Writers Abroad Magazine 6 May 2017 - Page 24

WRITERS ABROAD MAGAZINE: THE THIRD SPACE Tell us about your most recently-published novel. What was the inspiration behind it? My latest published novel is the sixth and final book in the Enzo Files series— ‘Cast Iron’. The Enzo Files is set in France. The series revolves around an ex-pat Scot and former forensics expert teaching biology at a university in Toulouse. Following a bet taken one night after drinking wine with friends, he tasks himself with re-opening 7 famous French cold cases, believing that by applying the latest scientific techniques, he’ll be able to solve them. Compared to my China Thrillers or the Lewis Trilogy the Enzo books are lighter in tone, although Enzo has personal tragedy in his past, and complications in his present. The relationships between him, his family and friends develop across the six books. My French research for the Enzo books, led to an investigation of the elite schools that churn out the country’s leaders. I’ve also gone behind the doors of the Foreign Legion, been up mountains, down the Parisian sewer systems and through the catacombs beneath the city. I’ve travelled in every direction from Breton islands into the deep dark interior of la France Profonde. I had an unforgettable time with one of France’s top chefs, Michel Bras, following his work and routines, and eating ‘en famille’ with him. My research around the vineyards of Gaillac culminated in the winemakers' professional confrerie inducting me into their order as a ‘Chevalier de l’ordre de la Dive Bouteille’. In Bordeaux I explored the city’s red light district and courts and visited the high security prison at Lannemezan. Do you have a favourite and/or a least favourite character from your books? What makes them appealing or not to you? Enzo was a pleasure to write. I’ve a real soft spot for him. Although Enzo’s a big guy, he’s not tough. The cold cases that he’s working on are featured in a book by a Parisian journalist. When Enzo solves the first one, the resulting publicity means that the killers, who thought they’d got away with crimes, know that Enzo is coming for them. There are several attempts on his life. In his fifties, his strengths are cerebral rather than physical, so he’s not very well equipped for violent encounters. How do you relax when you’re not writing? Real relaxation is at the seaside where I can walk along the promenade and eat at small restaurants serving fresh, locally caught fish! On promotional trips I’ve been to the UK, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. How do you cope with rejection? ‘The Blackhouse’ was turned down by every publisher in the UK. It was psychologically devastating, as I believed it was the best thing I’d ever written. Several years later my French publisher read it, loved it and bought the rights to publish. It came out in France and was declared ‘a masterpiece’ by L’Humanité newspaper, and won a slew of literary awards. The book, first in a trilogy, has sold millions of copies worldwide. 23 | MAY 2017