I was born in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, but have lived in Essex for the past thirty-six years.
As I said I live in Essex, with my wife Margaret, and my daughter Elizabeth. I had a Grammar School education. When I left school my first job was with the National Coal Board, in Staffordshire, as a Surveying Assistant. For many years I was a Chartered Surveyor, working for Local Government, including several years with the Greater London Council. In 1986, after the GLC was closed down, I started my own surveying practice, preparing reports and architectural drawings, for property conversions, extensions, and new build. I had a heart attack in 2004, and eventually, I retired in 2008.
Tell us your latest news
I self-published my latest novel, “Diagnosis Murder” in December 2016. Since that time I have been tentatively working on a tenth novel, although I’m having difficulty in thinking up a plot. But I have also been spending time releasing translations of my novels. So far I have ten translations (in several languages), and eight in progress. The latest, “Una Certidumbre Muerta”, (the Spanish translation of my private detective novella “A Dead Certainty”), should be available in a week or two.
Have you ever finished reading a book (OR...been intrigued by a synopsis) and wished you could get to know one of the characters a little better? Well, you’re in luck. Meet Tom Kendall, from the Kendall Series...
Tom Kendall, tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from? Is there anything you would like your fans to know about you that maybe wasn't revealed in your story?
The names Kendall, Tom Kendall. I’m a private detective. You can read about me in a coupla novels written by my good friend John. The first one was “The Mackenzie Dossier”; then there was “The Marinski Affair”; then “Epidemic” – that was a scary one I can tell you. No, not supernatural scary, but people dying scary, know what I mean. Then there was, “A Killing In The City”, so much for a vacation in London. But if you want to know how it all started then John has written it all up in “Kendall”. This is the one. It’s all there. How I started as a cop, then became a private eye.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
Well, I was brought up in New York, on the east side. I went to Brook Street School. Miss Lacey, she was my teacher. She was small, but she was tough. You didn’t cross her. Discipline you see, that’s the answer, discipline. You don’t get that now. After school I had a few dead end jobs, working in a store, and then I joined the New York Police Department. I was 17. My father had been a Police Sergeant with the 22nd Precinct, and so had his father before him. Even my uncle had been a police officer in Chicago. Then about ten years ago I left the department and started up as a Private detective, and haven’t looked back since, well maybe just once or twice.
What makes you Tom so special?
That’s a question for others to answer, but if pushed I guess there’s two things. I’m loyal, and determined. I never give up. Once I get an idea in my head you can’t shake it.
Tell me about your reputation and how it has impact your life and your relationship?
With me I guess you get what you see, there’s nothing fancy about me. But I’m honest, and fair. People know that, and they trust me. What is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong. I don’t do no harm to anybody, and I give to charity ... well occasionally I give to charity, especially children and animals.
Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you wished you had done differently?
Sure I have regrets. Doesn’t everyone. I’ve made mistakes, many mistakes. Things we didn’t do but should have; and things we did do but we shouldn’t have. I should have spent more time with my dad. That’s a big regret. Too late now, he’s been gone twenty plus years. We all do it, take people for granted I mean. But they need to be told you love them, things like that. An occasional hug, and a smile. But we can’t change the past, what’s done is done. We shouldn’t look back. Hey, I’m getting a bit sentimental, I’ll be crying soon, let’s press on.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Lazing on a beach somewhere in the Bahamas, maybe. The sun blazing down, a drink in my hand. The best of everything, you know, and money to burn. That’s where I see myself, but I guess in reality I’ll still be here, checking up on the cheating husbands, or the wayward wife; or tracking down blackmailers, and other low life. Someone has to do it, right. Guess it might as well be me.
If there was one thing you could change about your past what would it be?
Sure. I’d have been born into a wealthy family, and have no worries. Instead it was a brownstone over on the east side. Ma struggling to bring up three of us, and Dad out on the streets with the police department. It wasn’t so bad but it just could have been better, you know.
If you could go anywhere with one person, who would you take and where would you go?
I’d take Dad. We’d visit all the old places – Luigi’s, the Italian place he took mum on the thirtieth anniversary. A ball game, he loved baseball; the old cinema at the end of the street, it’s gone now, but he loved the old films, “The Maltese Falcon” that was his favorite; then we could stop for a drink or three at Mack’s. We’d have a time I can tell you.
Describe something that happened to you for which you have no explanation?
You mean something spiritual, something like that. Well I suppose to be honest I’m not that spiritual. I mean I don’t go to Church or anything. Oh weddings, and funerals certainly, but I don’t do the Sunday morning thing. Mind you I do have a belief that there is a God. He’s saved my hide a few times I can tell you. I guess I should be more appreciative, maybe the occasional visit would be something I should consider.
What was the best compliment you have ever received?
I guess that’s got to be when Detective Terrence Devaney, of the Miami Police Department, admitted that I had been right all along, and he should have listened to me. That’s got to be the best compliment I’d get from him, except for when he noticed my green and yellow stripe tie, and said it looked nice. You just can’t beat that, not where Devaney is concerned.
If you could have anyone locked in a room so that you could torment them for a day, whom would you choose and how would you torment them?
Got to be Devaney. He’s a great friend, but he does like to kid me. I’d get him back though,, and I’d play all of my blues records. He hates them.
Would you rather be ugly and live forever or attractive and die in a year?
What a question. Me already being so good looking, I mean. Well my mother loves me at least.
If you could go to anyone (living or dead) for advice who would it be and what would you ask?
Got to be Dad. He was a good cop. I never was, too laid back, didn’t like all the rules. What would I ask him? Just anything about the way he approached solving crimes. Me, I’m a plodder. I check things out, over and over. I question even my own decisions. Then eventually I get the answer.
Mountains or Beach?
Yes. Either way, it beats the City.
Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?
Marilyn Monroe. I guess she had a hard life, and she deserved something better, so, hey here I am. Just don’t tell Mollie. Mollie? She my business partner.
Will we be seeing more of you in the future or has your story already been told?
Crime never stops, so as long as I’m able I’ll be there. It’s my job to catch the bad guys and put them away. Simple as that.
Want to know more about John Holt? Continue reading his in-depth interview...
When and why did you begin writing?
Good question. I guess, like many other people, I had wanted to write a novel for a long time, but I could never think of a decent plot – a decent original plot. The first novel I wrote, “The Kammersee Affair” was inspired by a trip to the Austrian lake district. We stayed at a place called Grundlsee. The next lake was Toplitz which was used by the German Navy during the war to test torpedoes and rockets. As the war ended many items were disposed of in the lake, including jewellery, weapons and counterfeit dollars and pounds. There were rumours of gold bullion also being placed in the dark waters of the lake. Extensive searches have never found any gold. The book is about the search for hidden nazi gold. But it is much more than that. It is the story of two men, an SS Major, and an American GI. It is a story of blackmail, murder, and revenge. After that there were eight other novels, and three novellas.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s a trick question. How do you judge? What criteria do you use to answer that question? I have always been a writer, even from primary school. I enjoyed writing things like “What did you do on your Summer holidays”. Okay, so I had to wait a long time before my first novel was completed. But did that make me a writer? Or was it the eight novels and three novellas that came afterwards? Was that enough to make me a writer? I guess I would have been pleased to be a professional novelist, and make my living from my books. Sadly that wasn’t to be. And no I’ve gone full circle – trying to think up a decent plot once again.
Do you have a specific writing style?
After “The Kammersee Affair” I had an idea about a private detective story, but I wanted to do it in the film noir style, so it had to be based in America. I soon realised that I just could not match the Raymond Chandlers of this world, and started to develop my own style. But basing the story in the US caused no end of problems, mainly with American phrasing instead of British. I got a bit of criticism on that one. I try hard to get it right, and take note of the criticism. I’m still making errors, but I think they are getting less and less.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
No, no messages; no hidden poignant meanings; no answers to the secret of life. Just plain old fashion entertainment, which I hope people will enjoy.
How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I have written one novel set during and just after World War 2; and one novel set in, and just after, the American Civil War. I have no first-hand knowledge of either event. The bulk of my writing concerns murderers, and blackmailers – not the kind of people I run into in the normal course of a day.
What book are you reading now?
I have just finished reading “To Kill The President” by Sam Bourne. Without giving too much a way, it is about a US President threatening military action against North Korea, and steps considered necessary, by some, to stop him. Oh, and by the way, it’s fiction.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Can’t think of anything. A novel, or at least my novels, are generally about 300 pages long. Things happen that lead to other things, good or bad. I guess what I’m trying to say is that changing something might not be that simple, and might lead to all sorts of complications. No the book is written, warts and all. Move on to the next.
Who designed the covers?
All my own work. I keep them simple. I look for a suitable photograph on the Internet. Get permission to use it, if appropriate. Add the title, and the blurb on the back, using Photoshop, and that’s it, done.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
People vary. Some will love your work, others will hate it. Don’t try to please anyone, except yourself. Write for yourself. If you have something to say, then say it. Enjoy your writing, because if you don’t enjoy it, what’s the point. If you enjoy it that’s great; if others also enjoy it that’s a bonus.
The Mackenzie Dossier
Kendall could just see the television screen. There was a photograph of Governor Frank Reynolds. Across the bottom of the screen the ticker tape announced in large black letters 'Governor Reynolds Murdered'. The voice over was filling in whatever detail was available. Apparently, his body had been discovered earlier that morning. He had been found lying in his garage. He had been shot twice. One shot to the upper chest, the other hitting his shoulder.
The Marinski Affair
The Marinski Affair began as a dull mundane case involving a missing husband. Okay, so he was a rich missing husband, but he was nonetheless, still only a missing husband. The case soon developed into one involving robbery, kidnapping, blackmail and murder. But was there really a kidnapping? And exactly who is blackmailing who? Who actually carried out the robbery? Who committed the murders? Who can you trust? Who can you believe?
Tom Kendall, a down to earth private detective, is asked to investigate the death of a young newspaper reporter. The evidence shows quite clearly that it was an accident: a simple, dreadful accident. That is the finding of the coroner and the local police. Furthermore, there were two witnesses. They saw the whole thing. But was it an accident, or was it something more sinister?
A Killing In The City
‘To make a killing in the City’ is a phrase often used within the financial world, to indicate making a large profit on investments, or through dealings on the stock market - the bigger the profit, the bigger the killing. However, Tom Kendall, a private detective, on vacation in London, has a different kind of killing in mind when he hears about the death of one of his fellow passengers who traveled with him on the plane from Miami. It was suicide apparently, a simple overdose of prescribed tablets.
Tom Kendall had been with the 32nd Precinct, New York Police Department for just under ten years. But now he wanted a change. Now he wanted to start his own Private Detective Agency. He had grand ideas. He wasn’t interested in just any old case. Oh no, he would handle only the big time cases, the expensive ones. He would be able to take his pick, the ones that he wanted, where the stakes were high and so were the rewards.
A Case Of Murder
Whittaker passed the drinks over. “Anyway, it seems that he’s got himself into a bit of bother,” he continued. “A very serious bit of bother.”
“Bother?” repeated Kendall.
Whittaker heaved a sigh. “Yes you know,” he replied. “Trouble.”
Kendall nodded. “Oh trouble, I get you,” he said. “So what sort of bother are we talking about?”
Whittaker took another drink. “Well, it’s a case of murder I’m afraid.”
“Murder,” repeated Mollie. Whittaker said nothing but simply nodded agreement.
Another murder, thought Kendall. Just what I need.
“Mr. Kendall, in the past few months there have been a number of doctors who have mysteriously disappeared, or whose deaths were either alleged to be accidents, or were suicides, or they were actually murdered.”
Kendall made a mental note to find out about these ‘other doctors.’ “A number of doctors you said. How many are we talking about?”
Mrs. Eaton thought for a few moments. “To my knowledge, there have been at least eight cases in the past six months.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
For a start, a great big thank you, I really hope that you enjoyed my work. If you did, I would greatly appreciate a review. On the other hand if you absolutely hated the books, let that be our little secret, know what I mean, nudge, nudge ….
What makes you laugh/cry?
Comedies, old comedies – The Two Ronnies; Morecombe and Wise; Only Fools and Horse; Tony Hancock; Abbott and Costello; Laurel and Hardy. What makes me cry? Cruelty to children; cruelty to animals; events like those currently happening in Myanmar.
Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
My father, who died twenty-one years ago. Why? To spend more time with him, as I should have done while he was alive.
Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Photography. That is taking photographs, but also restoring them if I can using Photoshop.
What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I have to say that much of modern television, like the movies, leaves me cold. Even the advertisements are loud, in your face, and quite dark. Most of the time I turn to channels showing old programmes – Only fools And Horses; Fawlty Towers. Or I tend to use the television merely to play DVDs of movies. Although, I have to admit that at present I am watching “Bake Off”, and I’ll probably watch Strictly.
Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
As far as foods are concerned, nothing exotic. I’m not one for hot spices, or curries. I like a good steak, and good old fish and chips. As to colours, I’m more into pastel shades, nothing too dark like purples. My musical tastes are varied. Many years ago I used to write articles for a Blues magazine – Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Son House, Charley Patton. But I also like Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Classical music. I very food of ballet, classical ballet that is, (watching, not doing).
One final question...Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I’m afraid I don’t have a blog. All I can offer is my Amazon Author Page and a Facebook Page