Where’s your bookcase located and what does it look like?
This is the main one and it’s in my office. My desk is set up facing away from it so I don’t get distracted. There are other sets scattered around the house and piles of books absolutely everywhere because I get sent lots of proofs and still don’t have my buying habit under control.
They’re really sturdy but basic old shelves with a deep space along the bottom perfectly sized for my growing vinyl collection. In an ideal world they’d be artfully arranged with little paintings and meaningful objects and maybe some scented candles but I need every square inch of capacity for books, which is why they’re double stacked and fit to bursting point.
What kind of books will definitely not be found in your bookcase?
Romance novels. Being a crime writer I am completely dead inside and the entire genre just leaves me cold. Although some of the books on there might qualify under the broadest definition – The Remains of the Day, Madame Bovary, The Collector…
What author have you discovered and loved recently?
I’d been seeing lots of praise for Pascal Garnier from bloggers whose opinion I massively respect and finally took the plunge with The Islanders. His work is reminiscent of Georges Simenon’s spare and troubling roman durs and a must for readers who are yearning for crime fiction which mutters rather than screams.
Where is your favourite place to read?
Ideally, laid out on the sofa with no distractions. But anywhere really, and having a book in your hand in public places is great for eavesdropping because as long as you remember to turn the pages at regular intervals people around assume you’re not listening and you can pick up the best stories.
Can books change lives? If so, which one changed yours?
Books can absolutely change lives! We know they’re vital for developing empathy and I think that’s their greatest strength, exposing the reader to worlds they don’t know and struggles they haven’t experienced personally, or as a way of making sense of ones they have.
The book which set my life on a different path was Let It Bleed by Ian Rankin, picked up on a whim in Waterstones, it’s the one which made me want to write crime. I wouldn’t be writing this now if it wasn’t for that book.
What’s the book you’d choose as your Desert Island read?
The Brother Karamazov by Dostoevsky, because it’s been on my shelf for years, enjoyed but half read, and that’s the only way I’ll manage to finish it.
What book did you give last as a present and to whom?
It was my father’s birthday recently and I bought him A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee, which I’d been lucky enough to read at proof stage and was hugely impressed with. Dad’s a big fan of historical crime thrillers and as his own father spent time in Calcutta with the army this one went down very well. He’s at that age where he has everything he’ll ever want or need and is really tough to buy for, so thank God for books!
What are you reading now?
I’m currently binging on non-fiction research for my own next one – but I’m very superstitious so can’t reveal what they are. Fiction wise, it’s the new one from Rod Reynolds, Black Night Falling. I was blown away by Rod’s debut and believe he has a great career ahead of him. It isn’t released until August but I’d recommend starting with The Dark Inside anyway.
What are your top ten books?
- Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
- The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith.
- Therese Raquin by Emile Zola
- Vanity Fair by W.M Thackeray
- Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
- The Easter Parade by Richard Yates
- Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov
- The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
- Mildred Pierce by James M Cain
- Filth by Irvine Welsh
It’s weird looking at that list and realising there is so little crime on it when I read three crime books to every one non-crime, but these are novels I’ve gone back to over and again. Although most of them turn around violent acts so there’s no escaping the lure of criminality.
What’s your most treasured book on your bookcase?
The one I’d save from a burning building is an illustrated copy of The Odyssey I was given when I was eight or nine years old, a big, chunky hardback with beautiful pictures inside. It’s one of the books which stoked my passion for reading and shaped my desire to become a writer.