Archive for the ‘Interviews & Reviews’ Category

you can run – reviews and interviews

Posted by on June 16th, 2017

So – it’s been a while since I added a post here, which I apologise for. But then, as noted previously, I decided to use this space more for general news and updates and less for what I used to. With regard to the latter, I tend to chat and argue more on Twitter and Facebook these days, and if you want to add me for those purposes then the links are above. Everybody is welcome.

In the meantime, my latest book – You Can Run – came out in April in ebook and trade paperback, with a normal paperback to follow in August. I figured it was about time to collect some of the reviews and interviews together. So here we go.

Reviews

NJ Cooper reviewed the book at BookOxygen here:

“The first chapter of Steve Mosby’s You Can Run opens with a heart-sinking scene of a kidnapped woman in pain and terror, but this is no tick-box serial-killer thriller … The ultimate revelations are as much about the nature of love, friendship and hate as about police procedure and serial killing.”

LizLovesBooks reviewed the book here:

“A genuinely top notch, cleverly and beautifully written crime novel with a huge heart … Highly Recommended.”

Ben Hunt at Material Witness reviewed the book here:

“The plot is detailed, rich and intricate taking an unpredictable path through many damaged lives … You Can Run is a dark, haunting read that you won’t [want] to put down. Especially at 2am.”

For Winter’s Nights reviewed the book here:

“Steve Mosby is a master of darkly twisted crime thrillers and he’s done it again with You Can Run.”

The Crime Warp reviewed the book here:

You Can Run is a triumph in the creepy serial killer, edge of your seat  sort of read … The writing is beautifully haunting, almost poetic, and chilling in equal measure.”

Chris High had this to say:

“Steve Mosby’s latest outing You Can Run is – not to put too fine a point on it – sensational … Fabulously deft, ridiculously well executed and a novel to read in one hit if ever there is one, [it] is an absolute winner in every respect.”

Anne Bonny Book Reviews reviewed the book here:

“His best yet! … spine-chilling reading.”

Interviews

I’ve been lucky enough to be asked some interesting questions about the book by a few different people. For one, you’ll find a Q&A with me below the review from Anne Bonny Books above.  In addition, The Crime Warp was kind enough to interrogate me here. And Chris High also had some things to ask me here.

As always, I really appreciate everybody who took the time to read the book, review the book, ask me questions about it, or just comment on it in general.

Thank you all very much indeed.

ideas

Posted by on June 28th, 2014

I did a talk at the Gedling book festival last week about ideas and where they come from. I really enjoyed the event, but my talk was a bit painful: I had a bad cough, and found it hard to get a decent lungful of breath, so my voice was all over the place and I had to keep glugging water to be able to speak. Nevertheless, here’s some video from the event:

By the way, the story towards the beginning about Download Festival is true. At the event itself, I explained what had really happened, but it’s been edited out of the video. Which is fine. The mundane explanation isn’t as interesting as just leaving it hanging.

I thought my worst ever review was lost forever, but, thanks to the wonders of wayback, I found it online last week. A bunch of writers on twitter were comparing war stories, so I went searching for it, then stuck up a link. It got a flurry of sympathetic responses, and I thought I’d post it here too, and say a few things about it.

Housekeeping. Since it’s not properly online anymore, and was pseudonymous in the first place, I’m just going to post the whole thing without feeling too much guilt. But the link to it on wayback is here. And the site that hosted it, Bookmunch, is still going in a new incarnation here.

Right. Buckle yourselves in. Because this is going to get ugly.

“Bitesize: Excrutiating, tedious, clichéd crime debut from Steve Mosby, a name not to watch . . .

Sometimes it is rather difficult to know quite where to start. Sometimes a book is good – so good that the job becomes difficult. How can you explain what makes this particular book different from that particular book? This is good, you say. You will enjoy it. Other times, you may feel a book is alright – this book shows promise. You may not wish others to experience the book, but it may be worth bearing a certain name in mind for the future. Look out for this author next time around. Further down the scale, there may be books that – had they experienced ruthless editing – could have been fit to see the light of day (and again, these writers are possibles, these are writers that the future may yet be kind to – a good example would be Yann Martel, whose first two books were quite, quite horrible). You may read a book and – horrible word this but – “appreciate” what it has to offer – it isn’t for you, but you can see why others would take to it (I tend to throw things like The Lord of the Rings in here – it isn’t for me, but . . . you know?). And then – there are the bad books. There are the books that bore you. The books you do everything to avoid (you wash up, you talk to relatives you don’t even like on the telephone, you watch soaps on TV). The books that cause you physical pain. The books you invariably fling across the room in rage – because who was responsible for this outrage, and who ensured it was made available in print?

These are the books you want to hold up to the light and gut like a fish.

The Third Person by Steve Mosby is such a book.

Jason is looking for Amy, his girlfriend. She disappeared three months ago. There was a letter on the kitchen table – she was going away, to think about things, to work stuff out – but she would be coming back. She said. But she didn’t, and Jason has been busy, trawling through the true detritus of the Internet, following Amy’s electronic footsteps through rape sites and snuff sites and – sick shit, my friends. He has his friend, a techie called Graham, sifting through CCTV footage purloined from various hacked sites and mapping Amy’s final route through the city – which I should add is no actual city but rather a “suggested” city – because The Third Person operates in a kind of murky future world (which feels the need to appropriate Americanisms like “freeway” and “sidewalk”), a world in which the spaces between various high rises have been paved, a world that has seen fit to eclipse Downtown, forcing its emergence as a spooky netherworld of crime and disorder. But I’m getting ahead of myself – prior to Amy’s disappearance, Jason was having himself a wee cyber fling with Claire – a cyber fling that resulted in his leaving Amy for a pivotal day around which much of the novel revolves – who, in turns out, was a prostitute involved with an old gent who was purchasing examples of writing, writing capable of transporting the reader to wherever and whatever the writing recorded (think of it as the writing equivalent of Dreamscape, that Natalie Wood movie in which virtual reality was the equivalent of genuine reality, so you experienced whatever you saw, be it sex or death or – whatever). As Jason searches for Amy, the snuff writing stolen by Claire – and the writer himself – become inextricably wound up in the search and before you know it people are dying left, right and centre and a virus capable of reducing the Internet to a ghost town is on the loose and . . .

Before we start gutting, let’s talk about common principles. The common principles of bad writing, if you will. If you were to sift through the mountains of unpublished writing in search of a home, you would find a number of tropes that have a tendency to repeat: the most common thing is violence against women. Sometimes it’s thuggish and ignorant. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it is dressed up as darkness. The modern darkness that obsesses a vast number of misanthropic men in their late twenties. But, for all that, it’s still violence against women written by men with issues. Bad writers also have a tendency to DESCRIBE EVERYTHING, irrespective of whether (a) said detail will advance plot or (b) said detail is in the least bit interesting. Bad writers have a tendency to insert tangential comment – what they think of coffee or pot plants or – whatever; bad writers confuse said tangential comments with “style” – believing wrongly that their thoughts on just about everything are hugely original (this ties in with another common characteristic of bad writing – that wounded superiority that you know has arisen from the fact that the writer in question knows beyond a shadow of a doubt they are a genius but can’t quite work out why other people have failed to cotton onto the fact). Bad writers labour under the misconception that using filmic shorthand (a) makes them appear cool and (b) no doubt eases the work required when their masterpiece is – inevitably – transformed into a blockbuster. Filmic shorthand invariably has filmic characterisation – in other words, characters you’d expect to find played by somebody of the calibre of – ooh I don’t know, Jason Statham. So characters kill without compunction (or worse, if the author has a little intelligence – and you know what they say about a little intelligence – the killer will kill and the reader will then be subjected to a page or so of existential anguish – anguish which is then sloughed away in time for the next killing and the next). You can also expect comebacks more often than not (think of it as the “yippee-kie-ay, motherfucker” factor). Bad writing is too literal. Bad writers spell everything out in block capitals. Conversely, you can also expect bad writing to hop, skip and jump about with nary a thought for logic.

The Third Person ticks all of the boxes outlined above. I am sorely tempted to quote an example (or examples) of each – but (i) I’m spoiled for choice and (ii) I’ve already spent a week of my life reading 264 pages of this bilge and – that’s a week’s reading I’m never getting back. Of course, you can always say that there is much in the way of shite writing that sells by the bucketload – your James Pattersons, your Michael Marshalls. There is also a fair share of extraordinary writing – both in crime from the likes of James Ellroy, Walter Mosley etc, and in that curious hinterland of writing that seeks to wed fantasy and scifi and crime and – stuff, people like Jeff Vandermeer, whose Veniss Underground could offer Mosby stark lessons in doing this kind of thing – but that would rely on Mosby being able to display the kind of talent that The Third Person more than demonstrates him woefully short of. This is the kind of book that forces you to be harsh – somebody wants to sit this guy down and say NEVER WRITE ANYTHING AGAIN. Or – prior to his unleashing anything else on the world – ensure that the book is edited by a marine drill sergeant – the guy from Full Metal Jacket should do the trick.

Let’s just all save ourselves a lot of time and effort and never speak of this again.

Any Cop?: Didn’t I just say: we’re not to speak of this again!!”

1.

Okay. First things first. A few people on twitter suggested I might have been upset when I read this. Even if it hadn’t been one of the first reviews I ever received (and it was), I can understand that viewpoint. It’s a brutal review. I’ve read more brutal reviews, I think, but not many. It’s up there in the top ten.

So, how did it feel? I don’t really remember, to be honest. I know I can’t have been that distraught about it, simply because, if I had been, I’m sure I would remember. I think my reaction then was more or less the same as it is while reading it now (with the caveat that, right now, it doesn’t feel like my fledgling career is going to be destroyed by it).  The level of vitriol – about a book, let’s not forget – is surprising, but within a few sentences of that plummeting feeling, all that’s really left to do is strap yourself in and see how far down the thing goes. And a part of me enjoys reading a good evisceration, so I can’t really complain when the knives get turned on me.

2.

Is the criticism valid? Well, that’s not for me to say. I’m sure the reviewer genuinely did have those feelings about the book, so on that level, her criticisms can only ever be considered legitimate. It’s a curious book. I have a great deal of affection for it, as not only is it my first published novel, but the last I wrote – as it were – purely for myself, and the best I could do at the time. If I was writing it now, it would certainly be very different; I see flaws throughout. And I always worry a little when people who have liked my later writing say they’ve picked it up as a result, because it is very, very far removed from what I do now.

At the same time, I don’t think Hatchick (the reviewer) really got what I was trying to do with it, or even what the book was supposed to be about. That is also my fault, of course – but a different kind of fault to the ones she picks out in the review. Despite what she says, I think, if anything, I didn’t spell certain things out enough.

3.

“Excrutiating” should be “excruciating”. Holding a fish up to the light to gut is a mixed – and potentially very messy – metaphor. Etc. You see. Nobody’s perfect.

4.

One thing I do remember is writing to the editor to complain about the review. Not because it was negative – I made it clear that was totally fine – but about the one line concerning misanthropic men in their late twenties. I thought that was needlessly personal and, given the subject matter of the book, both presumptuous and more than a little offensive. I received a reply from the editor that he would not consider removing that sentence, but would allow me right of reply below the review. He also cautioned me that it seldom looked good for the author to do so. Well, no, it doesn’t, and since that wasn’t what I was asking for anyway, I didn’t do so. At the time, that particular line pissed me off far more than the overall tone; reading it now, it still grates. But the world turns. These days, I wouldn’t bother sending that email.

5.

I think, all in all, it was good I got this review so early on. Reviews can be harsh (and I’ve certainly had some bad ones since), but really, if you get something like this when you’re starting out, at least you know it’s unlikely to get much worse. In much the same way, my first panel experience was an utter disaster; the second panel I was on, I could hardly have cared less. It was freeing. And in terms of this review, ten years later, I’m still going. I didn’t stop writing. When you put books out there, the chances are you’re going to take a hit. And when I see new reviews these days, whatever the content, there’s some consolation in knowing that I’m likely to have been hit with a hell of a lot worse.

Dark Room – best of 2012 nods

Posted by on January 5th, 2013

Just quickly: really pleased to note that Dark Room got a couple of mentions in ‘best of 2012’ lists. First off, here, at January Magazine – and thank you very much indeed to Ali Karim for including it. And also here – as part of the House of Crime and Mystery’s Readers Choice awards, where it’s amongst stellar company indeed (in fact, all the lists look great). Thanks to everyone who voted there – I massively appreciate it.

dark room

Posted by on July 18th, 2012

Dark Room is officially published tomorrow, but I’ve seen copies in the wild already, so this is just a quick post to say – it’s out! To celebrate, I thought I’d mention a couple of reviews and associated interviews that are available to read online.

The first review is from L J Hurst at Shotsmag, and you can read it here. “A grim police procedural with rich sub-texts” – I like that. The review is positive, and I’m very grateful to them for running it.

Grateful, also, to Luca Veste at Guilty Conscience for this review. Which I think might be the best review I’ve ever had. I’m too bashful to quote from it, but huge thanks to Luca for his kind words.

Interviews – Ric Ward was good enough to ask me some questions for his website, and you can read the answers here. And Luca was good enough to do the same. Here’s what I had to say there.

Tomorrow is also the day I head off to Harrogate for the crime fiction calendar’s best festival. I’m doing an event on the Friday afternoon, and I’ll be there tomorrow night for the opening ceremony, at which the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award is announced. Thrilled to be on the shortlist, whatever happens. And if any of you are attending this weekend, I hope I’ll get the chance to catch up with you and say hi.

 

Sooooo. Last month, as I mentioned, I did some recording for the German edition of Black Flowers. And the result is now available online, so I’m embedding it below. It’s really nice, actually – the parts that don’t feature me certainly are, anyway – and, aside from the cheesy voiceover man bit at the beginning, it’s probably not as embarrassing as it could have been.

All else aside, it’s obviously great that Droemer wanted to do this, and I massively appreciate it. Thanks also to the Sociology and Social Policy department at the University of Leeds and The Packhorse (the Briggate one) for permission to film there.

 

new year update

Posted by on January 10th, 2012

Happy New Year! A bit late, admittedly, but any regular followers of this site will, by now, be used to my horrific tardiness. You may even be surprised to get an update so early. Regardless, I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year.

What have I been up to? Well, Christmas was nice – mainly because of Zack. He’s not quite two yet, so it’s still a bit lost on him, but he enjoyed it. Christmas morning, he stood, pointing at the presents beneath the tree, shaking his head and saying “No, no, no” over and over again, but soon changed his tune when he figured out how to open them and that there was cool stuff inside. Impossible to move in here, now, for toys, but I can’t think that’s a bad thing.

Writing-wise, then. Well, let’s number all that up.

1) Self-promotion

a) I got into a small argument online just after Christmas over this (one of many overall discussions). I made a couple of jokey tweets in response to the sheer number of “Got a Kindle for Christmas? Buy my book here!” tweets and Facebook updates.

It’s a difficult thing to balance, self-promotion. It’s a necessary evil (not just for self- or indie-published writers; traditionally-published writers really need the attention too, believe me). But it can become self-defeating – and the time of year just overloaded me with too many people saying the same thing. Over and over.

b) There have been related discussions about authors reminding people they’re eligible for the Hugo awards in SF, whether it’s okay to say “Please nominate my book!”, and so on.

My view – it’s fine to point it out, to an extent. My further view is that I don’t really understand it beyond that. If you’re campaigning vociferously to win an award, doesn’t that take away any joy from winning? It would for me.

Random observations on both things: the degree of confidence in the book/yourself required for active self-promotion seems bizarrely at odds with the need for validation implied in actively seeking awards; I, personally, avoid works by excessive self-promoters, and that’s okay because there are too many good books to read anyway so we all need filters; this whole topic really divides people; and, regardless, it will definitely get worse and worse and even more fucking tedious as time goes on. Fade out.

2) Promotion

I did some. People from Droemer, my German publishing company, came over last week to film me talking about Black Flowers and doing … well, stuff. There should be a few short clips online – about the book, me, my writing – within a month or so. I’ll point them out, probably, when they’re there. Maybe I’ll even annotate them: “That was where we pulled in to film the chimney!”

It was horrible and fun at the same time. Horrible because, for various reasons, I don’t like being filmed or being the centre of attention. And I just don’t perform well on camera: I don’t really do moody and intense, and I’m a bit geeky and awkward and it doesn’t really work. At the same time, of course, it’s great that Droemer wanted to do this, and Carsten and Peter were both lovely and patient with me. It was fun to trail around Leeds Uni, film in The Packhorse (Leeds’s oldest pub, fact fans – not Whitelocks, which is the oldest food-serving pub), ninja our way to various other places for good shots, and spend a day in Whitby being scary-trailer-voiceover man.

I’ll look like a twat, honestly, but it was still fun overall. Watch this space.

3) Dark Room / Book 8

Still editing Dark Room. The release has been pushed back to July (for unconnected reasons). It’s more-or-less on track, and is turning out to be my morally and intellectually warped take on a police procedural. Plans for Book 8 are … there, sort of. Slowly taking shape. I also have a few short stories on the boil, one of which might end up a bit longer than that. Still not sure what I’ll do with any of them, but they’re not crime.

4) Lenore Hart…

… is still blatantly a plagiarist. Latest updates are here. Her publishers, St Martin’s Press, are still doing the fingers in the ears, la-la-we-can’t-hear-you routine – although at least the Norman Mailer Center has given her a leave of absence from teaching duties. Presumably because she’s a plagiarist. You know –  a writer who takes other people’s writing and passes it off as their own? That kind of plagiarist. Just so we’re clear.

5) Off The Record

The anthology of short stories, edited by Luca Veste, all proceeds of which go to charity. I have one in it (not really crime either). The collection’s selling slowly and steadily, but it should sell more. I’ve stuck up a dedicated page: link’s also to the right and to the top. If you haven’t, and you can, you’ll probably enjoy it if you get a copy. Plus, there’ll be a warm feeling at doing good for the world.

6) Hensher

Who we encountered here. He wrote a terrible review of a book, ages ago, which has been doing the rounds again today. It’s difficult to deny it’s an entertaining hatchet-job – but still, we might think, bit of a twat. So there’s also this, via Dan Waddell, to balance it out.

And on that note, Hensher called me “some wanker” last year. I also had “14-karat asshole”, “whiney bitchboy” and “anonymous coward”. Here’s to 2012, eh? *Raises glass*. Cheers, one and all. Hope it’s a great one.

The weird questionnaire

Posted by on December 21st, 2011

Which is here. I saw M John Harrison’s answers on his blog, which I found interesting. And I was bored, so – despite the obvious cynicism anyone with any sense feels to something like this – I did it in the background anyway, and I did it honestly.

________________________________

1 – Write the first sentence of a novel, short story, or book of the weird yet to be written.

It happens like this.

2 – Without looking at your watch: what time is it?

6pm.

3 – Look at your watch. What time is it?

I don’t have a watch, so I cheated. It’s totally 6pm, according to the clock in the corner of my computer screen. I don’t have a watch because it’s usually easy to tell what time it is by phone, or by clock, or by what point you’re at in the day, the latter of which is probably best.

4 – How do you explain this — or these — discrepancy(ies) in time?

Well, no need.

5 – Do you believe in meteorological predictions?

Yes, to an extent.

6 – Do you believe in astrological predictions?

Not at all. I used to be full-on about this – I thought astrologers should be prosecuted for fraud. Now, I don’t care quite so intensely. Although the whole thing is clearly bollocks, maybe it makes life more interesting for some people, I don’t know. I sort of fall in with Feyerabend, to an extent, in that truth might be one virture of a theory, but it’s not the only virtue – that if something’s true, that doesn’t necessarily make it useful or beneficial. When my grandfather was dying, he believed he was going to Heaven. I don’t think it would have benefited him much to be faced with the brutal truth (as I believe it). So my general philosophy is that you can happily believe anything you don’t have to rely on, especially if it makes life interesting, so long as you don’t expect me to believe it as well.

7 – Do you gaze at the sky and stars by night?

Not as such. I go outside to smoke, so I see it as and when.

8 – What do you think of the sky and stars by night?

I know a few constellations and I can pick them out. It doesn’t really make me feel small, or anything. What strikes me more is how they don’t look like what they’re supposed to – when I see a visual map of a human image of a hunter over Orion, say, I tend to wonder how anyone put that together in their heads and how it got cemented in history. I think it’s interesting how we’re primed to look for patterns. Not even that, really, as the pattern is obviously there, but how we’re desperate to make the patterns match our own experience when they don’t.

9 – What were you looking at before starting this questionnaire?

M John Harrison’s answers on his blog.

10 – What do cathedrals, churches, mosques, shrines, synagogues, and other religious monuments inspire in you?

It varies. Sometimes awe, sometimes disgust, sometimes nothing at all.

11 – What would you have “seen” had you been blind?

Well, nothing. The absence of one type of privilege maybe. I think it’s a shit and vaguely overly-romanticised question.

12 – What would you want to see if you were blind?

Everything.

13 – Are you afraid?

Not as a general rule. Sometimes.

14 – What of?

The usual things. Death of a loved one, my own death. Most of the time, when I dwell on whatever it is, it inspires sadness and melancholy rather than fear.

15 – What is the last weird film you’ve seen?

I never know what to make of ‘weird’. Whatever its technical definition, I tend to think of it as I think of Queer Theory – not just to do with the furniture, although that’s obviously a part, but also about a general messing with conventions and norms and what you expect going into something. Plus, I don’t get to watch films as often as I’d like. I’ll go with Lake Mungo. It presents itself as a straight-to-DVD “found-footage” Horror movie, but is actually much, much more interesting and affecting than that.

16 – Whom are you afraid of?

Nobody really. I don’t really get afraid of people or physical confrontation, or anything. I get more afraid, I think, of some nebulous idea of “confrontation”. Most people are more scared of the anticipation of something than the thing itself, and I’m no different.

17 – Have you ever been lost?

Yeah. It can be fun and interesting, or it can be fucking scary. Sometimes all of those at once. Often, it’s just irritating.

18 – Do you believe in ghosts?

Not in the supernatural sense.

19 – What is a ghost?

I believe that loss, regret, unresolved circumstances can affect the present. I suppose – boringly – that’s what a ghost symbolises to me.

20 – At this very moment, what sound(s) can you hear, apart from the computer?

My son drinking his bedtime milk.

21 – What is the most terrifying sound you’ve ever heard?–?for example, “the night was like the cry of a wolf”?

I can’t describe it, really, but the moment when the birth of my son went wrong: there was the beep of the equipment, the people rushing into the room, the shouted instructions that had nothing to do with me, my wife and I talking very quickly and faux-calmly to each other.

22 – Have you done something weird today or in the last few days?

I don’t think so.

23 – Have you ever been to confession?

No, and I never would.

24 – You’re at confession, so confess the unspeakable.

Again, I never would. It’s more important to admit these things to yourself. Saying it to someone else – the act of confession – seems like escapism, to me, childish, like wanting a nanny.

25 – Without cheating: what is a “cabinet of curiosities”?

I wouldn’t know how to cheat, so I probably don’t understand the question.

26 –Do you believe in redemption?

Yes.

27 – Have you dreamed tonight?

In an awake-way, I guess, same as always. But I haven’t been asleep yet.

28 – Do you remember your dreams?

Bits of them. It depends. I tend to meditate – careful, now – before going to sleep, and try to lucid dream, induce sleep-paralysis, etc. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it’s interesting. When it’s vivid, the details stay with you.

29?–?What was your last dream?

Last night. It involved black, glass corridors in a kind of museum. I was wandering round, conscious-ish, talking to the people that were there. It all made sense at the time, but, like most dreams, the backstory evaporates when you wake up and it just seems silly.

30 – What does fog make you think of?

Nothing specific.

31 – Do you believe in animals that don’t exist?

No. I don’t know how I would do that.

32 – What do you see on the walls of the room where you are?

Damp, cracks and a Rothko print. I’m not a massive fan of Rothko; it was just here when I moved in.

33 – If you became a magician, what would be the first thing you’d do?

Keep the secrets to myself. I know how a fair amount is done, and really, really admire the effort and technique that goes into it, but nothing beats the simple pleasure of seeing something unbelievable that you know has an explanation you can’t work out.

34 – What is a madman?

I don’t know.

35 – Are you mad?

No. I suffer from depression, and I take medication for it, but I’m not mad. I don’t have it very bad, in the grand scheme of things, and I get pissed off with the word, actually. When I see people in online arguments, or hear them in real life, blindly and stupidly saying things like “you need to take your meds!” (etc), I think of good friends who genuinely need to and lose my fucking temper. It’s a serious issue, and we should be fighting the stigma around it, not adding to it.

36 – Do you believe in the existence of secret societies?

I’m open to the possibility, but I don’t believe in them with any conviction.

37 – What was the last weird book you read?

Again, I’m not sure. Maybe The Islanders by Christopher Priest.

38 – Would you like to live in a castle?

Not particularly.

39 – Have you seen something weird today?

Not that stands out.

40 – What is the weirdest film you’ve ever seen?

I don’t know. Surely one thing weird should do is resist quantification and ranking?

41 – Would you like to live in an abandoned train station?

No. I’d like to visit one, but I imagine living in one would be fucking horrible. However you paint it, the circumstances would be ugly.

42 – Can you see the future?

Assuming I carry on living, I can see aspects of the future. I’d be massively surprised if I’m not making my son breakfast tomorrow, etc. Other bits, who knows? Most of the defining, life-changing things that have happened to me have come out of the blue, through no work or special effort on my part.

43?–?Have you considered living abroad?

Not seriously.

44 – Where?

I suppose I’d like to live in Italy. But is that serious? I don’t know. Maybe I’m confusing liking a place with wanting to live there, which are two very different things. There’s no country I’ve not enjoyed visiting. But I feel very at home in Leeds.

45 – Why?

Well, see above.

46 – What is the weirdest film you’ve ever owned?

Mystified by this question.

47 – Would you like to have lived in a vicarage?

No. But it wouldn’t have been much of a vicarage when I finished with it, etc, etc.

48 – What is the weirdest book you’ve ever read?

I don’t know.

49 – Which do you like better, globes or hourglasses?

Globes, without a doubt.

50 – Which do you like better, antique magnifying glasses or bladed weapons?

Bladed weapons. I’m not a violent person, but to me a katana is one of the most beautiful made objects in the world.

51 – What, in all likelihood, lies in the depths of Loch Ness?

Water – but we c0me back to the astrology thing again, where it doesn’t really matter. I was in Scotland for a wedding recently, and the minibus driver was talking about it. He said (along the lines of) “These are stories we tell, that have been told for years, long before other forms of entertainment like TV shows.” And, you know, who am I to piss on that? I don’t believe there’s a monster in Loch Ness, but I think there’s no harm in imagining it, and – in fact – a lot of pleasure in doing so. Your life’s the same either way. So why not imagine that, and believe it, if it makes life more interesting?

52 – Do you like taxidermied animals?

Not much. I don’t see the point in them.

53 – Do you like walking in the rain?

It depends.

54 – What goes on in tunnels?

That’s too vague to answer. But one of my childhood memories is lying on a patio with a friend, both of us stoned to fuck, debating what the difference between a tunnel and a hole is. I’m still not sure.

55 – What do you look at when you look away from this questionnaire?

There’s a cat asleep on a suitcase. The same suitcase, in fact, that I brought back from Scotland.

56 – What does this famous line inspire in you: “And when he had crossed the bridge, the phantoms came to meet him.”?

Nothing at all. Maybe I wonder why the phantoms didn’t cross the bridge the other way in the first place.

57 – Without cheating: where is that famous line from?

I don’t recognise it.

58 – Do you like walking in graveyards or the woods by night?

Not especially, but I like walking at night in places that are usually busy. A city centre at night – totally empty and silent – is interesting. The contrast makes it enjoyable. At night, graveyards and woods are usually just darker.

58 – Write the last line of a novel, short story, or book of the weird yet to be written.

And that was how it happened.

59 – Without looking at your watch: what time is it?

9.37 pm.

60 – Look at your watch. What time is it?

It’s 9.37 pm. No, I didn’t do this thing in an hour. But fuck it, honestly, I have a two-year-old son.

black flowers links / my best of 2011

Posted by on December 18th, 2011

Just a few me-related things. First off, Elizabeth White provides a totally lovely review of Black Flowers. There are also links at the bottom of that piece to the earlier reviews, etc, from when she very kindly hosted a week dedicated to me last year. The review is really nice, and much appreciated – thank you very much, APMonkey!

In related news, Luca Veste – a man who’s exploded onto the crime scene this year, and is the brains behind the Off The Record charity eBook you’ve all already bought – has picked his top 5 novels of the year, and Black Flowers is there, amongst lovely company. You can read the list here.

And finally, Luca – again – is hosting various writers’ ‘top 5s’ on his site. So you can read what I thought were the best 5 books of 2011 here. (It’s not true about the kitten, by the way).

 

Black Flowers reviews

Posted by on April 23rd, 2011

Okay, given Black Flowers came out last week, I thought I’d collate a few initial reviews and things.

Laura Wilson gave it a nice mention in the Guardian:

“Tense and gripping, this is a fascinating exploration of the often uncomfortable – and in this case lethal – shape-shifting relationship between fiction and reality.”

Read more here.

Then we have the Madhouse Family Review, which says:

“It’s a literary Russian doll with a novel inside a novel and at times it’s hard to work out what is fact and what is fiction – or, more confusingly, what is fiction about to become fact or fiction that has been repeated so often it’s become fact … It’s a tense, chilling … part crime novel, part horror fiction but above all, a psycholgical thriller as you thrash around blindly in a darkened hall of mirrors, trying to work out what is going on and where it is all leading.”

More here.

Robin Jarossi of Shotsmag comes to much the same conclusion here:

“The narrative is intricate, at times tricky, but ultimately rewarding for the reader … Black Flowers is a cleverly constructed hall of mirrors. The narratives twist and turn so much that it is easy to miss where it is stretching plausibility, but it is intriguing and reaches a pulsating, horrific climax.”

Crimesquad were also kind enough to run a review:

“Mosby went for quantity over quality and this took away the believability factor for me, which in all honesty took the edge off my enjoyment … However, other than this, I found the plot in general to be novel and was unable to put the book down, although in parts the plot was a little predictable.”

More here – though that link will have to change. (Note to self, really).

The News of the World (Scotland) says:

“With an ending as chilling as anything Stephen King has written, it’s essential reading for crime fans.”

Which is lovely. It’s possible they also ran an interview with me, but I’m not 100% sure it happened. If so, it will have been in the print edition along with the review.

Keith B Walters gave it a fantastic review, saying, amongst other things:

“It will keep you guessing, it will have you wondering but, above all, it will have you gripped reading it right until the last page … A really spooky, dark and gripping read – just what we’ve come to expect from Mr Mosby, but I think he’s raised the bar with this.”

Thank you very much to Keith. Read more here.

There’s a fantastic one from Mat Coward at the Morning Star online:

“Black Flowers will surely be one of 2011’s most talked about crime novels. It combines a rare level of tension and readability with writing as fresh and precise as good poetry and a plot that’s as original as it is chilling.”

Full review here.

Last but not least, Paul Connolly in the Metro said:

“Steve Mosby should be up there with the Mark Billinghams of the crime-horror genre… Mosby’s narrative ingenuity quickly establishes itself and this exacting, often terrifying, tale…soon exerts an irresistible grip.”

I can’t find an online link to that, but feel honour bound to point out it wasn’t a 100% positive review, but nice all the same.

Thanks to everyone who reviewed the book – much appreciated.

There’s also this, which is an interview I did for Al Guthrie’s site on eBooks. Really enjoyed doing it, so thanks to Al for asking – and be sure to check out the rest of the site while you’re there.

I think that’s everything. Apologies if I’ve missed anything or anyone. Give me a nudge if so.

And … relax.