Guy Bolton: Author’s Bookshelf

Where’s your bookcase located and what does it look like?
I have two ladder shelves in my living room. One of them I’ve made the bold step of organising by colour. I resisted at first but they’re mostly non-fiction and it does look good. The other shelf is fiction organised by author. I like to keep the Le Carres and the Dennis Lehane’s together.

 What kind of books will definitely not be found in your bookcase?
Childrens books or YA fiction. Although I suspect when I have kids that’ll change quickly!

What author have you discovered and loved recently?
Don Winslow. I can see myself working through all his books.

Where is your favourite place to read?
I love reading on the train, mostly when I’m visiting family. It’s the one place where you feel like there’s no distractions. And I love looking up to see I’m passing through the countryside.

Can books change lives?
I think they can give people new perspectives. And people change lives.

If so, which one changed yours?
My uncle introduced me to Martin Cruz Smith’s Renko series. It was the first time I read a book and thought “I want to write crime fiction like this.” I started my first detective novel not long after.

What’s the book you’d choose as your Desert Island read?
I thought long and hard about this question. I think I’ve circled back to Birdsong. I read it when I was nineteen, just starting to be interested in writing. And I think it bridges a gap for me between childhood and adulthood. Reading it now I find fault in it, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I could spend years dissecting it.

What book did you give last as a present and to whom?
I bought my little nephew Burglar Bill for his 3rd birthday. It was my favourite book as a child and I love the idea of passing that story down. I’m looking forward to reading it to him.

What are you reading now?
I read a lot of non-fiction: Money Land, The Secret Barrister come to mind recently. There are a lot of books about democracy, Brexit and mental health out there right now. Non-fiction tends to tap into the zeitgeist.

What are your top ten books?
Wow. An impossible task but thinking of books that have had a big impact on me at different times of my life, in no particular order, perhaps:
Birdsong (Sebastian Faulks)
Tinker Tailor, Soldier, Spy (John Le Carre)
Polar Star (Martin Cruz Smith)
Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow (Peter Hoeg)
The Constant Gardener (John Le Carre)
Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets (David Simon)
The Beach (Alex Garland)
Fantastic Mr Fox (Roald Dahl)
Shantaram (Gregory David Roberts)
The Godfather (Mario Puzo)

What’s your most treasured book on your bookcase?
Lion of Hollywood by Scott Eyman. It’s a biography of Louis Mayer and a huge influence on my first novel The Pictures. As Head of MGM, Louis Mayer was a controversial figure in movie history but this is quite a sympathetic portrayal. And the detail and understanding of the time is extraordinary. I’ve read countless books o the period but this really is a must-read for anyone interested in Classic Hollywood history.

THE SYNDICATE by Guy Bolton is published by Point Blank, an imprint of Oneworld, hardback  £16.99. Available now!