Mystery Thriller Week: Q&A with Gavin Mills

Mystery Thriller Week, a celebration of the genre and its authors and readers, is underway through February 22. If you’ve done the math, yes, it’s 10 rather than the usual seven days. It’s a super-sized week for a super-sized genre. For more information, stories, and author interviews, pop over to

In conjunction with the event, I’ll be sharing Q&As with mystery and thriller authors throughout the week (and a half).

Today, I welcome Gavin Mills, author of Dup Departs: A Time to Go.

About the book

Arnold Du Preez has lived in South Africa his whole life. But the time has come – and one thing he’s certain of, it’s time to get out.

An action packed roller coaster ride from the slums of Lagos and the backstreets of Warsaw to glittering nights of beautiful women and crazy parties, behind the scenes at the first ever Miss World Pageant at Sun City South Africa.

…Then an actress dies from a drug overdose, the cops try push the deed onto a Nigerian movie mogul – while Ivan Baczkowzki, the bloodthirsty Polish crime syndicate kingpin will let nothing come between him and his plans for a new cocaine pipeline into Australia.

…And with Louanne, the hot as hell stripper in his back corner, Dup tries desperately to play all sides – to keep his family alive.

Sometimes when you are caught in the middle, there is nothing you can do but go with the flow and pray you make it to the end…


What would you like readers to know about your book beyond what’s in the blurb?

Dup Departs provides an alternative insight into contemporary life in South Africa. The 1994 first democratic elections marked the end of the heinous system of Apartheid and promised an end to discrimination and oppression. It marked the beginning of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) which rightly was supposed to level the playing fields.

Dup, the hero considers himself a victim of the system when forced to consider questionable alternatives to make ends meet.

Do you start writing at the beginning of a story or to reach a future point you see in your imagination?

Normally I visualize a pretty loose plot and strong idea of main characters, and then develop and populate the stage as I go along. This invariably takes me to places and situations far from original concepts – which for me is what makes writing such fun and so rewarding. It’s like going on a first date to an unknown haunt. Until you get to know the surroundings and the characters, it’s pretty much open season!

What are your protagonist’s best and worst qualities?

In Dup Departs, Dup’s best qualities are honour with others and faithfulness to family. He’s a bit like a faithful old dog. His worst characteristics are his penchant to blame his lot on situation and circumstance, rather than himself. He’s a good bloke with a good heart, but not the strongest personality on the planet, more willing to go with the flow than make the flow happen.

What’s the most surprising or unexpected thing that happened to your characters as you were writing the story?

A few crazy surprises. Firstly, I was amazed that Dup didn’t get himself blown away quite early in the book. He was paddling way out of his depth and I honestly thought he would lose his cool and blow it quite a few times. Thank God he didn’t else it would have been a really short book!

I also felt sorry for the actress’s boyfriend. Talk about the wrong place at the wrong time! And if Louanne wasn’t the girl she was – well that would have been a totally different story. …And of course Genghis Kahn… What a man!

What’s the first book you can remember loving?

I think the first book I really loved was a short story by Ray Bradbury called A Miracle of Rare Device. It was a setwork book at school. Can’t really remember much about it apart from the fact that is gave me goose-bumps and that is always good.

What’s the last great book you read?

Recently I have just re-read As The Crow Flies by Geoffrey Archer. I really loved it. I love dynasty stories and the way Archer works with a timeline.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard or been given?

When you start a story, get the story down and don’t look back. There will be plenty of time later for crafting

What did you wish I’d asked, and why?

Do your books have any form of message or relevance beyond entertainment?

I believe they do – and I believe writers have a unique ability to affect the world and lives. Whether we talk of killers, crime, love, hate or any of the other millions of topics covered by the written word, I hope what we say has influence, maybe in unexpected ways. …Holding true my conviction that the pen is mightier than the sword – even in fiction.

How can readers find out more about you and your work?

Anyone wishing to find out more about me and my books can find me on Goodreads, my FB author’s page and Pinterest:


More Mystery Thriller Week Q&As:

Q&A with Morgan Talbot

Q&A with Edwin Herbert

Q&A with Joynell Schultz

Q&A with Paul Russell Parker III

Q&A with D. M. Barr

Q&A with Elena Hartwell

Q&A with Marie Jones