Thursday, 30 March 2017

Christopher Fowler - Wild Chamber Blog Tour

Today we welcome Christopher Fowler to our blog for the tour celebrating the latest of the Bryant and May books - crime stories about two ageing detectives and the Peculiar Crimes Unit that employs them. We have been fortunate to have had a visit from him before when he answered questions at the time of the launch of "London's Glory". Today's questions contain a few supplementaries from that visit. 

The Mole is currently reading Wild Chamber, which is the latest and wonders at how each book seems to get better and better.

With Bryant's cerebral approach, his not revealing his thinking, and his extensive range of 'expert' (if a little eccentric) contacts, I am reminded of George Smiley. Is there any Smiley in him?
I think he’s not as organised as Smiley. His thinking is untidier and more haphazard but there’s a real technique at work – not deductive but instinctive.

In a previous interview you said "...then Bryant & May are about how I’d like to be". Which of the two do you see yourself as?
I’m May. Bryant is my former business partner, so much so that I once put a photograph of him in one of the earlier books.

You said of London "... Before the mid-1980s it was a city steeped in shadows which bred criminality. We lost something when the lights were turned up and the CCTV was turned on". Surely much of the change then is for the better? But has London really changed that much or is it your perception of London that has changed?
No, London has transformed, and that’s perfectly natural. I grew up playing in the streets, sneaking into theatres off Piccadilly, diving into dodgy cinemas and generally getting into trouble with appalling people. London is less dangerous now if you keep your wits about you. But then my father, a teenager during the war, had to go through so many changes too, And his father was a typical London Victorian. We all have to roll with the changes. The trick is not becoming stuck in an era.

The 'Peculiar Crime Unit' investigates just that - Peculiar Crimes, but where do you get the ideas for those crimes from? Do you have a list of crime ideas for the new books or are the ideas hard to come by? I have a keen notebook fetish, and ideas get piled into those. 
Often I couple several ideas together and start connecting the dots – but it usually takes a final mad leap to join everything up, and the inspiration from that can come from anywhere – people, places, experiences mostly – and library research.

In a previous contribution to our blog you said of PD James' rule 'Read, write and don't daydream' - "This is possibly the worst advice imaginable" do you make time for daydreaming and do you have a special place to do it?
I daydream in parks and since a child I’ve always walked around new cities. Last year I went into the Carpathian mountains  in Transylvania to visit Vlad the Impaler’s castle, just to write a story about Dracula.

Of her rule 'Never talk about a book before it is finished' you said "No, no, no!" which does make perfect sense but who do you talk with about your work in progress? 
That’s the thing; you need a sympathetic ear, and I have several friends who are patient and kind, and offer their thoughts. People are quite timid about giving feedback to writers, as if we’re going to bite them!

Many thanks go, once again, to Christopher Fowler who took time out of a very busy timetable to talk to us.

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