Fresh Kills is a very intense novel. Do you find that writing
the Artie Cohen novels in the first person narrative style
helps the intensity?
Yes, I feel that writing in the first person really does
help the intensity, it's a traditional convention in crime
novels, and gives, I think, a real sense of taking the reader
into your (tortured) confidence.)
You have a background in journalism and documentary film-making.
What made you eventually decide to put “pen to paper” and
begin your first novel and why did to select Crime as a
I guess all journalists think about writing a novel, and
for me it was kind of put up or shut up. So I just took
the plunge, wrote a few chapters and miraculously, found
Maxine, Artie's wife, is a 9/11 widow and there are a lot
books and TV shows referencing September 11th as pivotal
to their sub-plots. With the United 93 movie being so successful,
do you feel it will be long before a novel based within
these terrible events will be written and published?
Well, there are already quite a few novels based on it,
or in part based on it. My Disturbed Earth, the last but
one Artie book was, in a sense, a 9/11 novel. I'm sure many
more to come, but few as good, simple and unsentimental
as United 93.
Your non-fiction book, Comrade Rockstar, is to be made into
a feature film starring Tom Hanks. This must be very exciting?
How much input did you have with selecting the lead role
and are you happy with the choice? Who would you choose
to play Artie Cohen?
I had no input. Tom hanks liked the story and optioned the
book. I'm thrilled, of course. I think Hanks is a brilliant
choice for Dean Reed (Comrade Rockstar), especially since
the really interesting part of his life was when he was
around Hanks' current age.
Of what does a “typical” writing day consist
for you? Do you have any set routines?
Pretty ordinary. Up as early as possible, out for coffee,
back to desk, write write write, avoidance usually in form
of rearranging my closet, then some more work, then out
Fresh Kill deals with the subject of loss on many different
levels. How did you research the novel and how much of the
plot is based on fact?
This one really is fiction. The only research I did was
to go to Staten Island where it's set a few times. And talk
to a few people about child offenders. Otherwise, mostly
out of my head.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors wanting to
I think the only advice is to read and read and read. Read
a lot and read everything. Learn about stuff but avoid all
media and writing courses as they are just self referential,
and what you want to know about is people and the world.
Eavesdrop on the tube for dialogue. And only write if you
can't bear not to. It ain't easy.
Which authors have had the greatest influence on your writing
and whose work are you currently reading?
I think John Updike and Phillip Roth the two greatest living
American authors, for me. I'm currently rereading Truman
Capote's In Cold Blood, which is a masterpiece.
What do you do when not working? Reggie
Read. Movies. Theatre, Travel, see friends, yak on the phone,
hang out, shop-sadly nothing very eccentric, wish I drove
a bus, or had a side-line in something exotic, but just
the regular pleasures of modern urban life.
What's next for Reggie Nadelson & Artie Cohen? Are you
scheduled to appear at any festivals in the UK this year?
Next Artie will be called Foreign Body. I've just been to
Hay and am doing Edinburgh end of August. I think that's
about it until 2007.
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER
Formerly a Chef, publican, shop manager, supermarket shelf-filler,
library employee and deliverer of lambs, Chris High now dedicates
most of his time to writing and journalism. He has successfully collaborated
with singer Chris de Burgh on a collection of song based short stories
available from his Website, and is currently in
the process of completing his first Crime novel. Chris lives on Merseyside,
England, with his cat Tigger and his dog, Duke.
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