Wednesday, March 30, 2016

9mm interview: Guy Fraser-Sampson

Welcome to the latest edition of 9mm, the long-running author interview series here on Crime Watch. For the month of March I've been highlighting some cool crime writers who will all be appearing as part of a fascinating crime festival, Deal Noir, on 2 April.

After the welcome by conference host Susan Moody, I'll be chairing the first panel "There's A Time And A Place for Everything" (Guy Fraser-Sampson, Daniel Pembrey, Linda Regan, and William Shaw) that kick-starts what should be a really fabulous day. You can read more about Deal Noir here.

You can read my previous 9mm interviews with William Shaw here, Daniel Pembrey here, Linda Regan here. and Susan Moody here. Today, capping off the introductions of my Deal Noir panel, I'm very pleased to welcome Guy Fraser-Sampson to Crime Watch, as the 144th member of 9mm.

Guy in an investment specialist and long-time crime fiction fan and has written several books, fiction and non-fiction (the latter has included investment advice, books on economic history - The Mess We're In was nominated for the Orwell Prize - and books on English cricket), but this month he's released his debut mystery novel, Death in Profile. The first in his new 'Hampstead Murders' series, Death in Profile is described as "a love letter to detective fiction", contemporary stories that have the spirit of the classic Golden Age. Guy has previously continued EF Benson's beloved 'Mapp and Lucia' series of humorous novels about the social escapades of a group of 1920s and 1930s British characters. Guy's three novels in that series have all been optioned for TV adaptation by the BBC.

But for now Guy Fraser-Sampson becomes the latest author to stare down the barrel of 9mm.


1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
Ngaio Marsh's Inspector Alleyn

2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
My first ever detective book was Ngaio Marsh’s Death in Ecstasy, for which I have always had a soft spot, It introduced me to detective fiction aged about 12. I loved everything about it, particularly the way it allowed you to escape into a completely different world. Marsh was followed quickly by Sayers, Simenon, and Creasey. The others had to wait a bit!

3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
I have written a lot of non-fiction. In fiction, I am best known to date for my Mapp & Lucia novels, all three of which have been optioned by BBC television.

4. Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
I grew up in a house without TV and have tried to keep it that way, though I do have a DVD player. I like watching old films (particularly from the 30s and 40s) and listening to chamber music, particularly Schubert. Naturally, I am also a voracious reader! I worked out the other day that I must have read close to 10,000 books.

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?
London: take in the sights from the middle of Waterloo Bridge at night.
Winchelsea: visit the grave of Spike Milligan and give thanks for a truly unique talent.

6. If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
I would have said Alan Rickman …

7. Of your own books, which is your favourite, and why?
Of my fiction, I am especially proud of Lucia on Holiday. It was a big gamble to take the characters out of their tried and tested setting, but I think it worked very well.

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 strangely unreal, though I can remember being puzzled that I didn’t wake up famous.

9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
Meeting a lady, now a very respectable solicitor apparently, whom I had snogged briefly but enthusiastically at University thirty years earlier, and not seen since. Charmingly, she not only remembered me, but specifically came to seek me out.

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

You can see Guy Fraser-Sampson at Deal Noir on 2 April as part of the "There's A Time And Place For Everything" panel at the Landmark Centre at 9.30am. For more information on Guy Fraser-Sampson, check him out here.

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