Hi Mick, It’s great to welcome you to You’re Booked, and congratulations for being shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel Of The Year.
Joe Country is the sixth book in the fantastic Slough House Series. Could you share with us a little about the inspiration and circumstances for writing the book?
Joe Country was triggered by an image I had of a character lying dead beneath a tree on a snow-covered landscape. Plotting the novel, and then writing it, was a way of allowing that scene to take place. The writing took a little over a year.
What does being shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year mean to you?
It’s a huge thrill. Being on a shortlist that relies, in part, on the votes of readers will always gladden any author’s heart.
What are your feelings on the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year more generally?
The longlists for the Theakston provide an annual overview of what’s out there, and make an invaluable reading list for anyone wanting to explore the genre, and see what it’s capable of. A lot of the names will already be familiar, but there are always new voices among them. Anyone interested in the genre should await it eagerly.
Looking back now, what piece of advice would you have given to yourself at the beginning of your writing career?
Nothing exceptional. That writing’s a long game. That committing to it comes at a cost, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Can you remember the catalyst for you beginning to write your first book, whether that was picking up a pen and paper or making a firm start on your laptop?
The catalyst was the realisation that if I wanted to be a writer, I had to actually do the writing. Seems obvious, but it was a pivotal moment. I remember the room I was sitting in, the view through the window, the boring job I’d just arrived home from …
We’ve heard of some unusual writing habits over the years, what would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m delighted to report that I don’t have one.
To put you on the spot, we have to ask, apart from your own, do you have a favourite book on the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel Of The Year Award shortlist?
What a terrible question! They’re all great!
In this time of pandemic, books, reading and the arts have come to prominence in society with more people turning to crime fiction as their genre of choice than ever before. Why do you think this might be?
In terms of book sales, crime overtook other genres a year or so ago, I believe. That didn’t surprise me then, for the same reason that it doesn’t surprise me if that trend increases now: crime fiction, more often that not, offers the reader resolution. In uncertain times, of which we’ve had no shortage lately, that’s worth seeking out.
The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is not just a celebration of writers, but of the readers too, and of course to be a writer you have to enjoy reading. What does the pleasure of reading mean to you?
It goes beyond pleasure. It’s a need.
And finally, what’s next for Mick Herron?
I’m working on the next Slough House novel.