Quentin Bates is the author of six crime fiction novels and the translator of Ragnar JÃ³nasson and Lilja SigurÃ°ardÃ³ttir novels. His new novel, ‘Cold Breath’ is published by Constable on the 11th October.
- To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing
Iâ€™ve been a journalist for quite a few years â€“ nothing wildly exciting, as I write mostly about shipping â€“ so it was a side-step into books and fiction. I did a creative writing course, mainly so I could have an afternoon a week off work, and the first book in the series grew out of that course â€“ even though I had gone into it expecting to come out writing non-fiction.
- Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming book, â€˜Cold Breathâ€™?
â€˜Cold Breathâ€™ is the latest in a series that centres around a ReykjavÃk police officer called Gunnhildur GÃsladÃ³ttir who has solved a good few murders before now. In this book things are a little different, as I wanted to take her out of her comfort zone entirely, so instead of hunting a criminal, she has been assigned to be a bodyguard for a visitor to Iceland who has a price on his head. The two of them have little in common and donâ€™t like each other a great deal, and it isnâ€™t clear if the mysterious visitor is everything he claims to be. Thatâ€™s about all I can say without giving away any spoilers.
- If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
Lilja SigurÃ°ardÃ³ttir (whose books I translate into English) because Lilja is loads of fun. Dominique Manotti and William Ryan, John Lawton, John le CarrÃ© and Len Deighton and because I love their books. Barbara Nadel because she has a wicked sense of humour, and writes brilliant books. My old friend GuÃ°laugur Arason because he was, like me, a seafarer, and heâ€™s a fascinating character. And maybe Douglas Adams…
- Why did you decide to write crime?
Iâ€™m not entirely sure. It was something I had been tinkering with for a while and when it came to it, it was almost a snap decision to go down the fiction route. As I said, I had expected to be firmly shackled to non-fiction rather than crime novels, but sometimes these decisions seems to take themselves.
- Is there anything that you would change about your writing journey?
I would have liked to have started earlier, and a little more confidence at the outset would have been ideal.
- Whoâ€™s your favourite villain?
The chilling General Carmona, the Hairless Mexican from one of Somerset Maughamâ€™s Ashenden stories.
- Whatâ€™s your favourite opening line from a book?
â€˜It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.â€™
â€˜Earthly Powersâ€™ by Anthony Burgess
- Whatâ€™s your favourite book of all time?
Itâ€™s hard to tell, as there are so many. Itâ€™s probably â€˜The Hitch-Hikerâ€™s Guide to the Galaxyâ€™.
- If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
â€˜The Hitch-Hikerâ€™s Guide to the Galaxyâ€™ (preferably the omnibus edition of the whole trilogy in four parts), Sakiâ€™s collected short stories and â€˜The Code of the Woostersâ€™ by PG Wodehouse. On a desert island, Iâ€™d need something that raises a laugh.
- What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
Just concentrate on the story and donâ€™t let yourself get sidetracked. Donâ€™t be afraid to cut stuff that doesnâ€™t work. Try to do something on your WiP most days, even if itâ€™s just a few words, as it keeps it ticking over in your mind. Donâ€™t ask your Mumâ€™s opinion of your work â€“ ask someone who doesnâ€™t love you.
- When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
As little as possible. Preferably nothing more than a table with a keyboard and a screen.
- And finally, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
Right now Iâ€™m back in translation mode, working on two more books by Lilja SigurÃ°ardÃ³ttir, Cage which will appear in English in 2019, and Betrayal in 2020, as well as the translation of IndriÃ°i G Thorsteinssonâ€™s Cab 79 which has just been published. Thereâ€™s my own stuff as well, which is on the back burner at the moment. Thereâ€™s a story thatâ€™s brewing, but Iâ€™m not sure yet if this will be Gunnhildur or something different.
You can buy Cold Breath from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.