Saturday, July 31, 2010

My TWO articles in the Canvas magazine of today's Weekend Herald (New Zealand's biggest newspaper)

It was certainly a nice way to start what is a lovely blue-skied winter weekend here in Auckland, by popping out to the dairy (our term for a convenience store, for those with a puzzled expression on their faces) to pick up the weekend newspaper.

After a bit of a hiatus, I've started writing author features for the Weekend Herald (the weekend edition of the largest-circulation newspaper in New Zealand) again. In fact, I've got several features coming out over the next few weeks. It's great to see crime fiction getting decent coverage in such an important Kiwi newspaper - UK-based Stephen Jewell also regularly writes some great crime fiction author interviews for the Canvas magazine (the glossy lifestyle etc supplement to the Weekend Herald that includes the books section).

I've also started with a bit of a bang. In this weekend's Canvas, I have TWO articles; a large feature on mystery maestro James Lee Burke (pictured above), and a book review of THE FALLEN, the debut thriller from nascent Kiwi crime writer Ben Sanders, a 20-year-old Auckland engineering student, that is released this coming week.

If you're in the northern part of New Zealand, I hope you grab a copy of the Weekend Herald and have a read. Let me know what you think. It was an absolute privilege to interview James Lee Burke, and I only help my feature, "Philosopher of Crime" does the old master justice.

As for those of you outside of the Herald's distribution area, as I noted recently thanks to the generosity of Linda Herrick, the Books Editor for the Herald, I am now able to republish my Canvas magazine articles on Crime Watch (as its a glossy supplement, the articles usually aren't put online by the Herald). As such, I will republish the full James Lee Burke feature "Philosopher of Crime" here later this week. In the meantime, to give you taste, here's a short snippet from my story:

"Burke’s eighteenth and latest Robicheaux novel, The Glass Rainbow (released in New Zealand next week), is ostensibly the reason for our interview, but just like his rich and layered tales themselves, my conversation with Burke ends up being a bit deeper and more philosophical, and laced with history, politics, social commentary, and literary references.

Throughout, the 73-year-old laughs easily and often, almost explosively at times. He is unfailing polite, yet not at all stuffy or formal. He answers the phone with a jovial “Is this New Zealand calling?” then tells me to call him “Jim”. Down-to-earth and humble, his soft-spoken manner and measured cadence belie some strident opinions when it comes to several things he cares deeply about, including the environment, “people of humble origin”, and the purpose and importance of art."

As for my review of Ben Sanders' debut, THE FALLEN, I really enjoyed his first Sean Devereaux tale. Regardless of his age, it's very slick and well-written crime, with some very nice touches throughout. Hopefully readers here will give it a go; I think they'll be pleased if they do.

You can read a synopsis/blurb for THE FALLEN here.

As with the James Lee Burke feature, I will republish my Weekend Herald review of THE FALLEN online here on Crime Watch later this coming week.

In the meantime, here's my concluding comment from the 500+ word review: "The young man from the North Shore has added to the mounting evidence that New Zealand can produce native, compelling crime fiction to match the international offerings readers buy and enjoy in droves".

Come on - did any of you really expect me to write a review of a well-written Kiwi crime novel for the biggest newspaper in the country (who rarely do such longer reviews of crime titles - usually just doing snippet round-ups) without getting in a comment about the state of the genre here in general? I couldn't resist, especially since it's 100 % true.


So, what do you think of my double-feature, so to speak, in Canvas/The Weekend Herald today? Are you a James Lee Burke fan? Do you like crime writers who layer in more than just fast-moving plot and action? Do you like the sound of THE FALLEN? Is Kiwi crime really on the rise, or am I just deluded? I'd love to read what you think. Please share your thoughts.


  1. Congratulations! Nice work, indeed.

    JLB is a personal writing god. I'm convinced that one day his work will be required reading at American universities.

  2. Thanks Naomi, I hope you enjoy the full feature - I'll publish it here on Crime Watch later this coming week. And yes, American Unis could do a lot worse than to have a fair bit of Burke on their reading lists

  3. I wish we could get The Weekend Herald in Dunedin! I'll look forward to your full posting of them later.

    How do you get time to do your job, read all the books and interview the people? Oh and organise new crime writing awards, and go to festivals and read yet more review books, and blog, we can't forget blog. You make me tired just thinking about it!

  4. Well done Craig. I'm also impressed about the amount of work that you can put together. That's remarkable.

  5. I enjoyed Ben's book - only a couple very minor nit picks which probably got caught by the editor (I had a proof copy). But I think we can expect great things from Ben.

    Does he have a website? He should have one. I know a guy who does author's websites.


  6. Yeah, I had a proof too David - so when I read those I tend to concentrate a bit more on the overall story, characters, dialogue and way they evoke setting etc. I don't tend to let the little things bother me quite so much with proofs - not that there were many in THE FALLEN anyway.