Sunday, August 20, 2017

9mm interview: Simon Booker

Welcome to the latest instalment in the 9mm series! I'm very grateful to all the terrific crime writers who've generously given their time over the past few years. You can see the full index of author interviews here. If you've got a favourite author who hasn't yet featured, leave a comment, and I'll make it happen.

Today, I'm very pleased to welcome author and screenwriter Simon Booker to Crime Watch. Simon is the author of the Morgan Vine series, centred on an investigative journalist, as well as having written crime drama and other stories for British and American television and radio. His television credits include writing for The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (based on Elizabeth George's character and books), and The Mrs Bradley Mysteries (based on the books by Golden Age mystery writer Gladys Mitchell, an early member of the famed Detection Club).

So Booker has plenty of crime writing pedigree, even before he made the leap from screen to page. His first novel, WITHOUT TRACE, was released last year, the first in a series of psychological thrillers featuring Morgan Vine, an investigative journalist who specialises in miscarriages of justice.

Now Morgan Vine has returned in KILL ME TWICE, where the journalist is begged by a woman in prison for murder and arson to prove her innocence. She says her ex is still alive. Is he?

Booker has said he hopes that his Morgan Vine series may eventually end up onscreen too, which would be a nice 'coming full circle' for the screenwriter turned author.

But for now, Simon Booker becomes the 168th crime writer to stare down the barrel of 9mm.


1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
Has to be Sherlock Holmes. I started reading Conan Doyle when I was 12, fascinated by Holmes’s powers of deduction. Still am.

2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde, again when I was young – maybe about eight. I think it might have been a tape, rather than a book, but it was my first introduction to melancholy.

3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
I started writing for The Observer when I was 15 and have been writing ever since – prime time TV drama including ITV and BBC shows like THE INSPECTOR LYNLEY MYSTERIES, THE MRS BRADLEY MYSTERIES starring Diana Rigg and Neil Dudgeon, and US rom-coms, such as PERFECT STRANGERS, starring Rob Lowe and Anna Friel. I’ve also written many plays for Radio 4 and worked as a freelance journalist for The Observer, Guardian, Sunday Times etc…

4. Outside of writing, touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
My partner is also a crime writer (Mel McGrath). We live in London but have a seaside writing bolt hole in Deal, Kent, where we go for long windswept walks. Otherwise, we mostly coo pathetically over our cat, Minou, who we adore to distraction (see photo attached)

5. 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?
Just walk in London. Everywhere. Best city on earth. (Sorry, New York, your weather is terrible three months of the year, you have very few green spaces, and can’t begin to compete when it comes to history and architecture).

6. If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
I’ve been told I resemble Bill Murray. (Sorry, Bill.)

7. Of your books, which is your favourite, and why (not which you think is best, but which has a special meaning, for whatever reason)?
My first book WITHOUT TRACE – just because it was the first. There’s nothing like holding the first copy of your first novel for the first time.

8. 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?
Having my first radio play plucked from the Radio 4 slush pile was a champagne moment, and there have been many more since – TV and books – and I hope more to come.

9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you…

Thanks Simon, we appreciate you chatting to Crime Watch

You can read more about Simon Booker at his website, and follow him on Twitter.

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