Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kerry Greenwood - Author Interview Series

Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series began in 1989 with Cocaine Blues. Kerry has written sixteen books in this series with no sign yet of Miss Fisher hanging up her pearl-handled pistol. Kerry says that as long as people want to read them, she can keep writing them.

What authors/books did you read as a child? When did you first discover your love of books?

I learned to read when I was three beause I had a favourite book, Katie the Kitten - a golden book - and my mother read it to me so many times that I coud recite it and associated the words spoken with the ones on the page. "Katie the Kitten a small tiger cat is asleep in a hall in a ball in a hat..." Then I read EVERYTHING including the backs of cornflakes packets. My favourites were Milne, Lewis Carroll, Kipling, C S Lewis, Doctor Doolittle, Elizabeth Goudge... and everyone else.

When did you first realise you were a writer? What do you hope your readers will take away with them from reading your books?

I wrote my first novel when I was sixteen. I just love writing books. I hope to amuse my readers, to take them away to another place, where there will always be a happy ending.

Do you find it difficult to read purely for pleasure? Does everything you read come under your 'writer' microscope?

To a certain extent, particularly detective stories. But I am very pleased when a writer convinces me and seduces me into a false solution. I enjoy the artistry and the journey.

Do you have to avoid reading certain types of fiction while writing your own? Does what you read while writing have an effect on what you write? In what way?

Yes, I never read detective stories while I am writing one, due to the possibilites of cross-contamination. I stick to other genres while I am writing. I haven't had any bad experiences in this way, because I avoid the possibility.

Name five authors or books that have influenced or inspired your own writing in some way?

Dorothy Sayers, my hero. Wrote the best detective stories in my genre.
J R R Tolkein, who wrote the definitive fantasy, the definitive second creation, to which I can only aspire.
P G Wodehouse, for his skilled, ingenious and very funny use of language.
Leslie Charteris, who wrote The Saint and perfected the caper novel.
Joan Aiken, who invented alternate histories.

If you were travelling and were told you could only take one book with you, what book would it be and why?

The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkein. Or if it has to be non fiction, The Histories by Herodotus.

What makes a book 'too good to put down'?

Pace, ingenuity, clarity of character.

What makes you put down a book without finishing it?

Unimaginative characters, boring exposition, too much description, (Walter Scott, I see you!) and predictable plot.

Do you have a favourite author? Who is it and what is it about their writing that draws you to them?

Tolkien again. It's the most perfect sub-creation. You believe that there are hobbits, or have been hobbits. I like to believe that, too.

If you had to list them, what would be your 'top ten' reads of all time (excluding the classics) and why?

Can't exclude classics, sorry.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens - the book which changed the law, complex, fascinating, passionate.
The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkein - for reasons already cited.
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken - another perfect sub creation and a romping good read.
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - the original psychedelic fantasy.
The Beast Master by Andre Norton - clever, deeply felt YA adventures in space-time.
A Morbid taste for Bones by Ellis Peters - another perfect re-creation of another time.
Nova by Samuel Delaney - epic in future form, redolent with other myths.
When Things Fall Apart by Ron Goulart - who can be funny about dystopias.
Goblin Reservation by Clifford Simak - I love his dry, constrained style.
The Christening Quest by Ann Scarborough - witty, ingenious, intelligent fantasy.

What do you think of the non-traditional publishing methods - eBooks etc? Do you think the new technology will encourage more people to read? Do you think there's a future for print books?

Yes, as a niche, and because people will always like to have a book or two around the house (they do not need batteries). Also it is not a good idea to read ebooks in the bath. I suspect that printed books will become art objects and plain everyday novels will be something you download. Fine with me.

When Kerry is not writing, she works as a locum solicitor for the Victorian Legal Aid. She is also the unpaid curator of seven thousand books, three cats (Attila, Belladonna and Ashe) and a computer called Apple (which squeaks). She can detect second-hand bookshops from blocks away and is often found within them. For fun Kerry reads science fiction/fantasy and detective stories.

You can find out more about Kerry here.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Kerry Greenwood,
    I love your books and I concur with your assessment of Dorothy L. Sayers....I refer to her as "The Great Brain". To me, you follow close behind her. Thank you for your wonderful books and the character of Phrynie Fisher, her people and her world. Thank you for the language which is intelligent, culturally and era appropriate. I love a book which causes me to crack open the OED...kudos!!!