This year I 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. It's really cool to be able to finally share these with you.
Today, for the 84th edition of 9mm, I'm sharing my interview with British crime writer Steve Mosby, who was a completely 'new to me' author when I attended Harrogate in 2012. That's one of the fantastic things about attending such events - getting exposed to other extremely talented authors well worth adding to the reading list. Mosby is a little like New Zealand's Paul Cleave, in that he is critically acclaimed and wins awards but is not yet as appreciated by the wider reading public in his home country, while at the same time being hugely popular overseas, including in crime fiction 'canary in the coal mine' Germany.
This year at the Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival Mosby, who has eight thrillers under his belt and has won the CWA Dagger in the Library, took the helm of proceedings as festival chair, helping put this year's programme together over many months. From all reports, it was an awesome festival this year, so well done to Steve on his efforts. But for now, let's revisit him staring down the barrel of 9mm.
9MM: An interview with Steve Mosby
It’s really hard for me to pick a favourite. I’m a big fan of Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne, he’s really really good. If I had to pick an absolute favourite, I’d probably pick TV’s Cracker, Robbie Coltrane, and Prime Suspect, Jane Tennyson (played by Helen Mirren). With Cracker it was the psychological side of it, and I really liked the character, who was a boozer and a gambler, and unapologetically a horrible person in a way. I really liked the psychological side of it. With Prime Suspect, it’s just really well written stuff, and she’s such a strong female character.
What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
I probably wouldn’t be able to pick a single one, but I could say the author, which would be Diana Wynne Jones, who’s a children’s author, of fantasy. There was a book she wrote called POWER OF THREE which I really really loved, and ARCHER’S GOON, and THE MAGICIANS OF CAPRONa, and I could go on forever... It was just brilliant storytelling, and so engaging, especially as a child the stories were enthralling. I re-read them recently, and as a writer now I just marvel at how beautifully put together they are, how lean, and just so interesting. The kid in me still loves the stories.
Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
I’d done a few short stories, a few small press horror stories, all horror stories with a science fiction element. Novel wise, I finished my first novel when I was 17. It was rubbish obviously, it doesn’t exist anymore – my parents may have a copy somewhere. Then I wrote another six or seven that were unpublished as well. So it was about my eighth which was finally taken by an agent. Very much a steep learning curve.
Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
Well I’ve got a two and a half year old son, so not so much leisure at all. I used to like the usual things like going to the cinema, but it’s so hard to do that now. I like to get out and work, we live fairly in the countryside. Go to the gym, exercise, music, try to play the guitar.
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?
My hometown is Leeds, and I think the best thing about Leeds is it has a really concentrated city centre, which is good for shopping, but then like five minutes out of the city centre ou’re in the countryside. So the best thing to do if you’re visiting I think is to explore the city centre, which has a really good music scene actually, loads and loads of good music in the evening, loads of things to experience. But then try to get out and see some of the scenery. The moors and things like that. It’s just really really nice.
If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
Oh my, someone desperate who wasn’t really famous and would take any part? I don’t know, I’m not really sure who looks like me. I (un)kindly got compared to a guy called Curly Watts, who is on Coronation Street, and when I’ve got longer hair I also get sort of a Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe, though I stand a bit taller than him. Though if Tom Cruise can play Reacher, then he can play me.
It would have to be THE 50:50 KILLER, it was my third, and I think it’s the book where I sort of figured out what I was doing. I’m still figuring it out now, but that was the book when certain things came together and I thought ‘yeah this is the kind of thing I want to write’. And it opened a lot of doors for me actually, it was sort of a reasonably successful book which allowed me to write full-time. So I have a lot of affection for that.
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’s a really interesting question. I think loads of writers starting out will be really looking forward to seeing that physical copy in a bookstore and it is exciting when you go into a bookstore and see it. It is exciting, but then you look at the hundreds and thousands of other titles around it and your little book suddenly looks very lonely. But yeah, it was a massively good feeling to see that. How’d I celebrate? I was living in a studio flat, I couldn’t pay my council tax, and I had the bailiffs after me, and it wasn’t a particularly good time in my life, so I think I probably whooped a bit. Hardcore whooping.
What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
I haven’t actually done that many book signings. There are so many weird things that happen at book festivals, but you know, what happens at festivals stays at festivals. Actually last night, I was up at 3 o’clock in the morning, and we were outside, and a man in his underpants came running past. That was all he was wearing. We don’t know what it was, he was running back and forth trying to get into the hotel, and it was one of the weirdest sights I’ve seen. But if I thought about it for long enough there’s probably even weirder things.
Thank you Steve. We appreciate you taking the time to chat to Crime Watch.
You can read more about Steve Mosby and his books here:
- "Watch out, Mosby's carrying a blade" - feature by Mike McCann in The Guardian
- Q&A with Shots magazine
- Author interview in Spinetingler magazine
- The Left Room (author website)