Saturday, July 24, 2010

Great article on Theakstons winner RJ Ellory

As I noted yesterday, bound-for-New Zealand (on an upcoming author tour, which also takes in our neighbours across the Tasman in Australia) crime writer RJ Ellory has won the 2010 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award at this weekend's crime festival in Harrogate, beating out Crime Watch reader favourites like Tom Rob Smith (CHILD 44) and Mark Billingham (IN THE BLOOD). Ellory won for his novel A SIMPLE ACT OF VIOLENCE.

Today (NZT) there is a great article by Alison Flood in The Guardian, with some comments from RJ (Roger) Ellory following his Theakstons win, as well as some very interesting points about the nature and appreciation of crime writing. Flood opens by noting that after "winning four literary awards in France and one in the US, British author RJ Ellory has finally been rewarded in his own country". Ellory was reportedly "completely and utterly gobsmacked and speechless" at his win, after being nominated for several British awards in the past, but never winning.

Describing his style of writing, Ellory says, "The two best descriptions which have ever been levelled at me are that I write human dramas which have crime as a central issue, but are more to do with its consequences on bystanders. And in France one newspaper journalist said I wrote slow motion thrillers, which I thought was a great description".

I also particular like a section of the article where Ellory talks about the lack of strict divide between crime and literary fiction in places like France, and how crime can be about many things - there are so many issues that "you can thread through a crime novel that you can't do with other genres". This is a great point, and one which I've discussed with other crime writers like Gregg Hurwitz, Craig Russell, Linwood Barclay, James Lee Burke, PD James and others. It's something that is overlooked by many reviewers, literarati and academics etc who look down their noses at crime, but is realised by readers and writers.

Ellory says he uses crime to "create a canvas within which I can put my characters through the spectrum of human emotions. That's what fascinates me."

I must say, I'm getting more and more enthusiastic about Ellory's upcoming New Zealand visit - I think he will be wonderful to meet and interview. You can read Flood's full article (highly recommended) here.

So what do you think of RJ Ellory's response to his Theakston win? Of him finally winning an award in Britain? What do you think of his thoughts on crime being a prism for human emotion and stories of many types? I'd love to read your thoughts.

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