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[Interview] Guy Adams Talks Timeless Characters, Comics and the Future of the ‘Deadbeat’ Series

Guy Adams gifted the world one of the finest novels of 2013. Deadbeat is an absolutely amazing read that offers a little bit of everything, and demands a second read. It’s a clear-cut masterpiece, and anyone who hasn’t read the novel yet is missing something truly special.

When a novel of this caliber comes along, it’s almost mandatory that I pick the author’s brain. Guy is an intelligent dude with a fantastic grasp on his craft. And, it’s time you learned a little sumthin’!


Horror Novel Reviews: You know what I want to talk about. Deadbeat. First and foremost, where did the idea come from?

Guy Adams: The initial hook was a love of the old TV series THE AVENGERS really. That show was just so good at brilliant story hooks. Weird little mysteries offered at the top of the show that pulled you in mercilessly.  A man drowns in the middle of a field, attacked by rogue rain; an empty village rings out with the sound of a marching army but when you look they’re not there; a man is shot in the middle of a quaint English village and NOBODY BATS AN EYELID. They were just wonderful. So I wanted to write one.

Two men are walking home from the pub when they see some undertakers taking a coffin out of a church. They stumble, the coffin spills, the occupant falls out, SHE’S BREATHING… they load her back up and drive away.

Having come up with that I was trying to figure out the mystery as much as the reader. I’m not a planner, I like to throw challenges onto the page and then solve them as I go.

I’d used Max and Tom before (though they had a completely different history prior to DEADBEAT) so they were my two men.

The rest is me making it up as I go along.

HNR: Are there specific inspirations for the characters Max and Tom?

GA: They were originally created ten years ago for a company I worked for that offered serial stories via email (which sounds quaint now but seemed wonderfully modern and exciting back then). It was my first paid writing job, I was still an actor at the time. As a thanks to the man that got me the job, the characters were thin ciphers for the two of us. He was Tom, I was Max. It was an in-joke that only he would spot.

As always happens, they ended up developing a life of their own. I am no longer like Max, thankfully, though I recognise my younger self in him and our acting careers share a few credits.

HNR: Max and Tom share something of a love/hate relationship. Was that something you wanted to dabble with immediately, or did that blossom as the story developed?

GA: It was there from the start. I love writing about friends. I think it stems from a love of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. You see it time and again in my books.

Max and Tom are an old married couple, now so closely knit that neither could really survive without the other.


HNR: Now these are two really likeable characters. It’s easy to imagine a series of novels that feature random adventures. Is the idea of stretching this one out on your mind, or do you plan to leave this as a one off?

GA: It was always planned as a series. Potentially a rather long one. I have various future stories in mind, the second THE DOGS OF WAUGH is much bigger in scope, a full-on mad adventure. The third (please let there be a third!) OLD BONES, is darker and more intimate.

I like stories that shift in tone, and with Max and Tom I have protagonists with rich pasts and long futures.

HNR: Putting all modesty or ego aside, do you think these two have the charm to become iconic fictional characters?

GA: Oh God, I don’t know! They’re deeply loved by me, that’s the important thing. If that’s conveyed on the page so that it can be shared by the reader then fingers crossed they’ll be a hit with people.

It’s part of the job I always find strange. I am trying to leave modesty aside, but coming up with these mad stories is always personal. Then you realise — and hope of course — that complete strangers might warm to them as much as you do. We all have books, characters, that we feel a bond with. Fictional constructs that we relish and savour. It never really occurred to me that people might feel that way about any of my books (again, not modesty so much as perspective, I was writing these, I’m coming at them from a different angle), then you get messages from people saying how much they liked them, or reviews from people that like what you’ve done and you realise ‘Oh, these are out there now, being experienced by people that aren’t me. How weird.”

HNR: Let’s say Deadbeat makes it to the big screen. Who do you see portraying our two leads? I can’t help but see an aged Simon Pegg and Nick Frost taking over (I have no idea why those two jump to mind, but hey it is what it is).

GA: Hmm… As much as I like Pegg and Frost, that’s not how I see them (which plays into what I said above, your vision of them is just as accurate as mine now, people always see different things in mutual friends). Marc Warren would be good as Max, and Ralph Brown would play a blinder as Tom.

HNR: There are elements of suspense and drama in this novel, but there’re also some elements of horror, and some thriller action in there. How would you classify Deadbeat?

GA: Parts of the book were originally published as a novella many years ago (and read my literally tens of people). Then I said it was “just like every other pulp crime/horror/comedy/thriller you’ve ever read.” That joke doesn’t quite work anymore as the field doesn’t feel as sparse.

I like books that are a mixture of everything. It makes publisher’s terribly cross. Yes there’s humour in it, but that doesn’t stop some of the events being utterly horrific. Some parts are high action, others quiet and excruciating.

To me, that’s life, why limit yourself?

I would classify it as a Guy Adams novel and hope that doesn’t make me sound like an utter twat.

HNR: There’s a level of comfort in your writing that a lot of authors never seem to catch hold of. But you manage. What do you attribute that quality to?

GA: Being a good liar. I find writing terribly hard. I love dreaming up a book, hate actually writing it. The fact that I never let that show on paper is probably my main skill!

HNR: What are you working on right now? What can we expect to see in the near future?

GA: I’m currently finishing off the second in the HEAVEN’S GATE trilogy, my weird western series published by Solaris. Cowboys in Hell about sums it up. That’s due out next year.

My new espionage/horror series (see, that dash again, because I can’t help but mix genres) THE CLOWN SERVICE is released by Del Rey UK in September.  That’s all very exciting.

I write comics too and I’ve written a new version of an old 2000AD character, ULYSSES SWEET – MANIAC FOR HIRE that will be starting in a few months. Certainly the most ridiculous, and overtly comedic thing I’ve ever written. GOLDTIGER, a book I co-created with artist Jimmy Broxton is also out soon.

HNR: Anything you’d like to plug before we let you off the hook?

GA: I think I’ve whored myself enough! Thanks for having me.

You can grab the amazing Deadbeat right here.

About The Overseer (1669 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

3 Comments on [Interview] Guy Adams Talks Timeless Characters, Comics and the Future of the ‘Deadbeat’ Series

  1. An interesting man here with a fun sense of himself…I will need to figure out where to fit this in and read it…as always…just me….Vitina


  2. Wayne C. Rogers // August 4, 2013 at 6:12 pm // Reply

    I have the paperback of Deadbeat: Makes You Stronger. Haven’t read it yet, but it looks damn good. I saw in the back of it where the first chapter (it’s only three pages long) of the next Deadbeat novel appears–The Dogs of Waugh. I have to assume the second novel is coming out soon.


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