Good Reading : February 2011
FEBRUARY 2011 ı goodreading 7 me my shelf i alan carter ● When you were a child what did you enjoy reading? When I was a kid books didn't feature hugely in our household but when I was about seven or eight a neighbour was having a clearout and offered us the complete set of 'Famous Five' stories by Enid Blyton. It was my introduction to gritty crime. From there I progressed to the Alistair MacLean's spy/secret agent novels. ● What are you reading now, and why? I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, which is a refreshing and often hilarious take on the lives of Nigerian email scammers seen through Nigerian eyes. I'm in a book club run by a South Fremantle bloke and it's this month's book. ● What are some of your favourite books and authors? Ian Rankin's 'Rebus' series, James Lee Burke's 'Robicheaux' series, and Martin Cruz Smith's 'Renko' series. John Rebus is your classic grumpy, alcoholic, tenacious and canny Scots detective. Burke's Dave Robicheaux is a somewhat lyrical, almost poetic character, who hankers for an old-world Louisiana yet is awake to the hypocrisy that sur rounds him -- and he's capable of matching the violence of his often psychopathic adversaries. Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko is a hollow, broken-hearted, world-weary outsider operating over several decades in a rapidly changing Russia. He also echoes the romantic and tortured heroes of a Russia from long ago. Benang by Kim Scott is a gut-wrenching evocation of the casual but incredibly brutal violence of bureaucrats and settlers against the Aboriginal people of souther n Wester n Australia, and it poetically captures the landscape around Hopetoun and Ravensthorpe -- the setting for Prime Cut. I, Claudius and Claudius the God by Robert Graves -- epic Roman tragedies that sometimes make me giggle for the pomposity of their protagonist. John le Car ré's 'Smiley' novels -- for their plot intricacies, flawed and complex characters, and le Carré's nailing of middle- and upper-class mores. ● What books have made you laugh out loud? Stuart MacBride's 'Aberdeen' series -- the man is seriously twisted and at times very funny in that dark Scottish way. His description of a tabby cat licking itself and reminding him of a set of ginger bagpipes tickled me for days. Likewise his rendering of a young boy's sing-song answer to a policeman's knock at the door 'No, thank you, we don't want no f***in' polis today, thank you.' ● Which crime authors/books have had the most influence on your writing? When I need inspiration I turn to Ian Rankin's 'Rebus' series or Graham Hurley's 'Joe Faraday' series. I am particularly in awe of Hurley's eye for police procedural detail while maintaining a cracking pace, and his dissection of an eroded UK society during the 'New Labour' years. Rankin and Hurley also use a city as a central character to great effect. Henning Mankell's 'Wallander' series is also great for the same reason -- Sweden through Kurt Wallander's eyes is a dangerous place to spend your holidays. ● Where did ideas for the character's name Cato Kwong come from? Cato Kwong was inspired by a chance encounter during a documentary shoot (my day job) with a Chinese-Australian guy who had been nicknamed Cato by his colleagues.That got me thinking about where it came from: was it Cato from The Pink Panther or Kato from The Green Hornet? It wasn't a huge leap from there to transfer ring that into a fictional crime setting. ● If you were to imagine a film adaptation of your book, which actor would you see taking the starring role of Cato Kwong? That's a toughie -- probably not Jackie Chan. I picture Cato as being a bit taller. I probably need to bone up on spunky yet sensitive Chinese actors aged around 40. Suggestions anyone? ● Looking at the books on your shelves, do crime novels dominate? 'Fraid so. ● Where is your favourite place to write? The kitchen table.The kitchen is the centre of our house -- it's where everything happens.There's a nice view out to the backyard and I'm not too far from the kettle or the fridge. But it gets really hot in summer. ● Do you have tips and/or books on writing that you would recommend? ust go for it: read a lot and write a lot. After all, what do you have to lose -- apart from your family and friends as you drift off into a dream world for the next 12--18 months, your home is repossessed because you gave up the day job and forgot to pay the mortgage, and your sense of self-worth fades as you collect yet another rejection slip. Another tip is to find yourself a sugar mummy or daddy to pay the bills for at least a year -- I can't recommend that one too much. As for books: A Novel in a Year by Louise Doughty. I attended a ession she did at Perth Writers' Festival a couple of years ago and found her and her book very practical and very encouraging. Prime Cut by Alan Carter is published by Fremantle Press, r rp $32.95. ALAN CARTER was born in Sunderland, UK, in 1959. He holds a degree in Communications Studies from Sunderland Polytechnic and migrated to Australia in 1991. Alan lives in Fremantle with his wife Kath and son Liam. He is a TV documentary director (currently working on Who Do You Think You Are? ). He wrote his debut novel, Prime Cut, while living as a ‘kept man’ in Hopetoun, on the south coast of Western Australia.
December January 2011