Thursday, January 28, 2021

Comics conventions and Renaissance Florence: an interview with DV Bishop

Kia ora and haere mai, welcome to the fourth instalment of our 9mm interview series for 2021 - we're back on a regular track now after almost a year's hiatus. 

This author interview series has now been running for over a decade (though perhaps we shouldn't really count the last year), and today marks the 216th overall edition. Thanks for reading over the years. I've had tonnes of fun chatting to some amazing writers and bringing their thoughts and stories to you. 

My plan is to to publish 40-50 new author interviews in the 9mm series this year. You can check out the full list of of past interviewees here. Some amazing writers.

If you've got a favourite crime writer who hasn't yet been featured, let me know in the comments or by sending me a message, and I'll look to make that happen for you. Even as things with this blog may evolve moving forward, I'll continue to interview crime writers and review crime novels.

Today I'm very pleased to welcome some very fresh blood to Crime Watch: long-time storyteller and first-time crime novelist DV Bishop. David is the author of the historical mystery CITY OF VENGEANCE, which has been creating plenty of buzz ahead of its UK hardcover publication on 4 February. 

David's debut won the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland in 2018, and later secured him a two-book deal. He was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship by the Scottish Book Trust while writing CITY OF VENGEANCE, which is set against the backdrop of the Medici dynasty in 1530s Renaissance Florence. 

CITY OF VENGEANCE stars Cesare Aldo, a former soldier and now an officer of the city’s most powerful criminal court, who is given four days to solve the murder of a prominent Jewish moneylender. In the course of his investigations, Aldo uncovers a plot to overthrow the ruler of Florence. If the Duke falls, it will endanger the whole city. But a rival officer is trying to uncover the secrets of Aldo’s private life. Can Aldo stop the conspiracy, or will his own secrets destroy him first?

David is an award-winning screenwriter and TV dramatist who has also been a comics writer and editor, written tie-in novels featuring some world-famous characters, and is programme leader for creative writing at Edinburgh Napier University. 

But for now, the Kiwi in Scotland becomes the latest crime writer to stare down the barrel of 9mm. 


1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
It would have to be Endeavour Morse, created by the wonderful Colin Dexter and the heart of two amazing TV crime dramas, Inspector Morse and Endeavour. In fact I love Morse so much I wrote an unoffical guide to the character in all his incarnations, which got me into the Crime Writers' Association long before I wrote my first crime novel. I consider myself very lucky to have met Colin Dexter at a couple of his signings. There's such a depth and complexity to Morse as a character, something that screenwriter Russell Lewis has added to in the series Endeavour.

2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
I honestly can't remember. I was a voracious reader as a child, always hitting the limits of what the public library system would let me take out at any one time. As a boy I once walked five kilometres [about three miles] to get a book from the nearest library branch that had it on their shelves. Like many others, it was the mystery elements of Enid Blyton's Famous Five that got me hooked on crime fiction as a genre.

3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) - unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
CITY OF VENGEANCE is my debut as a crime writer, but I've got a list of priors as long as your arm, mostly written as David Bishop - dramas for the BBC TV, plays for BBC Radio, comics and graphic novels, audio dramas, computer games, and more. But no matter what I was writing, I always found a way to work a mystery into my work, even when I was writing for the BBC medical drama Doctors.

4. Outside of writing, touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
I'm a dreadful ham, but the pandemic has curtailed my amateur dramatic tendencies. I run when my knees allow, read when I'm not writing, and swim when there's an open pool nearby.

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?
I've lived in the UK for a long time, but Auckland in New Zealand remains my hometown. I recommend getting fish and chips from John Dory Takeaway on Jervois Road in Herne Bay and then go down the hill toward the Waitemata Harbour. There are some little jetties open to the public that hardly anyone knows about where you can sit down, jangle your legs over the sparking water and eat your kai [Maori for food] while staring up at the Auckland Harbour Bridge in the City of Sails.

6. If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
Karl Urban is probably too young to play me, so it'd likely be Russell Crowe - heaven help us both!

7. Of your writings, which is your favourite or particularly special, and why?
CITY OF VENGEANCE, and not just because it's my most recent. I spent decades not writing this novel, because I knew how much research was involved and I wasn't sure I was good enough to do it justice. Basically, I had The Fear about it. Eventually I started a PhD in Creative Writing because I knew it would force me to put up or shut up. For this to be my debut as a crime writer makes all the time and effort worthwhile.

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?
There were several publishers making offers for CITY OF VENGEANCE so it wasn't a single lightning bolt, but a series of moments until the deal was done by my amazing agent Jenny Brown. But getting published by Pan Macmillan - the people who published Colin Dexter and Ann Cleeves and Ian Fleming and Laura Shepherd-Robinson and CJ Sansom - is everything I could have hoped for and so much more.

9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
I used to be a comics editor, and was in charge of the legendary British anthology weekly 2000AD for nearly five years. That meant going to lots of festivals, conferences and conventions where I would have people thrusting their stories and artwork at me, hoping to impress. I remember one particularly extreme example when I was in a cubicle of the toilets and a hopeful artist push their sample pages under the door! I suggested they remove the offering before the pages got put to a use they hadn't intended...

Thank you David. We appreciate you chatting to Crime Watch

You can find out more about DV Bishop and his storytelling by following him on Twitter. 

No comments:

Post a Comment