Q&A with Mick Herron:
We like to start our interviews by asking our authors to introduce themselves. Can you tell our readers a little about yourself?
I’m the author of the Slough House novels, about a bunch of failed spies. I write full time, and I live in Oxford.
When did you start writing fiction? What made you want to start the long, often arduous, process of writing a book?
I’ve been writing fiction for as long as I remember – I started young, stopped for a while, then started again. Like most forms of addiction, it’s easier to give in to than struggle against. Writing a novel can indeed be arduous, but I’d find not writing much more difficult.
What’s the most difficult part of writing a crime book?
Starting. When a book’s unwritten, it’s perfect. Starting to write it means accepting that you’re going to mess up again.
One thing we always love to know, what does your typical writing day look like?
It mostly looks like an indolent man going to some lengths to avoid doing any work … A lot of the process involves mulling and musing, and even the actual writing is often a matter of staring at a screen rather than resorting to the keyboard. But however busy or otherwise I appear to be, I’m only those things between the hours of 10 and 4. The rest of the time, I’m off duty.
We’ve heard of some unusual writing habits over the years, what would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I wish I had one!
Which writers have influenced your own writing the most?
Hard to say … Influences are more often noticed by readers that writers, I think. I’m probably mostly under the sway of the authors of the innumerable novels I read between the ages of, say, 12 and 20. The majority of them, I’ve long forgotten. But their legacy lives on, in an undefinable sort of way.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Casting Off.
What did winning the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award mean to you?
So much, so much … I genuinely felt that being on the short list was achievement enough, given the high standard set by my colleagues. To be lucky enough to carry off the award, though … That’s a career highlight.
What advice do you have for any aspiring future winners of the Award?
Never write books with the aim of winning an award! Write each for its own sake, and find as much joy in the process as you can. But read, too… Reading the Award’s short lists from the past few years will give some idea of the breadth of the genre, and how open it is to new voices and fresh perspectives. That’s something to take encouragement from. There’s always room for new talent.
What’s next for you?
There’s a short story appearing in late November – a Slough House Christmas tale called “Standing by the Wall” – and I’m working on a standalone novel called The Secret Hours. It should appear in September 2023.