine you at forty,’ she said, a hint of malice in her voice. ‘I can picture it right now.’

He smiled without opening his eyes. ‘Go on then.’

15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways.

So where will they be on this one day next year?

And the year after that? And every year that follows?

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Not to drink too much! However nice it is, and this Boutari, well, easy to have another, but I mustn’t!

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

A walk along a quiet beach. Listening to music. Time with family and friends. Reflecting on the past but always looking ahead.  

Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening, Phil, although I wish I was in Greece doing this in person!

Phil’s book, Killer in the Crowd, is out now in ebook and paperback formats and you can buy a copy here.

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Imagine being an ordinary teacher with an unexciting life, except you have a secret – your mum was an outrageous punk star loved by millions, who vanished when you were just seven years old. You always wondered what happened to her, was she dead or somehow still alive? Then, the man you believed to be your father, a fading old rock star, is murdered, and his death linked to your mum’s disappearance.

Suddenly, the press announce you apparently have a brother – an international American superstar, a man who turns your life and your emotions upside down. Determined to find the truth, you lead your mum’s old band on tour. Four aging women former punks, rekindling their youth to help you succeed. You play your mum’s part as the singer, to elicit stories from fans to find out what really happened to her, wherever it takes you and whatever the cost. It’s a gig you just can’t miss!

As a TV Newsreader, Reporter and Producer for both BBC East and ITV Anglia, Phil Johnson covered everything from tracking down criminals in Spain and going on high-octane police chases, to interviewing pop stars, politicians and celebrities. P N Johnson was also the face and voice of Crimestoppers in the eastern region for many years and created the successful TV series: “999 Frontline”. Now living near Norwich, P N Johnson loves music, travelling, walking, and sailing, and bringing exciting new characters with amazing stories to the page.

Connect with Phil:

Twitter: @PhilJohnson01

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