Andrew Goldspink was born in Essex in the year 1987 and spent his early years growing up in Hertfordshire. He pursued higher education at Keele University where he specialized in English and American Literatures. His writing journey began as early as fourteen when he started penning down lyrics for bands and later transitioned to poetry. At the young age of eighteen, Andy had already authored his first novel. His writing style has been influenced by several notable names in the literary world such as Paula Hawkins, Lydia Davis, David Lynch, Thomas Harris and Gillian Flynn. He favours fiction that is daringly stylish and yet grounded in reality, featuring well-crafted set pieces and complex characters that have a certain air of mystery around them. Presently, Andy resides in Liverpool with his spouse and their two feline companions.
Let’s get started with a quick rapid fire.
Q1. If you could be transformed into one mythological creature, which one would you choose?
Q2. What time do you usually go to bed at night?
Usually midnight or thereabouts. (Whenever the cats demand.)
Q3. What are the least-likely three words someone would use to describe you?
Gregarious, loud, cruel.
Q4. Where did you go on your last vacation?
Q5. Would you rather find your dream job or win the lottery? You can’t do both.
Win the lottery, invest, pursue my creative dreams.
Q6. What is one thing you regret spending money on?
Q7. What object do you misplace or lose the most?
Q8. If you were a spy, what would be your codename?
002 (Number 2).
Q9. What secret about the universe would you most want to learn?
The meaning of life! (If there is one.)
Q10. What never fails to make you laugh?
Our kitten Guinness.
Q11. What was one “before” and “after” in your life?
Before meeting my partner and after.
Q12. What do you think people misunderstand about you?
That I am quiet because I don’t like them. It’s just comfortable for me.
It’s time for a more detailed conversation, Andrew.
You’ve answered our rapid fire so well, Andrew. Now, it’s time for our readers to know more about the person behind the book.
Q. Tell us about your journey.
I’ve had a lucky life so far, much more than most. I have a wonderful family and friends. Normal suburban upbringing close to London with all the usual adolescent adventures, a period of depression after university, followed by meeting my partner and moving to Liverpool – a newer and much brighter chapter. In terms of writing, the first serious work of literature I read (other than Goosebumps!) was George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, when I was twelve. It made a big impression. Back then I read a lot of Bret Easton Ellis, Raymond Carver and experimental literature. I was very interested in minimalist literary writing, now I’m more excited about the possibilities of crime fiction. I hope to bring something unexpected to the genre.
Q. So, what books have you read more than once in your life?
One of the authors I was most obsessed with was Paul Auster. I studied a detective fiction module at university, we read his New York Trilogy and I was hooked. I love his intense, mysterious, semiotic style. My favourite is possibly Moon Palace. I read it on Christmas Day in a state of pure joy, and then went downstairs and had my Christmas Dinner.
Q. Interesting. Who has been the biggest supporter of your writing?
Firstly my girlfriend. Without her One Last Look would not have been finished to the standard it has. She’s my best editor, and we often devise plots together. (Usually at the pub!) My Nana has also been very encouraging and supporting, as have my immediate family who helped with reading and early drafts.
Q. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I do. There are recurring motifs and metaphorical symbols you can find throughout. There is a lot buried in Kate’s dreams.
Q. Now comes the most anticipated question that every author must answer. How do you process and deal with negative book reviews?
To be honest, I’d rather get a mixture of five and two star reviews than three stars from everyone. I want the books to be as good as possible and appeal to as wide a readership as possible, but they do contain grapic detail and violence. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Q. What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?
Characters first usually, but sometimes setting. Then, inevitably, characters grow out of the plot as you go. I’m very interested in voice and representing a panorama of voices. Another important influence has been the Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño, who also does this. After working in third person for ten years or so I’m now loving writing in first person for the Kate Bastille books. You can be so much more colloquial and real, which ultimately better serves the plot.
Q. How do you develop your plot and characters?
In terms of outlining I spend four months researching and creating a numbered structure of around forty plot points, then flesh out the details of each chapter, inserting research and images. I write character descriptions and include character details as they occur to me within the scenes. I draw mostly from my own experiences for characterisation and setting but often model the forensic detail on real-life cases drawn from newspapers or documentaries.
Q. You got 100 points. You need to divide them on the basis of how relevant and important they are to you as a reader and a writer for your book or someone else’s as a reader. Your options are Plot/Story, Book Cover, Marketing, and, Reviews.
All things are equally important to me. I find dialogue really draws me into a story. The diction and cadence of characters’ voices can tell so much immediately about a character and their background. It’s also quick to write (and read), and I favour both brevity and pace. I immediately look to reviews when I’m looking for something to read, and if the advertised plot of the book draws me in I open it looking for strong, original dialogue, and a sense of mystery.
Q. So, now, about your book. Talk to us about it. No major spoilers.
After a young, Turner Prize-winning poet and performance artist is raped and stabbed to death at her house in Islington, Detective Kate Bastille struggles to find the perpetrator. At first Kate examines CCTV footage alongside digital forensics expert Sadie, but when it comes to light that their superior Peter has been accused of sexual assault, Kate is thrust into a leadership position and finds herself interviewing the many possible suspects. ONE LAST LOOK is Girl on the Train from the police perspective, written in an extremely fast-paced no-nonsense style.
Q. What part of the book did you enjoy the most while writing?
I most enjoy writing Kate’s dream sequences. They hold so much mystery to me and I love how abstract they can be. I plan to feature dream sequences in every Kate Bastille book. I am strongly influenced by David Lynch, and I enjoy lacing a touch of the surreal throughout an otherwise realist police procedural.
Q. What is your kryptonite as a writer?
Interruptions! It can be very hard to write when you have a cat sat on your keyboard.
Q. Would you and your main character get along in real life?
Yes, I think her personality has a lot in common with my own. She is possibly better at asserting herself than I am but we otherwise operate professionally and personally in a similar way.
Q. What risks have you taken with your writing that have paid off?
It’s risky to write in first-person from perspectives other than your own, but I make sure I do my research and spend a long time perfecting voices. I believe this justifies my use of voices of different genders and ethnic backgrounds. I love to create a sense of the teeming, cosmopolitan city that London is.
Q. Let’s talk about the process of writing. Do you do research while writing a book to add more authenticity? What kind of research?
I do. Starting points for me have included Michael O’Byrne’s The Crime Writer’s Guide to Police Practice and Procedure, true crime documentaries, and internet research. I also talk with retired police officers online, who are always very helpful with getting the everyday detail into the work.
Q. What was your hardest scene to write?
The opening chapter to One Last Look was very challenging as it features rape. I drafted it many times and had multiple readers check it to make sure it was not offensive and did not trivialise such a serious and traumatic crime.
Q. Well, this has been great. Now, before we wrap this up, do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Keep going, keep showing people your work, keep building. The more readers you have and the more criticism you get, the more the work will improve. Maintain a database of scenes, ideas, research, inspiring quotes and images. Enjoy the research.