Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reflecting on 2010: The 9mm interview series

I realise I've somewhat missed or am rather late on the very end of 2010/very start of 2011 boat when it comes to doing that New Year-ish reflecting and then prognosticating on last year and the year ahead, respectively - given my four week semi-hiatus from Crime Watch over the festive season. However, I've decided to still (belatedly) join in the fun.

So today I'm looking back on one of the additions to Crime Watch in 2010: the 9mm quickfire author interview series. Hopefully you have been enjoying reading more about some famous and not-yet-so-famous crime and thriller writers, and their varied responses to the same 9mm questions they each get asked. For me it has certainly been a fun series, and has encouraged me to interview even more authors than I get the chance to speak with due to newspaper or magazine articles.

If Crime Watch readers have been enjoying, and continue to enjoy the series, I will certainly look to continue and build it even further in 2011. The series started with a bang back in late March 2010 with my 9mm interview with one of the world's biggest-selling crime writers, Lee Child, who kicked things off by saying that John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee was his all-time favourite recurring crime fiction character. McGee, incidentally, has been tabbed to be played by none other than Leonardo DiCaprio in an upcoming film adaptation.

Over the eight months from late March to November 2010, a further 43 interviewees 'stared down the barrel' of the 9mm. So that's not too bad a strike-rate, at more than one interview per week, on average. Overall I felt the series also did fairly well in terms of one of my other goals (of mixing up the big-name international bestsellers with local authors and lesser-knowns from New Zealand and overseas). I would like to say thank you to all the authors who've generously given their time to be part of the series, and answered all the 9mm questions, no matter how random they may have seemed at times.

The 44 published 9mm interviews thusfar are:
  1. Lee Child
  2. Paddy Richardson
  3. Jack Kerley
  4. Paul Cleave
  5. Margot Kinberg
  6. Vanda Symon
  7. Dennis Palumbo
  8. Andrew Grant
  9. Rob Kitchin
  10. Linwood Barclay
  11. Lou Allin
  12. Declan Burke
  13. Craig Russell
  14. Joan Druett
  15. Martin Edwards
  16. Shamini Flint
  17. Gregg Hurwitz
  18. C. George Muller
  19. John Connolly
  20. Roy Vaughan
  21. Mark Billingham
  22. Stuart MacBride
  23. Michael Koryta
  24. David Carnoy
  25. Stella Duffy
  26. Faye Kellerman
  27. Alix Bosco
  28. PD James
  29. Mark Gimenez
  30. Lisa Unger
  31. Peter James
  32. Leighton Gage
  33. Sophie Hannah
  34. Cat Connor
  35. Michael Robotham
  36. Val McDermid
  37. Rick Mofina
  38. Joyce Yarrow
  39. James Lee Burke
  40. Donna Malane
  41. RJ Ellory
  42. Simon Kernick
  43. Michael Connelly
  44. Yvonne E. Walus

  • In a tight race, Dave Robicheaux is the crime writer's crime fighter, so to speak, being mentioned specifically EIGHT times in the series when authors were asked their favourite recurring crime fiction hero. Many interviewees couldn't restrict themselves to one choice - meaning more than 30 different recurring characters were noted as favourites, even though Robicheaux (8), Poirot (7), Philip Marlowe (7), Sherlock Holmes (6), Harry Bosch (5), Travis McGee (4), Inspector Morse (4) and Kinsey Millhone (3) were each mentioned several times.
  • Interestingly, the four characters that were mentioned nearly as much as Robicheaux were the four semi-finalists in Jen Forbus's 'World's Favourite Detective' poll of crime fiction readers, reviewers and bloggers in early 2010 (Bosch winning over Marlowe in the final, Holmes and Poirot made the semis). So it seems there is quite the consensus between writers and keen readers, except that writers rate the likes of Robicheaux and McGee higher (Robicheaux was knocked out early-ish on, in something of an upset).
  • The 44 crime fiction author interviewees had a varied array of 'first memorable books', from crime and mystery fiction to all-time classics, and lesser-known kids books. THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, BLACK BEAUTY, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS were in fact the only specific books to get multiple mentions (two each). As an aside, PD James and Val McDermid both picked WIND IN THE WILLOWS, whicle Michael Connelly and Mark Gimenez each picked TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.
  • However, Enid Blyton was the most popular/memorable 'first author', with five mentions for her Secret Seven and Famous Five series. Agatha Christie novels got three mentions, Hardy Boys novels two, and RL Stevenson novels two.
  • After having an 18 to seven male to female split early on , this has balanced out a bit more to 27 to 17 in the latter part of 2010- with ten of the last 19 interviewees being female.
  • 'Her' entry in the 9mm series was, I understand, perhaps the first published interview pseudonymed New Zealand thriller writer Alix Bosco ever gave. Bosco of course went on to win the 2010 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, and was also interviewed (by the same email via her publisher/agent technique) for some newspaper and magazine articles.
  • 12 New Zealand crime and thriller writers have been featured.
  • Although I could perhaps get some other similarly large 'name' internationally bestselling and award-winning authors to be part of the series in future (ie some more that are on the same level, so to speak), I don't think I could actually get any authors that are blatantly bigger 'stars' in the crime writing world than some of those included already (PD James, Val McDermid, Michael Connelly, James Lee Burke, Lee Child etc). Not bad for a series on a little blog in remote New Zealand.
So, that's a bit of a 2010 wrap-up for the 9mm series. What do you think of the series so far? Who have been your favourite interviewees? Who would you like to see interviewed in the coming year? Comments and feedback greatly appreciated.


  1. Craig - Thanks for this wrap-up. I've thoroughly enjoyed the series thus far, and I really do hope you'll continue it this year. One of the things I found interesting about the series was that, if memory serves me right, just about all of your interviewees have enjoyed reading crime fiction - well, mysteries - for a very long time.

  2. Hi Craig
    I really enjoy reading these interviews. It's always interesting to find out what writers recommed people should do in the writers home town, I think that gives good insight into the writers mind.
    I've only started reading your blog in the later part of 2010, but now it's my first stop in the morning. Nothing like a bit of crime news to start the day!
    All the best for 2011.

  3. Thanks for the comments guys. Who would you like to see interviewed in 2011? In terms of NZ-based authors I should probably add Neil Cross, Liam McIlvanney, and Ben Sanders to the list (to start with, then others too), and in terms of internationals, the possibilities are endless.

    Who would you like to read about?