Friday, September 5, 2014

9mm interview with Stav Sherez (lost tapes)

As I mentioned last month, two years ago I had the pleasure of attending the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, England. It was a terrific few days, filled with great seminars, events, and social occasions. I caught up with several authors I knew or had interviewed, and met many more.

Recently I've rediscovered some interviews with some of those authors, that were recorded at the time but never published, for a variety of reasons and mishaps. So I now have some 'lost tapes' editions of 9mm spread over a couple of months. I'm really glad to be able to finally share these with you.

Today, for the 81st edition of 9mm, I'm sharing my interview with the talented Stav Sherez, who I first came across when I read THE BLACK MONASTERY, his second novel, a few years ago. Set on a Greek island that was full of history but had become a party destination for yobbish British tourists, THE BLACK MONASTERY was an evocative mystery thriller and very enjoyable read. He's since published a further two crime novels, A DARK REDEMPTION (his new one at the time of our interview), and last year's ELEVEN DAYS. Prior to becoming an author, Sherez was a music journalist.

Along with being a great writer, I found Sherez a real blast to interview. He's intelligent and quickwitted, and there were a lot of laughs and banter caught on the recording. Like the other 'lost tapes' I've found and transcribed recently, it's been a real pleasure to listen back over the interviews, which were great fun. Hopefully I've captured that sense of light-heartedness amongst some of the answers given.

But for now, Stav Sherez stares down the barrel of 9mm.

9MM: An interview with Stav Sherez

Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
I have to be clich├ęd for once and say it’s probably Jack Reacher or Harry Bosch. Jack Reacher mainly because he’s unlike any other character in fiction, I love the idea of him being a loner, drifter - he’s really the archetypal cowboy hero. That cowboy comes into town, he saves the people, then rides off. I love the idea of him roaming from town to town, having no connections, no family, and all of that. And I love his logical, deductive [way of thinking] – it’s almost Sherlock Holmesian, the way he uses deductive logic to work out what’s wrong with the scenario and how to deal with it. And Harry Bosch I just love, Michael Connelly’s hero, just his relentless quest for justice, and he’s such a cool character. That’s the life we’d want to live if we had alternative lives.

What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
I actually know this, because it was Carrie by Stephen King. The film had come out, I was about eight or nine years old, and I couldn’t go and see the film, and I was like obsessed by Sissy Spacek with the blood. And I found it in a charity shop, and I bought it, and I probably didn’t understand half of it, but I just went ‘wow, this is what I want to be, i want to be a writer’. It just opened up whole worlds to me, growing up in England, reading about America. And I still read Stephen King, I’ve been reading him for 30 years now, and I still love him. But he was the first one really that made me realise this is what I wanted to do.

Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
I’d had one novel which I’d written, sent to four and five people and got rejected. I’d been a music journalist for four or five years, but I’d always wanted to be a novelist, and everything else I did, the journalism and all that, was just a way to earn a bit of money. And I loved music so much as well, so mainly I was a music journalist.

Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
Not much - music, really. Listening: I’m not very musical so I love listening to it ‘cause I don’t understand it. Whereas books and films, I kind of deconstruct it, because we think about structure and character. Music blows me away, ‘cause it’s something I just can’t do. So literally my life is just music, coffee, cigarettes, and writing. That’s what I love... Grateful Dead, Springsteen, y’know.

What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
Oooh, London’s quite a hard one. Just walk around London, walking around London without a guidebook, you see all the layers of history from 15th century pubs to 21st century The Gherkin, all these buildings. You see all this wonderful history, and also the different neighbourhoods, it’s so hydrogenous and multi-cultural, in the best way possible. You turn a corner and you go from a Greek neighbourhood to a Spanish neighbourhood to an African neighbourhood. London is just a wonderful walking city, it’s like New York or Paris or Amsterdam in that way. So I’d say throw away your guidebook and just start walking. Don’t worry about getting lost, ‘cause getting lost is what you want to do. It’s lovely. It’s fascinating, I’m 41, I’ve lived there all my life, and there’s still areas I’ve never seen that I discover, London’s great like that.

If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
Ooh, that’s a good question, and a hard one. If I was really vain I’d say George Clooney, because I love George Clooney. But in reality, my God, maybe Mark Ruffalo who was in Zodiac, who I think is grand and has that slightly nervy thing that I seem to have. Mark Ruffalo crossed with Woody Allen... more anxious and hypochondriac, which I am, and death-obsessed-with and woman-obsessed-with, which I am too.

Of your books, which is your favourite, and why?
My favourite is probably my first, DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND, because it’s the one that when I was writing I had no idea what the publishing world wanted, what fans wanted. I was just writing because I wanted to write the kind of books that I loved reading, and I had no idea, it wasn’t even written as a crime book, even though it is a semi-crime novel. And it was just this beautiful freedom, with no deadlines or anything like that, and it was the first time in my writing career when I felt everything was coming together and I could make this into a novel, rather than short stories, which I had written before. I’d never been able to stretch it out until then. It was the first novel, so it’s like your first kid in a way. They’re all favourites for different reasons, but that one’s my favourite.

What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a bookseller’s shelf?
It was weirdly anti-climactic [seeing it in a bookstore], I thought ‘that’s nice’. But when I first got the deal, when I first got that phone call, I was watching a film, and I still remember this, my agent called – and I’d only been with her two weeks –and it was just disbelief, stunned disbelief. For two or three days I didn’t think it was real, then suddenly I realised “My God, this is what I’ve wanted my whole life”. It was wonderful. It was a year until the book got published, so I just celebrated, and just had fun for a year. Lot of alcohol.

What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
Sadly I don’t think I have many weird things. I like people asking me about anything, I don’t mind. I think the weirdest thing, initially, is just people coming up to you having read your book, after being unpublished and all that. People saying “I loved this bit”, finding people who get excited the way I get excited about other author’s books. At festivals I’m just as much of a fan. I see Gillian Flynn and I’m scared to talk to her because I loved her book so much, GONE GIRL, it’s amazing. So just having people moved by my books, good or bad... it’s not weird, but at the start it felt strange because it had just been in my head for so many years.

Thank you Stav Sherez. We appreciate you taking the time to chat to Crime Watch


You can read more about Stav Sherez and his novels here:


Comments welcome. 


  1. Thanks so much, Craig! It sure was fun!

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