Steve Mosby is the author of six previous novels including The 50/50 Killer, Still Bleeding and Black Flowers, which has been short-listed for the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Novel Of The Year, after already picking up a CWA Dagger.
Prior to the release of his latest title, Dark Room, he took some time for a chat.
Tell us a bit about Dark Room.
It’s about a detective called Hicks, who has a somewhat matter-of-fact attitude to crime. He doesn’t believe in evil, and relies heavily on logic and statistics to solve murders. To him, they always happen for banal, ordinary reasons: lust and jealousy; anger; greed; etc – so he categorises them as bedroom crimes, or bar room crimes, or boardroom crimes, and so on. But then he has to deal with a murderer who flies against all that, who appears to be killing a lot of people entirely at random, and Hicks has to try to break the pattern.
It’s my attempt at a fairly straightforward police procedural. After Black Flowers, which has a really elaborate structure, I wanted to do something that moved forward in a more traditional way.
All of your previous novels have been stand-alone tales. Is this the case with Dark Room?
Yes, it is. The original plan was to take Hicks into the next book as well, but it didn’t work out that way. The world laughs at my plans.
Black Flowers has been up for (and won) awards recently. How do you enjoy receiving recognition like this and what’s it like competing against other authors?
Well, it’s lovely to be nominated for stuff, and it’s lovely to win too, but I don’t think you can take that kind of stuff too seriously. It’s really good to get a nod, and cool to see my name appearing on shortlists that have such amazing authors on them. Flattering company, to say the least.
I don’t really see myself or my books in competition, exactly. I’m a fan as well as an author, and it’s good to see someone rewarded and getting recognition for writing a brilliant book, even if that someone isn’t me.
Your early novels had a sci-fi element. What made you move away from that into more traditional crime writing?
To be honest, it was an accident. It just turned out that the third book I had in mind – The 50/50 Killer – had no SF elements in it at all. And that’s the way it’s continued since. The thing about crime is that it’s a really broad genre, and I find that whatever idea I start to get interested in, I can work it into a crime narrative. I’ve kept some horror elements, though, and I do like to experiment with structure, which I suppose is a vaguely SF-ish trait. And when I do short stories (which isn’t often), they don’t tend to be straightforward crime either, so there are still outlets if I get an urge to weird things out a bit.
Still Bleeding is a very dark tale of murder and suicide and it’s just about my personal favourite of yours. Do you have a favourite yourself?
I’m pretty fond of Still Bleeding, in terms of what the book does. I was pleased with the ways the separate stories resolved: the endings I could give the characters. So I do like that one too.
Hard to pick an overall favourite though. The 50/50 Killer opened doors for me, and feels like a book where I began to figure out what I was doing, so I’ll always have affection for it. And Black Flowers turned out well, I think, given how inaccessible it could potentially have been. Least favourite is easy: The Cutting Crew. That’s probably the only one I’d go back and change. There are a couple of scenes I’d tone down, and a few themes I’d try to tie together better. But you do the best you can. That’s all you can do.
I remember reading about a possible film version of The 50/50 Killer. Any news on that or any other potential film adaptations?
All still up in the air a bit. There have been a few options, but the way it works is that you just sign things off and only believe it’ll ever happen when you’re watching it with your own eyes. Cry For Help came to nothing. 50/50 is still ongoing in France, and the last I heard they were hoping to start filming this winter. I really hope that happens; I’d be really intrigued to see how they handle it. Black Flowers is in development too, but it’s early doors on that. So essentially, nothing concrete to report.
Good luck with the awards and with Dark Room.
Dark Room by Steve Mosby is published by Orion and will be available from 19th July 2012. For more information visit the author’s website at www.theleftroom.co.uk