Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Boston Bibliophile Interviews: Stav Sherez

Stav Sherez is a British novelist and music critic whose first novel, The Devil's Playground, was published in 2004. That book was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Best First Novel Award and his two most recent books, A Dark Redemption and Eleven Days were both shortlisted for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award.

I've been a fan of his since A Dark Redemption hit the U.S. in 2013 and I'm so excited to share this Q&A with you today.

1. You started out as a music critic. What brought you to crime writing? Whom in the crime world do you like to read? Who are your influences?
The stories I wanted to tell brought me to crime fiction. I've always been interested in questions of morality, in those places where right and wrong are not so clear-cut and in the choices people make when they think they have no choice at all, so it was natural that crime fiction would be the best way to explore that. I also love the deductive side of crime fiction – the seductions of logic, puzzle and mystery. There's something very elegant and satisfying about the best crime novels that is hard to find anywhere else.
I still read: James Crumley. Kem Nunn. Jim Thompson. James Sallis. James Ellroy. Ross Macdonald. Those are the ones I keep coming back to.
Outside of crime it would be: Cormac McCarthy, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Denis Johnson.

2. Do you write with music playing? Do you ever envision a playlist for your novels? Does ELEVEN DAYS have a playlist, even unofficially?

I can't write to music. I need to hear the rhythm of the sentences in my head. But I can't plot without it playing in the background! It seems to turn the tap on my subconscious. My first novel, The Devil's Playground, was written while I was still a music journalist and music features on almost every page. But I hate to do the same thing twice, so there's very little music in the next three books. However, it's started to creep back, and in The Intrusions, my next book, Geneva's listening habits would indeed constitute a playlist.

3. Your two crime novels that are available in the US, A DARK REDEMPTION and ELEVEN DAYS, are both really concerned with global social issues and their impact in England. How do you choose which issues to focus on in each book?

It's sounds like a clich̩ but the stories choose me. I begin to get obsessed and find myself thinking about little else. I read what I can about the subject and then I have to write about it, so I can stop thinking about it all the time! But, often, it's a single situation that sparks off the book and I then start to feel my way into it. It's only looking back with hindsight that I can see the same theme running throughout all four novels Рthat of idealism turning to fanaticism which, by its very nature, takes me to far-flung places. I'm very obsessed by the idea of Tourist Noir Рhow we behave when bad things happen to us abroad, when we no longer have the crutches of friends, family or even language. I guess all my books could be considered tourist noir.

4. I love the relationship between Carrigan and Miller. How do you see it evolving over the course of the series?

Why, thank you! I'm so glad you like it. You never know if something's going to work for a reader and it's always lovely when it does. I don't plan that much ahead – I think if a character surprises me, they're more likely to surprise the reader too – but I can say that things are going to get a little more fractious between Carrigan and Miller in the next book. Things sometimes have to get worse before they get better...

5. In the first two books the focus has been very much on Carrigan although we got some hints of Miller's problems in ELEVEN DAYS. Her ex seems like a real piece of work- are we going to see more of him? Does he wind up dead?

Oh yes, we're definitely going to see more of him in The Intrusions! I'm glad you asked about that because in the next book the focus is much more on Geneva. It's nice to be able to switch between them and hopefully, it'll be one of things keeping the series fresh.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!  I can't wait for the next book.