When I lived in Brazil, I did a lot of work around the gangs of Rio. It was often hair-raising stuff: nights spent in the city’s most dangerous favelas [slums]; riding the streets with undercover cops and glove compartments stuffed with guns; interviewing drug traffickers and crime-bosses. In 2006 an academic at Yale University approached me to write a piece about these experiences. The essay in this volume was the result.
I was rather pleased to be invited to contribute to this: I was the debut novelist among more famous names such as Lee Child and Ian Rankin. The book is a primer on how to write crime and thrillers. If you’re an aspiring novelist in either of these genres, it’s an essential guide. My essay was on ‘Thrillers that sell’, with my key pieces of advice being that you need an original concept and to write a real page-turner. Originally published by Arvon, it is now part of the Writers’ & Artists’ Companion series (Bloomsbury).
Once again I found myself in an anthology bursting with august company this time including Antony Beevor, Henry Kissinger and Hilary Mantel. Each contributor was asked to choose their favourite quote about history and write a short commentary. I chose the following from Orwell, ‘History is written by the winners’. All royalties from the book were donated to support research into Parkinson’s disease.