Today's Roving Eye interview is with crime author, Eva Dolan. Her novels, Long Way Home (2014) and the follow-up, Tell No Tales (2015) have marked her as a rising star of crime fiction.
1 - When did you first realise that you wanted to write for a living?
Writing was part of my life from a very young age. I started out making little chapbooks when I was four or five years old, stitching them together from sugar paper, forcing my family to read them! During my teens I wasted hundreds of hours better spent on homework writing, and in fact quite a lot of class time, where I'd hide a work in progress inside my exercise books. The urge just didn't go away and by the time I was seventeen I was doing full length - very bad - books at a rate of one a year. Writing for a living didn't feel like a realistic career option back then but the challenge of getting published kept pushing me on.
2 - What made you chose crime fiction?
It was a chance suggestion from an early reader, who thought my style was better to suited to crime than the horror I was writing at the time, and I'm so thankful to them for the push, because it feels like exactly the right home for me now. The genre is so broad that you can do pretty much anything within it, write huge, almost state-of-the-nation style stories or focus in on the minutiae of a tiny family unit as they fall under some terrible darkness, take your characters from the top of society to the bottom and show how all the strata in between are linked. My work has always had a political bent so the freedom to explore social and economic issues, while killing people, was the biggest pull.
3 - What crime novel would you most like to have written?
The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. Creating a completely amoral hero then making the reader root for them is an art I doubt I'll ever master and I marvel at the skills of any author who can do it.
4 - Who is your favourite author outside of crime fiction and why?
Cormac McCarthy. First and foremost it's his sentences, they're complex and hypnotic, twisting and looping around; he sucks you in with that rhythm and takes you to some incredibly dark and hopeless places. I love how uncompromising his work is, he doesn't shy away from prejudice or brutality, he revels in it, pushing way beyond most authors point of no return. And his landscape writing is just ridiculously good.
5 - Who are you reading right now?
One of my New Years resolutions for 2015 was reading more non-fiction and right now I'm deeply into Ghettoside by Jill Leovy, who spent almost ten years embedded with the LAPD. It's an investigation into the murder of an 18 year old boy, but digs deep into the way the cycle of violence can be perpetuated in a deprived are. It which barrels along like the best kind of thriller but makes you stop every now and again to think, with mounting fury, that it's all completely true.
6 - If you weren’t a writer, what else could you see yourself doing?
My dream job would be professional poker player - I'm already used to sitting in a chair for long stretches, staring at a computer screen trying to make badly behaved characters do what I want, so the online game wouldn't be much different. Not much fun either though. I'd rather do the globe trotting live version, big, trashy casinos in Vegas and Macau, elegant European card rooms, and all of that free time when I bust out early to go exploring the shops and cafes and art galleries. Although I'd miss being able to work in pyjamas.
7 – What was the last great book that you read?
It's not a crime novel, but Neverhome by Laird Hunt really impressed me. The story of a woman who went to fight in the American Civil War disguised as a man. I'm not usually a fan of war books but this one is beautifully written and the central character so utterly compelling and sympathetic that I had a little cry at the end.
8 - How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I resisted buying a Kindle for ages, being a bit of a purist, but now a good 90% of my reading is e-books and it doesn't change the experience at all, just makes it a bit more physically comfortable when the alternative is a whopping great hardback. As for the indie v traditional debate - there are some brilliant books coming out of self-publishing and small presses and some distinctly not great ones from the big houses, so I try to keep an eye on what's coming through from all channels. Futuristically I think the industry will become quite polarised, with the biggest lead titles taking up ever greater market share, which will likely drive more midlist authors into a hybrid model. And that's maybe a good thing, because it would allow more daring and speculative fiction to find an audience, rather than sitting on data sticks and in drawers completely unread.
9 – Coffee and cake or Tea and Biscuits?
Definitely coffee and cake. Most of the time I'm on espressos and since I love baking there'll usually be a slice of cake nearby, apple and cinnamon loaf or lemon cupcakes or my latest attempt, chocolate and beetroot cake; sounds weird, tastes divine!
10 - Sum up your latest novel in less than 20 words
Zigic and Ferreira investigate the link between a fatal hit and run and a series of brutal, racially motivated murders.