Author Kris Lillyman Interview


We were thrilled to have the opportunity to interview author Kris Lillyman. Kris has written books for both adults and children and we were keen to hear more about his process.

Who is Kris Lillyman?

I am a freelance graphic designer and illustrator living in Northamptonshire. Married with two grown up children, I have been running my own design business for over twenty-five years.

In addition to writing novels for adults, I also write and illustrate books for children.

What inspired you to become a writer?

My interest in writing started at a very young age – as early as five or six – and I was always writing stories at school. However, I also loved drawing, especially cartoons, and as a child that is what people knew me for. So, as I got older, writing took something of a back seat whilst I pursued a career in design.

It was not until I was in my mid-thirties that I read the actor Michael Caine’s autobiography, about his formative years growing up in war torn London and his later success in Hollywood. As I was reading it, something just ‘pinged’ in my brain.

It was a real lightbulb moment in which the plotline for my first novel ‘Bad Blood,’ suddenly became so clear to me that I had to begin writing it. Even though the finished novel bears no resemblence to Michael Caine’s life story, it does begin in South London and lead onto Hollywood.

In fact, the whole experience reignited my passion for writing which had laid dormant for all those years. Indeed, as I write this, I have outlined plans for three more novels – two comedies and a thriller.

As for the inspiration for my children’s books, they just seemed to be a natural extension of my own personality. I love silly humour and playing with words and being a cartoonist as well as a writer it just made sense to put them together. Stupidly, however, I did not recognise this until a couple of years ago and now I am busy making up for lost time. I write notes constantly about various ideas that pop into my head and have a great stock pile of already written manuscripts just waiting to be illustrated.

Tell us a bit about Boom Boom Books?

I set up the company in 2012 in order to keep my writing completely separate from my graphic design business.

Primarily, it is intended as an online presence to act as a ‘shop window’ for my books which are all published under the Boom Boom Books banner.

The website presents my range of novels and children’s books to maximum effect and includes links to various outlets where they can be purchased. It also features a bit about me and a short video on how to draw one of my characters. In addition, the website includes previews of coming releases.

All trading is directed through Boom Boom Books Limited.

Tell us about your books?

Books for adults

Currently I have four novels available; three thrillers and one comedy. A brief synopsis of each follows:

Bad Blood Bad Blood

The sins of a father, the revenge of a son.

Bad Blood is an epic story of friendship, love, murder and revenge. Joe and Sean are boyhood pals; tearaways living in the shadow of gangland amongst the rubble of post war London. The boys will do anything to protect the ones they love from the men they hate – even commit murder.

At fourteen, they make a pact to kill their fathers – the only sure way they can see of saving Joe’s sister, Sarah, and Sean’s mum, Rita, from certain death. It is a childish oath but in the years to follow it will come to mean everything. But retribution costs and as a result of their actions Sean and Joe’s lives are set upon a path strewn with tragedy and loss.

Along the way they will find success, power and love but they too will come at a price. Spanning thirty years, Bad Blood encompasses the violence of gangland London, the glamorous scandals of Hollywood and the debauched excesses of Las Vegas.

An epic thrill ride that will keep you gripped with every page.

Finders Keepers Finders Keepers

One good man, one very bad decision.

Jake Sawyer has lost everything; his business is in ruins, he is sinking under the weight of crippling debt and his wife has left him, taking their two children with her.

At breaking point, he is preparing to end it all when he witnesses a fatal car crash. In a futile attempt to save the driver, Jake discovers a case full of priceless diamonds and, immediately seeing his salvation, takes the case and flees to Europe without barely considering the consequences of what he has done.

A worldwide hunt for the diamonds ensues in which Jake has to evade both the police and the vicious mercenaries who are the true owners of the stones. Along the way, Jake will encounter murder, heartache and love as he desperately searches for redemption.

Finders Keepers is a nail-biting, fast-paced thriller that will have you hooked from the very first page.

PrintDance With The Devil

The Death of a dream, the birth of a nightmare.

Maria Liuzzi was born into a life of luxury and privilege; the only daughter of wealthy Hollywood studio boss, Carlo Liuzzi.

But when Maria finds herself pregnant by a young man whom Carlo believes unworthy of her, he becomes insane with anger.

After murdering her lover, Carlo separates Maria from her baby and banishes them abroad where they are destined to live forever apart.

Yet neither Maria or her young child make it to their respective destinations and what follows is their struggle to find not only each other but also the man who caused them to lose so much.

Dance With The Devil is an epic, action-packed, adventure thriller that spans thirty years. Encompassing the golden age of Hollywood, the desperate poverty of Hell’s Kitchen and the glamorous high life of Fifth Avenue, it is guaranteed to keep you gripped right up until its explosive finale.

Jam Tops, The Fonz and The Pursuit of CoolJam Tops, The Fonz and the Pursuit of Cool

A rockin’ retro rom com for the hair gel generation.

It’s 1978 and comic-collecting, TV obsessed, sci-fi geek, Gordy Brewer, dreams of transforming himself from super nerd into super cool.

Being cool is the only sure way he can think of to get bazooka-boobed babe, Pippa Wilson, the object of his desires, to go out with him.

But Pippa’s only got eyes for her ultra trendy, extremely good-looking, git of a boyfriend.

Not one to be put off, Gordy joins forces with music mad Daisy Flynn – his pretty but equally geeky best friend – and using ‘The Fonz’ as his guide to ‘all things cool’, sets out to win Pippa’s affections.

However, it seems the road to success is perilous with potholes and through disco disasters to holidays from hell Gordy soon learns that true love comes in all shapes and sizes – not just in a ‘D’ cup.

This nostalgic, fun-filled romp through the fashion fails, scare cuts and growing pains of small town life in the 70s and 80s proves that geeks can be cool after all!

Books for adults currently in progress

I am presently working on a sequel to ‘Bad Blood,’ called ‘World On Fire,’ which should be available towards the end of this year.

Books for children

Currently I have eight books available for children all written and illustrated by me. They are funny, colourful and packed with loads of zany illustrations. Purposely silly and written in rhyme, they are designed for kids and grown-ups to enjoy together. A brief taster of each follows:

Little Jimmy Getz and His Fabulous Pets

The boy with the World’s greatest collection of pets!

The story of a little boy whose love of pets becomes increasingly more exotic, eventually taking over his whole house. From hamsters to hippos, Jimmy’s got them all.

Here’s a brief extract:

Jimmy’s got a poodle, a bulldog and a golden retriever,

Plus a badger, a fox and a Canadian beaver,

He’s also got a rabbit, a gerbil and a hare,

As well as several cats – but it doesn’t stop there!

Kevin’s Dad

The World’s most unlikely super hero!

Kevin’s dad is seemingly a bit of a couch potato and something of a joke amongst Kevin’s friends. Yet what none of them know is that his dad is really a super hero – and Kevin’s in training to be his sidekick!

Here’s a brief extract:

Kevin’s dad hides his super suit under the bed,

And parks his fantastic rocket car beneath the garden shed,

In the living room, hidden behind the book case,

Is a pole he slides down to a top-secret base!

The Thingamajig

The strangest creature you’ve never seen!

The Thingamajig is a funny little creature that people find difficult to describe. He’s lovable and friendly yet extremely elusive – indeed, he is quite likely to turn up just about anywhere.

Here’s a brief extract:

If you were to describe the Thingamajig,

You’d say he’s a bit like a Whatsit but not as big,

Sort of a Watchamacallit but not as scary,

Or an Oojamaflip – but not as HAIRY!

The Confused Cow

She really is such a silly moo!

Celeste is the only cow on the farm so has no idea what she actually is. This leads her on a madcap search for her true identity where she misguidedly tries to behave like other animals on the farm.

Here’s a brief extract:

As the only cow on the farm Celeste could be excused,

For not knowing what she was and being confused!

She could be a chicken, or a dog – or a sheep of course…

Perhaps she was a pig – or maybe even a horse!

The Beach Bear

A big, bear-sized adventure!

Doug the Polar Bear hates the cold and dreams of spending his days on a beach and laying in the sun. With this in mind, he sets off from the North Pole on a floating chunk of ice in search of Hawaii – but as the weather gets warmer, his ice raft gets smaller and smaller.

Here’s a brief extract:

Doug the Polar Bear wasn’t born to be North Poled…

As he didn’t like ice and just hated the cold,

He thought his life would be much more pleasing…

Somewhere nice and warm – and a lot less FREEZING!

Brendan Saves Christmas

Oh, no! Santa’s lost in the snow!

On Christmas Eve, Brendan is awoken by the sound of jingle bells. From his bedroom window, he sees Santa’s sleigh parked outside. He soon discovers that Father Christmas has become lost in the snow – but Brendan has got a plan that will get him right back on track!

Here’s a brief extract:

It was nearly midnight on Christmas Eve,

When Brendan saw something that few would believe…

He couldn’t sleep, even though he’d tried and tried,

When he heard the jingling of bells coming from outside!

The 12 Months of Christmas

A whole year with Santa!

Everyone knows that Santa and Rudy are busy at Christmas – but what do they do the rest of the year? From January through to December, this festive tale finally explains it all.

Here’s a brief extract:

On Christmas Eve Santa and Rudy are full of good cheer,

But what do they do for the rest of the year?

Snuggle in and gather round, every one,

For a whole lot of laughter and seasonal fun!

The Ghosts of Gruesome Gap

A spooky tale of folks long departed, that’s not for the faint or feeble-hearted.

This is a ghostly tale of a place so haunted that no one should ever go there – the only trouble is, it never stays in one place!

Here’s a brief extract:

Gruesome Gap is a haunted place, full of fear and woe,

Heed these tales of spookiness and be sure you never go.

But if you must then please take care,

As many a poor soul has met their end there.

It’s eerie and creepy especially when dark,

No birds go cheep there and no dogs bark!

Presently, Gruesome Gap is a free book and only available through the iBooks store. It is being used as a lost leader to encourage people to try my other children’s books.

Books for children currently in progress

I have at least ten more children’s books written but yet to be illustrated. I hope to release these over the course of the next year. Currently I am working on another Christmas book called, ‘Roger The Rejected Reindeer’, which I hope to release in time for Christmas this year.

Who do you think will enjoy reading your books?

Books for adults

Bad Blood and Dance With The Devil are both epic sagas – thrilling with plenty of adventure and romance thrown in for good measure. They deal with friendship, family, love and revenge. Both sexy and violent, they each take the reader on a sweeping journey that spans the decades.

It is my hope that readers who like good, old-fashioned page-turners with lots of excitement and characters they can identify with, will enjoy these books and find them difficult to put down.

Finders Keepers is more of a conventional thriller set in the present day. Again, violent, sexy and packed with plenty of excitement, it takes the reader on a breathless ride across several continents as the flawed, yet sympathetic hero attempts to evade a gang of ruthless mercenaries.

Readers who like character driven, fast-paced stories should hopefully enjoy this non-stop adventure thriller.

Jam Tops, The Fonz and the Pursuit of Cool is a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy set in small town England in the 1970s and 80s. Packed full of pop culture, nostalgic period references and warm-hearted humour it is suitable for anyone ‘of a certain age’ who has fond memories of roller-discos, Star Wars and shrink-fit Levis.

Books for children

All of these books are silly, brightly illustrated and fun, featuring a cast of crazy characters which kids will love. Even though they are purposely designed for children aged between five and ten years old, they have lots of madcap humour that adults will appreciate too – making them ideal for story time anywhere.

Is it challenging writing for two different age groups and do you enjoy the diversity?

Strangely I don’t find it particularly challenging simply because they are both so different. I do, however, have to adopt two completely different mind sets which is possibly helped by my experience as a graphic designer. Due to the nature of this work, I have to be able to flit between jobs – one moment I can be working on a very sombre, very business-like logo, the next I can be drawing Father Christmas slipping over in the snow.

It is the same with my writing. I love telling stories – it does not matter what they are or who they are for – they are all just stories and if the people they are intended for enjoy them then all the better.

Which authors, dead or alive, inspire your writing?

I am inspired by many great writers in all sorts of genres – from graphic novels and comics through to autobiographies and epic blockbusters. Typically, I read mainstream fiction by popular authors such as Wilbur Smith, John Grisham, James Patterson and Dan Brown – much like everyone else and I suppose in some way they inspire my own writing.

Is there anything you feel you have learnt while writing that other authors may find useful?

I don’t know if this is useful or not but from my own experience, I find that if the initial idea is good then, if I’m lucky, the story will follow. The only other thing I have learnt is to find my own voice and not imitate anyone else. Whilst I believe it is impossible not to be influenced by other writers, it is important to develop a unique style and trust in yourself.

Also, I’ve heard it said, ‘always write about what you know’. This is fine if you happen to be an astronaut, or a secret agent or maybe even a master criminal, but if you are a humble green grocer or a milkman or, like me, a graphic designer, then ‘what you know’ might not be that interesting to others – at least not as a novel anyway. So my advice would to be to use your imagination and use the internet, which is the best reference library in the world. It can instantly transport you to wherever you need to go and teach you whatever you need to learn – so go write something that actually is interesting.

Name your three favourite books and why

This is very tricky because there are so many to choose from but if I am forced to choose, I would say these three, which have certainly been amongst the most memorable:

  1. Papillon by Henri Charrière – a fantastic book which I read from cover to cover in my teens. It just blew me away even though much of it was in French (which I do not read). Yet the true story of this man’s struggle was just incredible.
  2. The Moon’s a Ballon by David Niven – this is a marvellous, witty autobiography in which the movie star recalls his early years in Hollywood and is both moving and very funny. It also fed my interest in Hollywood which I write about in both Bad Blood and Dance With The Devil.
  3. Rich Man, Poor Man by Irwin Shaw – A truly epic novel about two brothers from very humble beginnings whose lives take two completely different paths. Again, this resonates in my own books with themes of family, friendship, love and revenge.

Where can your books be purchased?

My books can be purchased in the majority of online bookstores. The novels can also be purchased in paperback through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The books for children are only available in digital format at the moment but I am hoping that I will soon be able to release printed versions.

The only exception is The Ghosts of Gruesome Gap which is available exclusively via the iBooks store and for a limited period of time is offered free of charge.