Chris is a prolific writer of books of many genres, who is currently most notable for his series about the adventures of octogenarian detectives Arthur Bryant and John May, and their increasingly antiquated, much maligned and yet highly successful Police Department, The Peculiar Crimes Unit.
His latest book Bryant & May: The Burning Man is out now.
LOC: The Burning Man marks the end of the second overreaching story arc’s in the Bryant and May series, what’s next? will we be seeing more from our favourite octogenarian pairing?
CF: The cat’s out of the bag now, Jo…I’ve been signed to more, but I’d always planned to go on – and I’d planned a way of doing so even though it appears that I’ve written the characters into an impossible corner.
LOC: My personal favourite of the series so far has been White Corridor, because of its shorter timescales, and for taking Bryant & May out of their comfort zone. What’s your favourite Bryant & May novel and why?
CF: Ah – that’s one of my ‘precinct’ tales, where you deliberately limit your options. They’re hard to write but very satisfying. I plan to do another soon. If you look at the timescales you’ll find that nearly all of the stories take place over one week and in exactly 50 chapters. I really love ‘The Burning Man’, but then I tend to be proudest of the latest one anyway.
LOC: I have a long drive to work each day and regularly listen to audio books. I’ve ‘read’ all of the previous Bryant & May novels this way. Tim Goodman is a fantastic narrator, how much input did you have in selecting him, and into the production of the audio books?
CF: I didn’t, but as soon as I heard him I knew we were in a safe pair of hands. I think they’ve done an unusually fine job on the books, and I hope Tim stays in there for a long time.
LOC: If they were ever brought to the Film or the TV screen, who would you like to see in the roles?
CF: Well the rights have been sold several times, once with Derek Jacobi attached. I think Toby Jones would be a great Bryant. There’s a theme tune for the show on YouTube and on my blog, written by Des Burkinshaw. Crippen’s on it!
LOC: What’s your writing space like, and do you have a regular writing routine?
CF: I have two very different writing spaces, one in London, in a minimalist space on an entirely glass table with no papers anywhere, the other in Barcelona on a pre-Franco voting ballot-table covered in papers and ink stains.
LOC: What are you working on at the moment?
CF: I recently finished ‘The Sand Men’ a paranoid and very sinister thriller set in Dubai, which comes out in October (I think) from Solaris. And ‘Bryant & May: London’s Glory’, a collection of their forgotten cases, comes out in time for Christmas this year.
LOC: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
‘CF: You don’t need to explain why people fall in love, you just need to know that they do.’ That, and ‘Dialogue is not conversation.’
LOC:Who inspires you?
CF: Gad, where to start? People in the street; I’m a good observer (harder than it sounds). Lots of writers from Dickens to Joe Orton to JG Ballard, and a lot of female American crime writers from the 1950s.
LOC: You obviously have a great deal of love for London, and its myths, magic and legends. How do you go about discovering these and carrying out research?
CF: I walk a lot, have an insane collection of strange London books (‘The Lost Cinemas of Camden Town’, anyone?), and have a tendency to make connections that only seem obvious when you put them together. Then once I have a hypothesis, I go out and see if it could be true. In ‘The Burning Man’, it seemed obvious to me that there was a connection between Guy Fawkes and the banking riots.
and for the LifeOfCri.me quick fire round…..
Bryant or May? Both, plus London
Fact or Fiction? Both, plus Surreality
London or Barcelona? Both
Historical or Modern? Both, plus Future
Crime or Sci-Fi? Both, plus alt. timeline
TV or Film? Both
Book or E-Book? Both