14 March 2012 0 Comments

Podcast: Crappy Jobs

Before I became a writer, I worked a number of crappy jobs. I hauled cement on my back, gleefully destroyed hospitals, ate meat pies, and watched homoerotic wrestling while draining a deep-fat fryer. And got paid badly for all of them. But without them, I wouldn’t be the writer I am. Download the Podcast: (Download […]

1 March 2012 0 Comments

Episodes in the Literary Life 2: Get Me to Fucking Manhattan

(This continues my series of autobiographical vignettes, intended to demonstrate the neuroses, ambition, talent, chance, mischance, place, and alcohol that go toward the creation of a writer. The tales may be instructive or proscriptive. This one, at least, is mainly about the alcohol part.) I quit drinking the day after I turned 27. On my […]

26 February 2012 0 Comments

Podcast: My Part in Rushdie’s Peril

When I was a very young journalist in London, I had the last interview with Salman Rushdie before Khomeini pronounced his fatwa against the writer. Unfortunately I was drunk. He was rude, and so was I. Here’s the story of how it happened. Download the Podcast: (Download the MP3) Subscribe via iTunes

16 February 2012 0 Comments

In Crime Fiction, Be Not Afraid

I just wrote an article for The Jerusalem Report about “What Israelis Fear Most.” Surprisingly, I found that Israelis didn’t fear being murdered by a psychopath or caught up in a case of mistaken identity which leads to them getting into car chases with the FBI on their tails. Surprisingly, that is, if you read […]

9 February 2012 2 Comments

Why did Marlowe go in the bar?

Mrs. Rees has given me two lovely kids. She has enjoyed the presence of my parents. She even visited Wales with me. But I was never quite sure of her. Because she had only read one Raymond Chandler novel. In an effort to make our marriage complete, I suggested this week she augment her reading […]

2 February 2012 2 Comments

Daniel Silva’s Funny Buggers

Any writer knows that things can go wrong sometimes. Characters start to get wooden. Scenes won’t come alive. But the slipperiest dilemma of all –– because it’s the one least likely to be obvious when you’re re-reading the manuscript –– is when certain words turn out to have unintended consequences. A fine example of this […]

26 January 2012 0 Comments

Break Elmore’s Rules

Elmore Leonard has 10 rules for writing. They don’t cover most of the important points of writing. They could really be called: Ten Rules for Writing That Isn’t So Bad, Even if You’re Not Much of Writer. Still the rules have been turned into a book and are quoted with something a little more mystical […]

25 January 2012 0 Comments

Podcast: Finding Truly Real Fiction

Writers usually decide to be writers before they know what they might write about. In my case, a journey from teenage isolation in Britain to the violence of the Middle East led me to the elements of my fiction which could be true — not just based on reality, but in the sense that they […]

29 December 2011 0 Comments

Crime Fiction’s Best First Paragraphs: 3

Georges Simenon wrote “L’Affaire Saint Fiacre” (“Maigret Goes Home”) in 1932. It’s one of the first of the 103 novels involved Inspector Jules Maigret. You can tell from books like this that the writer was a bit of a bastard. And we ought to be grateful for that. The opening of “Saint Fiacre” (I’m going […]

17 November 2011 6 Comments

Renko Rules

This is a crime fiction blog. So we ought to shoot straight. Here it is: there are lots of crappy detective novels out there. Which is why I say thank God for Arkady Renko. The hero of Martin Cruz Smith’s excellent series set in the Soviet Union and, later, Russia (with stops in Cuba, Ukraine, […]