It was the witchyness again. In the past few months I’ve come closer to Ambrose Parry than most of the other big Scottish crime writers I am capable of recognising in the wild. By that I don’t mean I’ve been stalking him [them] but just that we’ve ended up in the same doorways several times. So that will be why Ambrose [was] volunteered to answer my silly questions to mark the 2019 McIlvanney prize at this year’s Bloody Scotland, where his The Way of All Flesh is one of the shortlisted hopefuls.
Though it appears it really was Chris Brookmyre, despite me suggesting some split personal history between the two halves of Ambrose Parry. I suppose it would have ended up with arguments over who read Enid Blyton and who didn’t…
So, here he [they] is [are]:
How many books did you write before the one that was your first published book?
Four. I made the mistake of trying to write what I thought publishers wanted. When I wrote for my own amusement, I got a deal.
Best place for inspiration?
Outdoors. Doesn’t matter where, as along as I’m walking.
Would you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Perhaps you already do?
I write with my wife Marisa Haetzman under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry.
What would you never write about?
Nothing. I have learned that the things you forswear can end up central to a subsequent book.
Through your writing: the most unexpected person you’ve met, or the most unexpected place you’ve ended up in?
Playing Glastonbury as part of the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers. I can’t think of any other confluence of events that could have seen me playing guitar on-stage at one of the world’s biggest music festivals.
Which of your characters would you most like to be?
None of them. Even the cool ones are beset by horrible things that I would not wish for myself.
Do you think that having a film made of one of your books would be a good or a bad thing?
Unequivocally a good thing. Having your work reinterpreted by someone else in a different medium is both flattering and exciting. Even if they arse it up.
What is the strangest question you’ve been asked at an event?
‘Can I bring up this book [on-stage] to be signed so that I don’t have to wait?’
Do you have any unexpected skills?
I used to be pretty good at Quake 2 and Quake 3 twenty years ago. These abilities were of limited assistance in my day job.
The Famous Five or Narnia?
I grew up on Douglas Adams and Tolkien. Blyton and Lewis were too twee for my taste.
Who is your most favourite Swede?
Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth. He brings dry humour to progressive death metal.
How do you arrange your books at home? In a Billy? By colour, or alphabetically?
I don’t even want to think about this. There is no sense, no reason, no arrangement. Just chaos. It haunts me.
Which book would you put in the hands of an unwilling eight-year-old boy reader?
You’re A Bad Man, Mr Gum by Andy Stanton. If he isn’t laughing out loud after about three pages, he’s unsavable.
If you have to choose between reading or writing, which would it be?
Writing. It’s a need that does not sleep.
Hmm, well… More Swedes I’ve never heard of. Quake 2 and Quake 3?? I’m pleased the young Ambrose/Chris was good at it. And my victims must be getting younger. It’s not natural to have been brought up on Douglas Adams, but it does explain rather a lot.
And really, playing Glastonbury is cooler than meeting Obama. I don’t reckon anyone will be able to top this on here. Ever.