Interview with Andrew Cartmel: part 2

Andrew Cartmel will be at Brompton Library on Monday 24 September, 6.30pm taking about his career and work and signing copies of his Vinyl Detective crime novels – Written in Dead Wax, The Run Out Groove and Victory.  You can book a place here on Eventbrite 

This is the second part of our interview with him; you can find the first part here

The fourth book is on its way, tell us about that.

It’s called Flip Back and it deals with the British psychedelic folk scene of the late 1960s and early ’70s. Among my research for that I read an excellent book called White Bicycles by Joe Boyd.

What were some of your musical inspirations from the 60s and 70s?

Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell.

I read in another interview with you that each of the Vinyl Detective novels has a spirit animal.  How does that help you with writing the novels and why is this important to you?

It’s just something that arose without me thinking about it. I am fascinated by animals and wildlife, and very fond of them, and appalled by their treatment at the hands of humans. So that just sort of naturally wove its way into my writing. When I became aware of what I was doing, I made it more deliberate. And started referring to it by that ‘spirit animal’ malarkey… though it’s certainly malarkey I genuinely subscribe to.

Are there any plans to make the books into a TV series or film?

My agent regularly gets enquiries, which have so far led to one serious meeting but nothing further than that.

And finally, we can’t leave without mentioning Doctor Who.  You worked as a show runner and script editor on the TV series, and have since written many of the Doctor Who comics.  What was it like to work on such a classic show?

It was a privilege. It was also the gift which keeps on giving, in the sense that it’s given me a calling card which never expires, and has led to me meeting a lot of interest people and travelling all over the world.

Were you a fan before you worked on the show?

No.

You have written novels, audio dramas, television scripts, graphic novels and also several stage plays.  Which genre do you prefer?

Each has its own particular appeal and its own unique challenges. I like switching from one to the other. But my two favourites are the novel, for its intimacy and clarity of expression, and the stage play for the magic it conjures up through taking place in real time, with real people, in a shared space.

The graphic novel Sabrina by Nick Drnaso has been longlisted for the Booker Prize this year.  How easy or difficult do you think it might be to judge a graphic novel against a traditional novel?

I don’t see how you can compare the two forms.

 What three pieces of advice would you give any aspiring writers out there?

Keep your covering emails very brief. Give your characters interesting names. Have your work read by people you know, whom you can trust to be ruthless — or at least honest — and seriously consider their feedback before you send it out and waste the time of an agent or editor.

What’s next for you?

Finishing the fourth Vinyl Detective, then rewriting a stage play, then writing a new stage play, then writing a graphic novel for the Rivers of London series, which I co-write with Ben Aaronovitch.

Thank you for your time Andrew and very much looking forward to meeting you on 24  September at Brompton Library.

Interview with Andrew Cartmel: part 1

Andrew Cartmel was the show runner on Doctor Who for the entire Sylvester McCoy seventh Doctor era. He has written many novels and graphic novels including the Dr Who comics Evening’s Empire and The Good Soldier. Andrew is currently collaborating with author, Ben Aaronovitch on writing the bestselling Rivers of London comics.

He’ll be at Brompton Library on Monday 24 September, 6.30pm taking about his career and work and signing copies of his Vinyl Detective crime novels – Written in Dead Wax, The Run Out Groove and Victory.  You can book a place here on Eventbrite 

In the meantime, Andrew has very kindly answered some questions for us –

Tell us about the Vinyl Detective series.

I’ve been writing for most of my life, in our form or another. Since I left university I’ve been writing for a living, or at least trying to. But the Vinyl Detective books are the first time I feel I’ve entirely succeeded.

The Vinyl Detective is very evocative of the day to day realities of city life – grass verges, council estates, broken boilers – not glamorous or exotic in any way!  It is definitely different to what you have called the current trend for “Danish disembowelment” novels.  Why was this setting important to you?

I wanted to write what I know. You might also call it low-hanging fruit!

I have read that you are an avid vinyl fan, what made you want to write detective novels based around vinyl?

My friend Ben Aaronovitch had written what became a bestselling series of novels — The Rivers of London books. I asked him what the secret was. He told me to write about what I genuinely loved. And I genuinely love record collecting, and crime fiction.

Andrew with his cat, Molly

What was the first record you bought?

The soundtrack to (the first version of) Casino Royale featuring a superb music score by Burt Bacharach and a knock-out song (‘The Look of Love’) sung by Dusty Springfield. It’s a classic and it remains a favourite of mine.

And what was the last record you bought?

Stan Tracey’s Jazz Suite to Under Milk Wood (inspired by the Dylan Thomas poem). The original Lansdowne mono pressing, of course.

You didn’t start out in crime fiction, what where some of the influences that lead you into crime writing?

I admire Raymond Chandler a lot, but for my money the greatest crime writer of the golden age (roughly the 1930s and 1940s) was Dashiell Hammett. His terse, cynical, realistic style hasn’t dated at all (read The Maltese Falcon). But a more profound influence came somewhat later. John D. MacDonald is, I think, the finest crime writer of them all. He’s a hero of mine. He wrote dozens of excellent novels, notably the Travis McGee series. More recently, I tremendously admire Thomas Harris, best known for creating Hannibal Lecter.

You must have spent a lot of time researching the books, tell us about that?

A lot of it is, as I said, low hanging fruit. Because I write about a world I already know well. But I will also do specific research. In my third book, Victory Disc, I dealt with a crime originating in the RAF bombing campaigns of World War 2. At the end of the novel I acknowledged the two superb books I drew on for the factual background, one by Max Hastings and one by Len Deighton.

Many thanks, Andrew – we’ll be back next week with part 2. 

Calling all comic fans!

Save the date – Saturday 7 May is free Comic Book Day! And libraries are taking part, courtesy of the lovely folks at Forbidden Planet who are providing the comics to us.

FCDRBKC

Across North America and around the world, comic shops will be giving away free comics.

Free Comic Book Day is the perfect occasion for newcomers to comics as well as those who have been reading them for years to celebrate comics and discover new titles that debut on the first Saturday in May,” said Free Comic Book Day spokesperson Dan Manser.

You can collect yours from your local library! Why not check out their graphic novel collections while you are there and see what else your library has to offer.

There is a Dr Who title, a Superhero Girls title and selected libraries will also have Suicide Squad (suitable for teens and over only).

Look for the posters in participating libraries, or see the list below. One title per customer, while stocks last.

Kensington Central, Notting Hill Gate, Kensal, Brompton, North Kensington

 

Kensington Central Library – November 2013

Kensington Central Library
Kensington Central Library

Hello to you all from the staff at Kensington Central Library. It’s been yet another busy month here and we’ve lots to tell you about from displays, to events to service changes.

Who’s Who?

Dr Who display at Kensington Central Library
Dr Who display at Kensington Central Library

We  decided to honour the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who with a display of some of the many books we have in stock on this landmark TV series. 50 years! How did that happen? A blink of an eye for a Time Lord but a half century for us humans.

I have distinct childhood memories of the Doctor’s adventures through space and time, beamed to me via an old three channel Radio Rentals TV (Google it kids!) that stood in one corner of my childhood home. There are the Daleks of course but also the Cybermen as well as the dreaded, and to a six or seven year old me, utterly terrifying Sea Devils. “My” Doctor was Jon Pertwee, the dandy and expert in Venusian Aikido. Favourite Pertwee episode, “The Green Death” the one with the giant maggots!

Amazingly for such a popular and innovative show it was axed by the BBC for a number of years, a relief to me as it seemed that the later incarnations of the Doctor lacked punch and the storylines were laughable. Now of course it is hard to imagine the show being absent from the schedules given that new life has been breathed into the franchise once more. Eccleston, Tennant, Smith and now Malcom Tucker!

Who would have thought?

Mike Green
Mike Green

 Mike Green

Senior Customer Services Assistant

 London History Festival 2013

London History Festival 2013
London History Festival 2013

We’re really lucky to host the London History Festival for the fifth time at Kensington  Central Library – it’s such a fantastic opportunity to hear about our history spoken and debated about with such passion. Last week we had Sir Max Hastings speak about the First World War and Dan Snow and Marc Morris talk about medieval England.

Dan Snow and Marc Morris - signing books!
Dan Snow and Marc Morris – signing books!

Next week there are three events and a few tickets are still available:

  • Monday 25 November (TONIGHT!) – Antonia Fraser talks about The Great Reform Bill of 1832
  • Tuesday 26 November – Saul David and Col. Stuart Tootal discuss the British Army and its soldiers
  • Thursday 28 November – Artemis Cooper talks about the life and times of writer Patrick Leigh Fermor

There are more details on our events page – hope to see you there!

New displays

More new book displays this month include tributes to Doris Lessing and John F. Kennedy. Both these displays have items from our Biography Collection.

 Biography Collection – temporarily closed

And speaking of which – we will be getting new shelving in the basement where this collection is housed so we won’t be able to retrieve any items from later this month until February 2014. We’re really sorry for any inconvenience caused. Please speak to a member of staff if you need more information.

Jodie Green, Lending Librarian
Jodie Green

Jodie Green

Lending Librarian