Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Author Interview: Graham Smith
Tell us about the Harry Charters Chronicles
The Harry Charters Chronicles are a collection of short stories and flash fiction featuring a 1950’s gumshoe detective who is haunted by a case which went terribly wrong. Each story sees him climb out of the bottom of his self pity bottle to mete out his own brand of justice.
What inspired you to write it?
Kate Pilarcik invited me to submit a Noir piece for her blog and I wrote the first Harry Charters story Detecting Malicious Murder. In my naivety I thought Noir was exclusive to the old black and white movies which is why whenever I write Harry Charters I have Humphrey Bogart doing the voiceover in my head. This is very cool and as soon I hear that voice I’m ready to fly at the keyboard.
Unlike writers such as Nick Quantrill and Ray Banks who write about places they know you favour a US setting for much of your writing. Can you tell us why?
I tend to be undiscriminating when it comes to locations. I will set the story wherever it feels best for the characters. Most of the stories in 11 The Hard Way are without named locations. They would fit in London, Canberra, Paris, New York or Leighton Buzzard. The one I did set in my home town of Gretna Green is called There Goes the Bride and location is very important to the story.
With Harry Charters I have striven to create a nameless, faceless and locationless character. Kate Pilarcik bullied me into giving him a name but he is not getting a face or a fixed location. He lives, drinks and occasionally works in an American city called Mariscoper which has a river, docks and a college. Mariscoper does not feature on any map (I’ve actually checked on Google maps) Mariscoper was created because I needed to name the college that Sarge’s son attended when I was writing The Smell of Perfume. I was too enthused with the story to stop and do proper research so a quick look at Google maps gave me ideas for the name of his city. This also allows me to do whatever I want both to and in the city without ever getting it wrong, provided of course I don’t contradict my previous references to the city.
How much of your writing drawn from real experience?
Very little is drawn from my real life although the story Honeymoon Hassle which is in 11 The Hard Way is a based on events which happened to my wife and I on our honeymoon. Watching her read if for the first time was fantastic as she realised it was our story. The characters have our middle names. As for all the rest of it, I’m a writer, I make shit up!
What are you reading at the moment?
Lucifer’s Tears by James Thompson. It’s the first of his I’ve read and I’m loving it.
Are you working on a new story or novel at the moment?
I’m finishing off draft one of my novel and then I’m gonna have a month away from it and then go back and start on the massive edit it needs. In the month off I plan to knock out a number of short stories which I’ll share around the interweb. I also plan to write a Harry Charters novella at some point fairly soon.
Where can my readers find you online?
I have a few pieces up at places like the ones listed below and a blog or website of my own will be coming soon.
The Mourning After and Pursuit
The Whine Cellar
Mathematics of Humanity
Detecting Malicious Murder + All A Broad
What is the best piece of writing craft advice you have been given?
Knowing that I write by the seat of my pants, Zoe Sharp advised me to write a short synopsis after writing each chapter so that I would have notes about events, characters etc.
Which author(s) would you say have most influenced your writing?
None especially and all of them collectively. Whether the book has been good or bad I’ve learned something from it, even if it is what not to do.
What are your strengths as a writer? What do you feel you do well?
I think my strengths of my writing are the twists I put in and the little details which flesh things out. I also think that I am fairly good at creating tension for both reader and character.
What are your weaknesses? Where do you feel you could improve?
Editing is my biggest weakness and I have to be really strict with myself to not give it a quick once over and consider it done. Dialogue is an area where I feel I could do with improving along with the whole general I want to write better feeling every writer has.
If you had to pick a soundtrack to your novel what songs would you pick?
I would have a bluesy jazz soundtrack for Harry Charters Chronicles as it fits the era and the atmosphere.
Describe for our readers the genre(s) you write in and why they appeal to you as a writer.
I write mostly crime fiction from the hardboiled / noir end of the spectrum. Sometimes I dip my toe into the murky waters of psychological thrillers and I’m quite comfortable with ironic or satirical pieces so long as there is still a crime element in there somewhere.