Interview with Crime Time
Crime Time: There’s an awful lot of crime writing out there. What can you offer that will mark you out from the rest?
Simon Levack:I could say the setting, Aztec Mexico, which is as colourful as anyone could wish. I hope it is the character of the hero that will draw readers in. His background and station in life mean that he lives permanently on a knife-edge, in one of the most dangerous societies in history, and the tension that arises from this, and how he deals with it, are what dries the whole novel.
CT: Again, with so many authors fighting for the same market, how do you feel about writers being promoted for reasons other than their books – i.e. their looks?
SL:I’m no oil painting myself, but I can’t say it troubles me. Writers who rely on being promoted for their looks are bound to have short careers. Who’s going to persevere reading a boring book just because there’s a pretty picture on the back cover?
CT: How do you avoid the clichés of crime writing?
SL: Every genre, be it crime, romance, fantasy or whatever, has its conventions. I think the trick is to use them in novel and interesting ways.
CT: Is it necessary to up the ante with erotic elements in the modern crime novel?
SL: Sex is too important a part of life to ignore, but I can’t see the point of using it merely to shock or provide some sort of frisson. Crime novels tend to be about violent death, after all, and an author who can’t write about that in such a way as to shock or thrill the reader is probably in the wrong business.
CT: What do you dislike about most crime writing? Or are you an omnivorous consumer?
SL: I suppose I’m an omnivore. What I like best a genuine mystery and a hero I can identify with, for all his faults. I think this sort of book will still be read long after the current fashion for loony serial killers and detectives who are basket cases themselves has run its course.