Mark Billingham Quotes.
Too much research can be the writer’s enemy. You can spend days on end in the British Library or prowling the streets with a Dictaphone, and it’s easy to convince yourself that you’re working hard. Often, it can be an excuse not to work; a classic displacement activity.
When a crime writer thinks up a delicious twist, it is a great moment. Time to relax and take the rest of the day off. I do think that it can be overdone, however.
When you think of a great twist or a red herring or a way of misdirecting the reader, it is good, but you know that they are just tricks at the end of the day, and the way to keep interest is to write characters that people care about.
I’d read one too many crime novels where the victim was just a name: body number one, dead woman number 12. I understood fear, and I wanted to create characters who made readers say, ‘Please, don’t hurt this guy.’ That’s the key to suspense. It’s easy to disgust a reader. It’s much harder to make them care.
I find traveling anywhere very stressful. If I ever have to go on tour, I tend to find it all a bit too stressful. I am too much of a control freak with traveling, and nothing is ever on time. The one thing I can’t stand is being late.
In America, they have specialist mystery book stores with whole sections devoted to cat mysteries, golf mysteries, quilting mysteries. It’s a hugely broad genre from the darkest noir to tales of a 19th-century vet who solves crimes, thanks to his talking cat.
Part of the reason why Scandinavian crime has been so popular is the landscape. It is just so strong and alien. Although without taking anything away, you should probably also never discount the fact that blood does look particularly good against snow.
Crime is the biggest genre in libraries and in bookshops, and it is hugely varied.
I often wonder, with my hand on my heart, if ‘The Dying Hours’ was made into the biggest movie franchise in history, would I pick up my pen again? Wouldn’t I be happier spending the rest of my life travelling around with my wife?
What I usually do is hoard money – I accumulate as much as possible in the fear of not having enough to pay tax.
I think it’s very easy to disgust the reader with violence on the page – that’s incredibly easy – but it’s far harder to make a reader care about a character.
If you’re looking for an author who can deliver high-octane thrills every time and a character who is NOT to be messed with, you’ve found them. ZoГ« Sharp and Charlie Fox both kick ass.
Whenever people ask where I get my sick and twisted ideas from, I reply, ‘Just open your eyes.’
I’ve often said the reader knows every bit as much about Thorne as I do. When I created him for ‘Sleepyhead,’ I was determined he should be a character who would develop, book by book, change and grow as we all do, and who – crucially – would be unpredictable.
More than 100 years after he first appeared, Holmes remains the template for the fictional detective.
I’ve never read an ebook. Print every time.
I think women tend to write about how violence feels, whereas men tend to write about what violence looks like.
I’m a city boy. I grew up in a big city, in Birmingham, and I want to write about a city. It’s much richer tapestry for me than green fields. Fields and wild life make me feel ill. I don’t like – I don’t want to write about that stuff.
I could never gamble on stocks and shares because I saw my father get hurt that way – he lost quite a lot of money when the stock market collapsed in 2001.
I admire writers such as Elmore Leonard who can nail a character in three or four lines of dialogue, so he doesn’t need pages of back story or clumsy exposition.
Crime fiction has always been what I wanted to read, so when I sat down to write my first book, it was naturally the way that I was going to go.
When I began to write, I was surprised at how little London had been used in crime fiction. Places such as Edinburgh or Oxford or L.A. seemed to have stronger identities.
The problem with being a writer is that some readers tend to think that anything that comes out of a character’s mouth is you talking.
A reader’s own imagination is a far more powerful form of CGI than anything any movie can provide because it’s unique. In your own imagination, you can enter all sorts of worlds, and they are unique to you because no other reader will interpret a book the same way.
My dad was a terrible father. Dreadful. But he had a very difficult childhood. He was fostered – he never knew who his father was. So he had a very different attitude to family and kids. I don’t have any issues. I’m not suffering some secret angst.
I used to be something of an obsessive when it came to research. When I first began writing the Thorne novels, I would drive to a set of traffic lights in the early hours of the morning to make sure you could turn left. I thought it was important to get even the most trivial details right.
Having worked as both comedian and crime writer, the one thing I know is that both involve the delivery of a performance.
London now has its own John Grisham.
I believe that if writers want their readers to care about a character, they have to care themselves. I have to root for a detective who screws up as much as Thorne does, who shares my birthday, my North London stomping ground, and my love of country music, both alt and cheesy.
An actor’s life is all about rejection. It’s you they don’t want; it’s you who’s too tall or too short or too fat. With stand-up, it doesn’t matter what you look like.
I think readers’ imaginations are far more powerful than anything you can put on a page and, therefore, can conjure up graphic images for themselves, which I think you just have to nudge them towards.
There are a number of writers who believe it is their duty to throw as many curve balls at the reader as possible. To twist and twist again. These are the Chubby Checkers of crime fiction and, while I admire the craft, I think that it can actually work against genuine suspense.
The fact is that most crime novels contain a good many punchlines. They are just rather darker than the ones you might hear in a comedy club.
I discovered reading through libraries. I grew up in a house that wasn’t brimming with books.
I’ve always slightly preferred Spade to Marlowe, probably just because I thought Hammett was cooler than Chandler. He was leftwing, his name shortened to Dash rather than Ray, and he didn’t smoke a pipe or like cats.
While the subject matter of my novels could not be further removed from the stuff I used to trot out at the Comedy Store, the delivery of the material employs many of the same techniques.
If the weather is nice, I play tennis, which is pretty much the only exercise that I do. I try to do that as much as I can.