Wednesday, December 31, 2014

9mm interview: Grant Nicol

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Iceland Noir crime writing festival in Reykjavik. Along with catching up with a few authors I'd met or interviewed before, such as Peter James, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Craig Robinson, Alexandra Sokoloff, James Oswald and others, I also met other authors I'd read and written about, and some completely 'new to me' authors.

One of those new-to-me authors was a fellow New Zealander, Grant Nicol, who had moved to Iceland after living elsewhere in Europe (read more here). I randomly met Nicol in the lobby of the festival. His debut crime novel, ON A SMALL ISLAND, is set in Reykjavik and involves a family member investigating a crime. It is available on Amazon, and has received good reviews. His second crime novel, THE MISTAKE, will be published by Number 13 Press. It sees a detective and a father searching for a girl's killer in Reykjavik. I'm looking forward to reading both, and seeing how this Kiwi crime writer harnesses the Scandinavian setting in his murder mysteries.

But now, for the 97th instalment in this series, Grant Nicol stares down the barrel of 9mm.


1: Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
Kurt Wallander, the resident Ystad pessimist and lover of Glenmorangie and Maria Callas. Henning Mankell’s wonderful novels and the three simply incredible television series that were made in Sweden from his story ideas starring Krister Henriksson were all a massive influence on my writing and my life. That’s the difference between Mankell and the rest of his contemporaries, he does more than just tell great stories, he teaches us something about ourselves along the way.

2: What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
MOBY DICK. My parents gave me that book when I was ridiculously young hoping that it would inspire me on to greater things. I think we were all surprised I even read it. It’s a great tale of a man driven by the damage he has sustained in life to the point of complete obsession.

3: Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
Several horrendous, poorly organised, hackneyed and altogether tedious screenplays. They taught me about the structure of storytelling but little else except that I loved writing and still had a great deal of work to do if I was going to do anything with it beyond a hobby. Luckily they were all destroyed or lost when I moved from Australia to the UK.

4: Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
I love independent cinema, Bío Paradís is my local art-house cinema so I go there when time allows. I live in Reykjavík so it’s a bit cold here most of the time and my favourite way to get some exercise is at the local swimming pool where I can swim laps, enjoy the steam room and soak in the hot-pots. It’s a great place to think. Swimming laps clears you mind, it’s really meditative and soaking in the hot-pots allows it fill back up again. As for the steam room, it’s just really hot.

5: What is the one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn’t in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
Bands. Reykjavík has more talented musicians per capita than anywhere I’ve ever been. If someone was going to come visit I would recommend the beginning of November for the Iceland Airwaves festival. It’s unreal. So many different musical genres represented and 75% of the 200 or so bands performing are Icelandic. I’m the ultimate music tourist whether it’s orchestras in European concert halls or the Roskilde festival, it’s all good. Live performances give you memories that last forever and that’s what it’s all about.

6: If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
Pétur Jóhann Sigfússon. Google the guy. He’s just a talented, retardly good-looking version of me.

7: Of your books, which is your favourite, and why?
ON A SMALL ISLAND is my first-born and will always be my favourite. Nothing I ever write will take me as long to complete as it did. I hope.

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?
It was what I’d always wanted but at the same time it takes so long and demands so much of you that when it finally happens it’s a huge sense of accomplishment but also a great relief. It’s like, well now that’s done and out of the way I can get on with doing what I want to do.

9: What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
I went to this crime writing festival when I’d just moved to Reykjavík and this Kiwi crime fiction reviewing madman walked up to me and introduced himself. How could there possibly be two of us there so far from home? Now I’m doing this interview for him.

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


You can find out more about Grant Nicol and his crime writing here:


Comments welcome

1 comment:

  1. I was intrigued to 'find' , via a previous Crime Watch post there was such a thing as a New Zealander, living in Iceland writing crime novels., so I bought 'On a Small Island' straight away.
    Simply, I enjoyed the read. The main character, Ylfa, I found unlikeable ( her sister Ellen, more so) at the start but she grew on me and by the end I cared about her and her dysfunctional lovelife and broken family. The plot developed logically and enough hints were intertwined throughout for the ending to be 'right'. A love of horses came across strongly. They seemed nicer that the humans. A very good read and I'll keep an eye out for Nicol's second novel.