Tuesday, March 3, 2015

9mm interview with Adam Christopher

Welcome to the latest issue of 9mm, where a crime writer answers nine quickfire questions about themselves, giving all of us a chance to get to know them, and their writing, a little better.

Today I'm very pleased to share my recent interview with UK-based New Zealand author Adam Christopher, who has previously published superhero-inspired futuristic/sci-fi thriller stories but has now turned to more clear-cut crime fiction - in fact, one of crime fiction's most famous characters - with his latest novel ELEMENTARY: THE GHOST LINE (Titan Books). Christopher's novel, which was released on Friday, is a novelisation of the hit US television series Elementary, which is a modern and quite distinct take on Sherlock Holmes, starring Jonny Lee Miller as the famed detective and Lucy Liu as his sidekick, Watson.

Christopher grew up in West Auckland, before moving to the UK in 2006. Working as a medical writer, his debut novel, EMPIRE STATE (Angry Robot, 2012) featured a private detective going up against some superheroes in a parallel-universe, Prohibition-era version of New York City. Christopher has said he was inspired to write the tale after reading Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, and combined a noir atmosphere with his love for sci-fi and comics. He particularly loves mainstream superheroes, and is also a big Doctor Who fan, editing the New Zealand Doctor Who Fanclub's Time-Space Visualiser fanzine from 2003 to 2009, winning a Sir Julius Vogel award for best fan publication in 2010.

EMPIRE STATE went on to be named SciFiNow’s Book of the Year and a Financial Times Book of the Year for 2012. That love for noir and New York has circled back around with ELEMENTARY: THE GHOST LINE, where Christopher is given the opportunity to write about another world-famous fictional character, Sherlock Holmes. But for now, Adam Christopher stares down the barrel of 9mm.


Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective? 
I’ll have to pick two, in two different media: Batman, and Sherlock Holmes. Batman is the world’s greatest detective, let’s not forget, but I’m sure Holmes would have something to say about that (and they have actually met a few times). I also have a soft spot for Carnacki the Ghost-Finder, an occult detective who stars in the short stories of Edwardian writer William Hope Hodgson.

What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?  
I suspect it must be one of the many Doctor Who Target novelisations by Terrance Dicks. Growing up in the 1980s, my primary school had a very up-to-date collection of them, which I devoured almost the exclusion of all other books. It’s hard to pinpoint one book in particular but the one that sticks in my mind is The Abominable Snowmen. I can still remember individual lines from the book!

Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles 
Up until now I’ve written mostly science fiction and urban fantasy - ELEMENTARY: THE GHOST LINE is my sixth published novel. I tend to stick to novel-length fiction as I find short stories so hard to write! I’m also co-writing a comic, The Shield, with Chuck Wendig as part of Archie’s new Dark Circle Comics imprint.

Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise? 
I’m a total TV junkie. I tend to stick to genre shows and my current favourites, aside from Elementary, include Person of Interest, Justified, Arrow, The Flash, Agent Carter. But I’m also a fan of the classics - Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, The Avengers. I’m also not ashamed to admit I adore Nashville.

I’m also a bit of a casual console gamer, but most of my time outside work I spend reading. And reading. And reading. And reading.

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 (ie is not a famous, Lonely Planet kind of thing)? 
Well, my hometown is Auckland, and I’m pretty sure most things are in a tourist brochure of some kind. Whenever I get back there I like to go to Mission Bay and sit on the beach and… do nothing. And then get ice cream. And keep doing nothing for as long as possible.

If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you? 
Adam West.

Of your books, which is your favourite, and why? 
I like THE AGE ATOMIC, because it was my first sequel and it was my chance to fix a bunch of little niggles in the first book, EMPIRE STATE. But I’m currently juggling three favourites in my mind - ELEMENTARY: THE GHOST LINE, and also MADE TO KILL, which comes out in November. I love MADE TO KILL, and I love the novelette prequel, BRISK MONEY. These kick off The LA Trilogy, three books about a robot detective in 1960s Hollywood. They’re lots of fun.

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? 
Getting published was a dream come true, and I got “The Call” for my first novel on my birthday. So that’ll be a day I’ll remember forever! It’s always a thrill when someone says “yes” - the default state of the writer is one of rejection, and no matter how many books you have had published or stories you have had accepted, people will still say “no”, and they’ll say it a lot. So any acceptance is worthy of celebration!

What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival? 
I have to say the events I've done have all run smoothly—so far, anyway! For the launch of my novel THE BURNING DARK last year, my publisher made jello shots with a very strong strawberry liquor. That was a fun night—there I was, reading from this horror science fiction novel while the audience scooped jello from little plastic shot glasses. And the thing about the shots was that you really didn’t realize how alcoholic they were until you’d had way, way too many…

Thank you Adam, we appreciate you taking the time to chat to Crime Watch. 


You can read more about Adam Christopher and his writing here: 


What do you think of the idea of sci-fi blended with crime fiction? Superhero noir and futuristic thrillers? What about novelisations of television shows or movies? Comments welcome. 

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