Dr Kathy Reichs. I will be sitting on a panel with her entitled ‘Truly Criminal: The Inspiration Behind Cases’ on Saturday 4th March. She is one of the world’s most famous crime authors (the Temperance Brennan series, creator of the Bones TV series), and someone I have been reading for a long time. Like most authors I am, first and foremost, a reader – and there are many authors like Kathy Reichs that I have always wanted to meet.
Which book has inspired you the most?
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I read this book as a teenager and it completely changed my idea of what was possible in the novel form. Incredible world-building, amazing characters, high adventure, and such precise attention to detail (right down to the wonderful names of characters and places), this is a book that transcends its genre, and one I recommend anyone serious about reading (or writing) to pick up.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
I smack my mobile phone to stop the 5 a.m. alarm, fall out of bed, gulp a glass of orange juice, open my laptop, and begin writing. I have a full time job, so the mornings are when I do most of my writing – or on the journey to work on the famous (and famously overcrowded) London Tube trains.
What is your life’s motto?
Read something every day. I cannot remember a day since I was a boy that I haven’t read something, even if it is just a couple of pages before I sleep. If you want to be a writer you have to read, a lot!
Our theme for the 2017 Festival is Journeys. Can you tell us which journeys in your life have been most memorable?
The journey that changed my life was to India in 1997, and indeed is the reason why my Baby Ganesh detective agency series features a baby elephant (as a sidekick to the lead detective, Inspector Chopra). I arrived there aged 23 to work as a management consultant. I still remember my first day vividly. I was sat in a taxi at a set of traffic lights watching the passing traffic – honking rickshaws, hooting trucks, whizzing motorbikes, cows, goats and dogs – when I saw, lumbering through this chaos, the surreal sight of an enormous grey Indian elephant. At that moment I fell in love with these incredible creatures and when I got back to the UK a decade later and decided to put those wonderful memories of India into a novel I knew elephants would have to be involved. My series aims to take readers on this journey with me back to modern India – and will be the focus of my solo talk at 11.30am on Sat 4th March. If you really want to know what India looks like, sounds like, smells like and even tastes like do come along to my talk!