Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Out of the cell block

Blame it on the prison exhibit I visited in Paris at the Carnavalet museum.
The haunting scenes of the plague ridden prison Saint Lazare, the thick walls of La Roquette an infamous women's prison, the storming of the Bastille...

But with all the crimes my blogmates commit - on the page - or the stage
I feel like grilling the crew,
So time to take them out of their cells into a dark, dank room for questioning about their life of crime. Shine the lights, dole out cigarettes and get them to talk.

Here goes, it’s rubber-hose time, folks: a rapid-fire Q&A for those shifty-looking usual suspects ... Leighton, Tim, and Dan...

Cara - What crime novel would you most like to have written?

Dan - The Martin Beck series by Maj Slowall and Per Wahloo. Or The Goodbye Look by Ross Macdonald. Or...you get the picture
Tim - Crime and Punishment
Leighton - It’s like asking me what is my favorite dish.

Cara - What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Dan - Lew Archer. can't imagine anyone more different to me.
Tim - Travis McGee because he lived on a boat and never heard of political correctness.
Leighton - The narrator in Joseph Conrad’s story, Youth.

Cara - Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Dan - I read a heap of sport books for guilty pleasure. In the world of crime, it's all pleasure, none guilty.
Tim - Entertainment Weekly, in the continuing hope that I'm in it.
Leighton - How can you feel guilty about any kind of reading?

Cara - Most satisfying writing moment?
Dan - Seeing someone on the London Underground reading my book.
Tim - When I realize, usually about 15,000 words in, what I'm actually writing about. To choose a single moment, the day the carton filled with copies of my first book, THE FOUR LAST THINGS, arrived on my doorstep.
Leighton - Every time I surprise myself with one of those where the hell did that come from? moments

Cara - Do tell, the best Brazilian, British, Thai, Icelandic, South African crime novel is …?
Dan - Best British crime novel...too many to mention. My favourite? King Solom's Carpet by Barbara Vine (which only recently read thanks to a recommendation from a MiE follower!)
Tim -Leighton Gage, LAST GASP; British, Dan Waddell, THE BLOOD DETECTIVE; Icelandic, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, MY SOUL TO TAKE; South African, THE SECOND DEATH OF GOODLUCK TINUBU.
Cara - what, nothing in France?
Leighton - I have an equal love for many different crime novels.

Cara - What Brazilian, British, Thai, Icelandic, South African crime novel would make a great movie...apart from yours?
Dan - Cathi Unsworth's The Not Knowing would make a great film
Tim - Oh, boy, I don't know. I could really see Leighton's BURIED STRANGERS when I was reading it.
Leighton - Patricia Melo’s In Praise of Lies.

Cara - Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Dan - Worst - having to write. Best - having to write
Tim - Worst -- Spending a year managing a daydream without any idea at all whether it's any good.
Best -- Looking back on a book and seeing something I got right -- Chapter 11 in my new one, the best chapter I ever wrote.
Leighton - Starting a book/Finishing a book

Cara - Pitch me your next book
Dan - Bad stuff happens. The past comes back to haunt the present. The police are flummoxed. Nigel Barnes steps in to save the day...
Tim - What happens to an angel in Bangkok?
Leighton - People are being murdered in Brazilian cities hundreds of kilometers apart. They’re of different sexes, different ages and different backgrounds. But there is a connection. Silva and his crew have to find it. The book is called Every Bitter Thing. It launches in December.

Cara - Who are you reading right now?

Dan - The last in the Martin Beck series
Tim - Scott Eyman, LION OF HOLLYWOOD, the biography of Louis B. Mayer. Really compelling.
Leighton Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. Great book!

Cara - The three best words to describe your own writing are...?
Dan -Pacy. Lively. Er...
Tim - Bangkok espresso noir
Leighton - entertaining, engrossing, accurate.

Yrsa, Michael and Stan...what about you?

Cara - Tuesday


  1. Cara -What about you?

    Leighton, I have read WOLF HALL. The Tudors and the Stuarts encompass what is my favorite period in history. A book I read about Mary Stuart becoming queen when she was six days old pulled me into history. I was in the fourth grade and I have been enthralled ever since. Hilary Mantel did an extraordinary job humanizing Thomas Cromwell who, historically, is not considered endearing, or even particularly likable. The reason the book is entitled WOLF HALL is a really clever device.

    A man I know says that every man becomes a feminist when he has a daughter. Travis would likely have had his boat burned by now.

    Dan, Leighton uses the term "accurate". That word certainly applied to BLOOD ATONEMENT. I will not get into how this book plays into my visceral reaction to Mitt Romney.

    Tim, don't you have to be Lindsey Lohan or the winner of a "reality" game show to make it into Entertainment Weekly?

    Dan, the Martin Beck series was my introduction to crime novels beyond the US and England.

    "Seeing someone on the London Underground reading my book," is at the core of my refusal to buy a Kindle or any of its relatives. At least one other person who saw that book searched it out at a bookstore or library and a fan was born. Airports, waiting rooms, and public transportation are great publicity for a book.


  2. Thanks, Beth.
    Let's see...I wish I'd written A Coffin for Demetrios the lodestar espionage classic by Eric Ambler.
    Fictional character - Eloise because she had a turtle and lived at the Plaza
    My guilty pleasure is reading la Femme Actuelle a Parisian woman's mag like Woman's Day.
    Most satisfying moment...seeing my first book on the shelf of my local library.
    Best French crime novel imho Murder in Memoriam by Didier Daenickx
    Best French crime novel to a movie - The Lone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette.
    Best thing about writing - finding the right word Worst - not finding the right word
    Pitch for next book - Aimée's drawn into the chic 16th arrondisement - Basque terrorists, a kidnapped Spanish princess and her godfather Morbier's a suspect.
    I'm reading Collusion by Stuart Neville and blown away by it
    3 words - chic, edgy, noirette

  3. Cara, I read THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST and I found it hard to understand how Neville was going to redeem his character enough to allow him to continue.

    Neither Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, nor George Mitchell received the credit they deserved for negotiating the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Gerry Adams, the leader of the political wing of the IRA, was persnona non grata everywhere. There was very good reason to believe that he had participated in the more deadly side of the movement. Adams did not represent Northern Ireland so an official visit with the president of the United States wasn't possible. Instead, Ted Kennedy convinced Clinton to invite Adams for lunch at the White House. That gave Adams a seat at the negotiating table and insured the cooperation of the IRA. The Good Friday agreement effectively stopped the terrorist activities of the IRA. If they had continued, the coalition government of Northern Ireland would have fallen apart.

    THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST is about the kind of revenge that cost hundreds of lives. COLLUSION is to be released here in August.


  4. Here are my answers to Cara's questions. Was on the road when she sent it.

    What crime novel would you most like to have written?

    The Hound of the Baskervilles, and about 1000 others

    What fictional character would you most like to have been?

    James Bond

    Who do you read for guilty pleasures?

    I agree with Leighton. How can one feel guilty reading anything? My airport literature includes books by - Jeffrey Deaver, Vince Flynn, Wilbur Smith, and the likes.

    Most satisfying writing moment?

    Having a copy of A Carrion Death in hand.

    The best Brazilian, British, Thai, Icelandic, South African crime novel is …?

    South African: The Song Dog by James McClure

    What Brazilian, British, Thai, Icelandic, South African crime novel would make a great movie...apart from yours?

    Mixed Blood by Roger Smith
    The James McClure series would be great for a series on TV.

    Worst / best thing about being a writer?

    Worst: the time it takes to promote and market; Best: Having strangers tell you that they enjoyed your stories

    The pitch for your next book is …?

    The book is Death of the Mantis, due out in 2011. People are being murdered in the Kalahari for no apparent reason. Some bushmen are suspected, but there is no motive; a Namibian prospector is suspected, but then he is murdered. Kubu works with his old Bushman friend to work out the puzzling clues. Kubu's near death experience in the desert leads him to an astonishing solution.

    Who are you reading right now?

    The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

    The three best words to describe your own writing are

    evocative, languid, accurate

  5. Cara - I think Aimee is Eloise, all grown up.
    Both are anarchists.