Author Interview: Paul Graham

My guest this week is author Paul Graham, whose debut psychological crime thriller has just been published by Mereo Books – “In The Shadow They Cast”. I do enjoy a good thriller, and this novel is fast paced with twists and turns that kept me entertained from start to finish. The threads of the novel were very cleverly intertwined and I really can’t believe that this is Paul’s debut!A most excellent read.


A gripping, psychological crime thriller set in London, Brighton and New York that explores the deadly nature of consequences.  

·         In the murky world that surrounds the powerful Vignone family, one man’s ruthless actions unleash wide-ranging and deadly repercussions. 

Despite his impoverished, tough childhood in New York, Paolo Vignone has built a thriving, if morally-dubious, business empire which he rules over with harsh discipline – a discipline that he also applies to those closest to him.  So, when his son Lorenzo becomes involved in a relationship which does not meet with Paolo’s approval, he sends him to Europe to defuse the situation. However, when Lorenzo returns the situation is not as Paolo had planned.  The chain of events that follows leads to tragic and murderous consequences.


Hello Paul, welcome ! Please introduce yourself.

Hello, I’m Paul. I was born in Brighton and now live in Hove. That journey of less than 5 miles took me via Reigate, London, Barcelona and Bournemouth. I have worked in bookselling and IT, and currently teach English as a foreign language. I have two wonderful children each of whom has a partner and a dog.

“In The Shadow They Cast” is your debut novel – a psychological crime thriller set in London, Brighton and New York that explores the deadly nature of consequences. What inspired you to write a novel ?

A combination of things. I wondered if I could write an entire novel. I had dabbled with writing, produced short stories and filled notebook after notebook, but was never been sure that I had a book in me. 

Circumstances conspired to provide me with the opportunity and the idea. There is a an old story about a servant trying and failing to escape his destiny and also a tradition found principally in Asia which concerns The Red Cord which joins two people together. Those thoughts about connection and destiny form the backbone of In The Shadow They Cast. 

We can decide when to catch a bus, we can decide which bus to catch but we cannot decide who is on the bus, nor can we ever predict all the consequences of our actions. My novel is a story of decisions, actions and consequences (intentional or otherwise). 

In addition I wanted to explore the question of motivation – why people act the way they do. There are similarities in the difficulties that my characters, Paolo and Patricia, experience in their lives, but their reactions are very different.  Is the way people act and react a matter of nature?  Or is it cumulative, reaching a tipping point where everything becomes too much?

Are the characters based on observations of people you’ve come across in the past and incidents you’ve experienced? Who were the hardest characters to portray?

Here is a photograph which I took on Brighton seafront very early one September morning many years ago. ….

This scene was highly influential in my novel, providing me with characters, locations, incidents and atmosphere. I have no idea who the people in the photograph are, nor if their lives were anything like the one I have created based on them. All the characters are imagined, but many have quirks and foibles borrowed from people I have known. I also listened a lot to what people were saying and to the extraordinary things that had happened to them. However, there is one particular character who is more closely linked to reality than the others, but even so I have adapted the personality freely. 

The structure of the book is very important to me. I always knew the ending and worked back from that. The characters evolved by dint of that process, incidents were added to cause the characters to behave in a certain way, so the process was organic rather than each having a fixed set of characteristics at the outset.

Were there any aspects of writing your novel that surprised you, either by being harder or easier to write about than you expected?

For me the most difficult thing was leaving room for the reader. I believe that reading is an imaginative process. If the writer explains exactly how the character feels the reader can feel excluded. If the writer does no more than describe an incident then the reader can surmise how a character feels or what effect the incident has.

It was strange to realise that the writing process varied from day to day. Some days the words would flow and other days I would sit down to write and nothing would happen. Sometimes I would force myself and then have to delete it the next day, on other occasions the content was right but did not flow. Many times changing the order of the paragraphs solved the problem. There were other periods when I had to stop because I had set myself problems which I could not yet solve. 

I am pleased with the structure of the novel as a whole and there are some passages and dialogue which I particularly enjoyed writing and find satisfying when I re-read them

Hypothetically speaking, if In The Shadow They Cast was made into a film, who would you love to see portraying the characters, especially Lorenzo Vignone, Paolo, Patricia and Michael?

Paolo – Robert de Niro

Lorenzo – Ralph Macchio

Patricia – Olivia Coleman

Michael – Dan Stevens

Audrey – Emma Thompson

How did you come up with the book title? Did you consider any other titles?

The book had a working title (Like This) which was adequate when I started writing, but which no longer fitted as the book developed. The title In The Shadow The Cast is more closely linked to the themes of the book and is derived from a suggestion by the editor Chris Newton. 

Have you always wanted to have a career as an author or did you have other aspirations?

I have toyed with the idea of writing as a career and was once offered the opportunity to produce the in-house newsletter for a large company. I declined it because the role seemed to me very limited. I have never seriously thought about writing as a career. In The Shadow The Cast took a long time to write so I do not think I would ever be able to make a living from it.

 Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book?

Paper. For me there is something special about having a book in my hand. As for genre, at the moment I am in a thriller phase. I really enjoyed The Silent Patient and some of the books by Carmen Mola, but felt cheated when it was revealed that she is three men. I particularly like the mixture of myth and mystery in The Baztán Trilogy by Dolores Redondo. I am also drawn to metaliterature as exemplified by the early work of Jasper Fforde and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

Is In The Shadow They Cast available to purchase worldwide?


Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Cargo Pants, shoes by Josef Seibel, bright check shirt by Charles Tyrwhitt.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Charles Tyrwhitt; Next

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

New boots – I’ve been looking for ages. I found some a few weeks ago, but they didn’t have my size and then discontinued them! The search continues.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots – it’s something to do with solidity and contact with the ground. If I don’t have the right connection then everything above it is wrong. 

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc


Facebook: Paul Graham

Twitter: Paul Graham @paul_paulgraham

Instagram: Paul Graham paul_paulgraham

Thank you very much for the interview, Paul. Thanks also for the copy of “In The Shadow They Cast” for reviewing – I found the story most excellent and have no hesitation in giving this book a 9/10!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Paul Graham.

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