Prolific book reviewer and author, KEITH NIXON lived for a while in the tiny coastal town of Broadstairs in the UK (where Charles Dickens spent holidays and wrote several books). Nixon is considered a top reviewer at the influential e-book blog called Big Al’s Books and Pals. Nixon first became known with a humorous crime novel called THE FIX. Described as “Murder. Theft. Sociopaths. And Margate. Just another day in banking pre-crash 2007…” Most recently, Caffeine Nights publishing released RUSSIAN ROULETTE, Nixon’s second novel in a hardboiled series about a Russian emigre by the name of Konstantin.
ELAINE ASH: Welcome to Ashedit, Keith. Fill us in on the state of Brit Grit these days.
KEITH NIXON: You know what? I hadn’t even heard of Brit Grit until after I published my debut novel, The Fix. I guess the nearest genre to Brit Grit is noir. Ultimately it’s British based crime with a rough edge. Brit Grit is growing, there are so many authors writing really excellent, gritty crime novels. From the best-sellers like Ian Rankin, to the fast risers such as Tony Black, Ray Banks, Allan Guthrie, Charlie Williams and more. It’s a genre I love being part of.
Your series centers around a Russian emigre named Konstantin Boryakov. Why choose a man from this background?
Initially Konstantin was added as a piece of humour–a tramp who claims to be KGB and hiding from Putin. [1st in the series is DREAM LAND.] He leaves his homeland because of political and internal pressures, the result of internal Cold War hierarchy, politics and threats. He’s an enigma with a dark history and darker future. I have read widely on the subject in books by Martin Cruz Smith.
You self-publish some books but also have a publisher for others.
Yes, I am still with Caffeine Nights. Russian Roulette is my second book with them. Initially I self published The Fix, had it properly edited and went through a couple of covers, the final one by Scottish designer Jim Divine. A couple of author friends read it and recommended it to Darren Laws at Caffeine. I haven’t looked back since.
As a reviewer you cover the whole waterfront! You have a presence in the US and also the UK.
I review for two sites – Big Al’s Books and Pals and Crime Fiction Lover. They’re quite different in their approach. Al, one of the nicest and best guys out there, leans towards indie and self publishing (he also runs the influential Indie View site). Al is US based and not genre specific. Crime Fiction Lover is firmly in the crime genre, UK based and tends towards the larger publishing houses.
I started with Al approaching 2 years ago initially as a way of reaching readers and writers as I’d just self published. What I gained was far more. I really enjoy ‘discovering’ writers who are new to me. What I soon found is that the adage that everyone has a book inside them is only partially correct. Not all self published books are well written. Part of my job is to advise people, with a constructive argument, what to potentially avoid as well as pick up.
So ultimately reviewing has generated many unexpected benefits besides finding great writers and readers. It’s also been about friendships.