Today I’m pleased to welcome Christopher Fowler to the blog. Christopher is the best selling author of the Bryant and May series. The latest instalment, Bryant and May: London’s Glory was published by Doubleday on 5 November 2015 and features a collection of short stories giving more insight into the detective duo. Christopher kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Bryant and May: London’s Glory.
Conan Doyle started a tradition of writing up the missing cases of his consulting detective, and I thought it would be a nice idea for a Christmas compendium. I wrote up different types of investigations from period-set tales to locked-room mysteries and added other elements, like character studies and even the contents of Bryant’s bookcase. It was a lot of fun. We even put in a cutaway drawing of the crime unit’s building!
2. As well as the popular Bryant and May series you have also written a number of other novels covering a range of things from horror to memoir. What are the benefits and down sides to writing a series and if you can pick, do you have a favourite?
The upside is coming home to characters you really like and exploring them more each time. The downside is keeping a record of everything you’ve done so far, and how all the characters interact. It’s also important to me that new readers can start anywhere without feeling lost, so I’m careful to make the books accessible.
3. You’ve achieved many things in your career: a multitude of best sellers, a critically acclaimed graphic novel story, been nominated for and won many literary prizes, had your novels optioned by Hollywood heavyweights and had a short story made into a film. What do you think your greatest achievement is, one of these or the Christmas single or the James Bond stand in moment?
Let’s not talk about the Christmas single! Probably getting my memoirs Paperboy and Film Freak published in time for my mum to read them, to show her that I didn’t entirely go to waste!
4. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel?
They say writers are either mappers or gardeners. I’m definitely a gardener – chuck the seeds out and see what grows. It’s the best way to make your characters organic. The first draft usually takes about three months, but the most fun comes in the second draft, when I put in all the crazy character stuff. If I’m having fun with it, it goes much faster.
5. There’s a quote on your website from Time Out that says ‘Christopher Fowler is an award-winning novelist who would make a good serial killer.’ What kind of serial killer would you be, a Dexter who kills the bad guys or a Patrick Bateman who just kills?
Neither; I’m afraid I’m a very gentle man and would be a rubbish killer. I’d be able to come up with a lot of good alibis though!
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life what book would that be?
Blimey, a tough one, but for rereadability, probably ‘Our Mutual Friend’ or ‘Bleak House’ – or ‘Gormenghast’.
7. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. You must have answered a fair few questions during your writing career. What question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
Nobody ever asks me what I’ve learned. I’ve learned to listen more and talk less, to have the courage of my convictions and never compromise. Nobody wants a tombstone that reads; ‘He delivered on time.’
About the book
“In every detective’s life there are cases that can’t be discussed, and throughout the Bryant & May novels there have been mentions of some of these such as the Deptford Demon or the Little Italy Whelk Smuggling Scandal.
Now Arthur Bryant has decided to open the files on eleven of these previously unseen investigations that required the collective genius and unique modus operandi of Arthur Bryant and John May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit – investigations that range from different times (London during the Great Smog) and a variety of places: a circus freak show, on board a London Tour Bus and even a yacht off the coast of Turkey.
And in addition to these eleven classic cases, readers are also given a privileged look inside the Peculiar Crimes Unit (literally, with a cut away drawing of their offices), a guide to the characters of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, and access to the contents of Arthur Bryant’s highly individual library.”