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Joseph Knox was born and raised in and around Stoke and Manchester, where he worked in bars and bookshops before moving to London. He runs, writes, and reads compulsively. A powerfully assured debut by a British novelist who has the potential to be a leading player in modern noir.

Knox sets a dizzying pace and convincingly evokes the murky, unbalanced atmosphere of an empire built around drugs and money with vivid prose. The hard-hitting action builds to a bleak, wrenching conclusion because, of course, not everyone can be saved. Where did the idea for the story originate? I was at a house party very similar to the ones described in the book.


Drink, drugs and sweat on the walls. No-one knew who owned the house, though, and it was clear that whoever was throwing the party wanted to keep it that way. At the time I was reading The Great Gatsby and thought this could be a moody modern update. To what extent is the novel reflective of your experience living there?

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The largest bar in the city, which had a bad rep for drugs and violence. Which crime novels have influenced you most? Probably the American hardboiled stuff. Novels where life itself is as much a mystery as any murder. Given your expertise in the crime fiction world, are there any exciting trends you have noticed developing? Where do you see the genre heading?

You portray the inner workings of a police department with a deep understanding of the intricacies of loyalty, power, and scandal. Beyond your own wide reading in the crime genre, did you conduct any other research while writing the novel? I spoke to police officers but was rebuffed when they discovered Sirens would deal with corruption. Luckily I found that the banal betrayals and double-crosses of everyday life provided ample inspiration.

Siren’s Call (#1) – Devyn Quinn

Sirens reveals some of the human cost of the drug trade, from the commodification of the women who become involved with traffickers to the horrific deaths that can spread so easily with a bad batch of drugs. Did any news stories inform this aspect of the story? Some was bitter firsthand experience, some was national news.

Manchester has an enormous and heartbreaking drug problem with a so-called designer substance called Spice which is difficult to avoid. Q Each character in Sirens is somehow more compelling than the last—from our fallen hero Aidan Waits and his main adversary in drug lord Zain Carver to the cronies, groupies, and cops who populate your novel.


Did you have a favorite? Were any characters especially challenging to write?

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My favorite character is probably The Bug. Can you talk about the experience of publishing Sirens in the UK last year?

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  6. Were your Waterstones colleagues surprised to learn that you had written your book, all the while working for a major bookstore? How did it feel when the novel went on to receive such fantastic acclaim from the likes of Lee Child and Val McDermid? It completely changed my life. I worked on Sirens in secret for eight years, always broke, exhausted and desperate, during which time I lost friends, girlfriends and a great deal of hair.

    I was as surprised as everyone else when there was a bidding war for this dark little thing that came out of my head. I was so surprised by the first-one's twist in environments! For those of you who read it - you know the turn we were dealt! The second one, while I was so hopeful through the first half, was a romance let-down. But not only were there not enough moments in mermaid-form, but there was so little emotional tie-in for the romance between the main characters of this one compared to the main characters in the first of the series.

    I wanted more connection for the characters, and less "Ooh!

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    Physical contact! Just my opinion. Still a great read. And I enjoyed the evil queen's manipulations as well. Her character was much more vibrant and clearly well portrayed in this book! Eager for the next one! I'm sure I'll buy it as soon as it's out, just as I did this one!

    This one is quite different from the first novel, due to the fact that humans discover the existence of the Mer, and the mermaid sisters must deal with the realization that their lives may not belong to them anymore.

    Unlike the first book, this one did not have as much mermaid action as the first.