Crime Writers' Panel

RJ Ellory, Mark Billingham, Jeffery Deaver
Moderated by Rosie Goldsmith

Crime Novels: The UK and US- comparison

Why do you have different detectives in your novels?

Jeffery: We don't necessarily want to continue to revisit stories. I wanted to create a mental detective, not in a maniac sense, but more in Sherlock Holmes style.

Then I wanted someone who is close to people and so on. Between my characters/detectives. I have got most of significant crimes in the world covered.

Mark: When I saw police officers, I thought they were like accountants. They had uniforms, 9 to 5 jobs, family and pretty much a settled life. That is good, but I don't want to write about these boring people. Readers have new expectations.

RJ: I met some fascinating crime fighters throughout my life and I wanted to tell people how detectives really are and how they live their life.

Do you feel need to bring in politics of today in a novel?

Mark: You can't NOT write. Crime fiction is uniquely placed to look at these factors. The story has to come first, in course of story, you can go to certain areas.

Jeffery: I find CIA helpful.

What makes a book interesting?

RJ: I think enough interest in characters and enough engagement of those characters with the readers will make them actually care about the characters.

Jeffery: I have been writing books since I was 11, well, just four pages, but I still used to call them, books. I loved telling stories and that gravitated me towards crime.

I want to engage with my reader from first sentence to the last. People don't really need to get to the middle of the book. We can engage with reader at any level. The element of personal relationship is there. Crime fiction can encompass social as well as psychological issues, because we write about people!

I don't really consider myself an entertainer. I create roller-costers. I want to create an elaborative roller-coster which might have terrifying experiences, but you will survive my book.

Location: How do you make North London interesting to people around the world? Why don't you write about country side?

Mark: I don't care, I don't care about country side. Any major city has two sides: the city people see and the hidden or the underground city, the society beneath the city. There are darker things in every city. That's how a reader gets interested in such place.

RJ: My novels are based in United States, in different places, different times.

How do American readers like British writers?

RJ: United States, par say, doesn't have a literary heritage, but, its just fascinating to see an incredibly young nations having immense power and influence on every aspect of world policies. America exported their culture around the world. The first book I wanted to read was about the murder of John F. Kennedy.

Jeffery: For me, there is nothing better than a good solid hollywood movie that makes emotional impact. American crime writing in the early 20th century translated into films and that travelled around the world. Books may differ but there is something that resonates in this translation that relates every one's imaginations around the world. When I was visiting Scotland once and was asked to speak at an event, I told the moderator that I will be speaking slowly just to make sure people don't find it difficult to pick. The moderator replied, "Don't worry, just understand us, Scots understand you because of CSI."

RJ: When I read, I want to be engaged and puzzled and questioned and quizzed. I want to be intrigued, I want to fall in love, fgall out of love with the characters.

Criticism and comparisons:

Jeffery: Criticism and characterisation are functions of question. The sole criteria should be: Is the writer a (mentally) healthy person or not? A writer's goal of writing is to perceive his/her thoughts. I like to entertain.

Crime writing: Is there any difference between the UK and US?

Mark: Yes, quite often in the UK we can over-write.

Jeffery: American crime fiction is superficial, there is no depth in it. Where's the crime fiction from the UK have more ambiguity.

Mark: American publishers think they know what the reader want.

RJ: I write in a style that suits the subject matter, US or the world.

Use of social media in crime writing:

Jeffery: I don't really enjoy it. But let's admit it, it has become a part of our lives. In my novel, Roadside Crosses, the protagonist is bullied on the internet and then he turns tables and goes after them. I have actually put on links in my  novel which actually exists and my readers actually click on the links right when they are reading and I have blogs setup on these links which provide them clues and then they take it forward and thus it gets them more and more involved.

RJ: I devote one and half to two hours every morning from 7 t0 9 and then from 10pm to midnight, for my international audience, on social media.

One weakness:

Mark: I find it extremely difficult to describe landscapes. I cannot do this if my life was dependent on it.

RJ: "To write is to human, to edit is to divine." I cannot read my own book as a reader.

Jeffery: I mix up different pauses in my novel in the last chapter and I find it difficult to explain those pauses sometimes.

Mark: I can't write about sex, to write about something you got to know what that is.

About the authors:

Jeffery Deaver is an international number-one bestselling author. His novels have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including The New York Times, The Times of London and The Los Angeles Times. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into 25 languages.

Mark Billingham is one of the UK's most acclaimed and popular crime writers. His series of London-based novels featuring D.I. Tom Thorne has won him the Sherlock Award, the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year Award and he has been nominated for five Crime Writer's Association Daggers. Mark has also worked successfully as a stand-up comedian for more than 15 years.

Roger Jan Ellory or RJ Ellory was born in Birmingham, England. Roger began writing his first novel in November 1987 and till July 1993 wrote 22 novels, none of which were published. He did not start writing again till 2001. His book Candlemoth was published in 2003 which was shortlisted for the Crime Writer's Association Steel Dagger for Best Thriller.


Leela said...

Love Mark's retort on why he can't write about sex :)

Money L Munot said...

Hahaha, I was rolling and laughing throughout the talk. Couldn't believe I was in a session called: Crime Writer's Panel!