One night out sleuthing Fledgling Auckland writer Ben Atkins talks to Craig Sisterson about the crime novel he has been working on since he was 15
Bizarrely extreme. These are the words that spring to 20-year-old novelist Ben Atkins' mind when he ponders the Prohibition era compared to his own experience of contemporary society. Yet in some ways, he says, the periods are quite similar. "The parallels between the economic crises of 1929 and 2008 and the political radicalism they fostered are very interesting."
As the University of Auckland politics, film and media student worked on what would become Drowning City, a tale he began penning as a 15-year-old, Atkins' growing interest in such broader political and philosophical questions came into play.
"I thought it would be nice to frame a story about organised crime in that context," he explains. "The Prohibition was a time of phenomenal social and political hypocrisy ... It's fascinating to consider the ethicality of prohibition, of criminal law, of economics, politics, social norms, democracy, fascism and communism, all at once. The 1930s is perfect for an exploration of those issues through fiction - through the perspectives of a range of individuals."