Monday, May 08, 2006

An Interview with Andrew Holmes

Andrew Holmes is the author of 64 CLARKE - a book I very much recommend to anyone in search of a well-written, exciting and thoroughly entertaining piece of crime fiction (I feel happy describing it as 'crime' now - see Andrew's answers below). I reviewed it here.

Although Andrew is another Sceptre author we have never met - I have encountered him only virtually as the maestro in charge of the SANTA MIX which was so much fun. Incidentally the last Santa is now up on Andrew's 64 CLARKE BLOG - and well worth a visit if you want to find out about the musical tastes of literary luminaries such as David Mitchell, Hari Kunzru and Matt Thorne...and a lot of other cool cats (am I showing my age here, I wonder..?).

Andrew is a graduate of the Leicestershire comprehensive school system - so we have that in common. Incidentally I feel rather proud of my education - my teachers were idealistic and believed strongly that the same opportunities to learn should be available for all regardless of wealth, racial background and where they lived - or how influential their parents were. It is something that appears to have been forgotten recently by a certain socialist government.

But enough of that, back to the matter in hand. Andrew tells me his main interests are in music and film. He began his career as a reporter for his local newspaper before a move to London where he worked in consumer magazines, among them DJ Magazine, Muzik, FHM and Mondo. In order to concentrate on his novels he became a freelancer and wrote his debut novel, SLEB, which was shortlisted for the WH Smith New Talent Award. He has since written ALL FUR COAT and 64 CLARKE. He is now working on a new novel, UNLIMITED TRIPS TO THE BUFFET. He is married, and has a son.


CD: Do you have any connection with snails?
AH: No connection as such, I’m afraid, although I’ve heard that you can stop snails eating your garden by offering them beer. I, too, will not eat your garden if you offer me a drink.

CD: What is your proudest moment?
AH: The birth of my son, Dylan, although I was much prouder of my wife than of myself (and of Dylan, of course). I suppose in an all-my-own-work sort of way, the publication of (first novel) Sleb.

CD: Have you ever had a life-changing event - if so what was it?
The birth of Dylan again. Nothing prepares you, etc.

CD: If there was one thing you’d change about yourself what would it be?
AH: I’d give myself the desire to travel. I tend to live quite an internal, nerdy life – I’m most happy with music, books, comics, DVDs and stuff, so I always feel slightly resentful if I have to go anywhere. I’m missing out on things, I know.

CD: What is happiness?
AH: Not having anything to do.

CD: What is the first thing you do when you get up?
Worry about what I have to do that day.

CD: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
AH: Yes.

CD: I read about the origin of the white van and the speaker sellers on your website. Where do your other characters come from? Have you ever encountered anyone like Chick or Sophie?
AH: Chick is based on a guy I once saw taking money from homeless people at a cash machine. He’d hover nearby, wait until someone gave money to the homeless guy there, and then swoop in and demand it.

CD: 64 Clarke has a particularly strong plot - but the characters are well-portrayed as well. How do you usually write your books? Do you consider yourself to be a plot-driven author or a character-driven one? Which do you think of first - plot or character?
AH: It’s too much of a patchwork to say definitively, but I think the plot probably comes, and I then try and staff that with cool, interesting and believable characters. Although Chick (above) was an exception.

CD: Would you say that your books fit into the crime genre?
AH: I really hope so, although they never get marketed that way.

CD: You also work as a freelance journalist. Do you find that the two occupations support each other?
AH: Financially, the freelance journalism supports the writing. In terms of inspiration, definitely. As a novelist it’s really important to get out and about, as you can tend to get a closeted (as I’m sure you know). Just getting on the Tube is inspiration.

CD: What inspires you most to write?
AH: Worry.


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