Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Pro-File Mat Coward

Pro-File Mat Coward

Mat Coward leads a double life as a crime writer. In the UK, he is well known as a specialist in the short story; his extremely diverse work has been published in many anthologies and magazines and has earned Dagger and Edgar nominations. In the USA, in contrast, he is now well-established as author of a series of novels featuring police detectives Don Packham and Frank Mitchell; enterprising US publishers have also brought out a book-length collection of his tales of mystery and imagination and a novella is in the works



1. Tell us about your current novel.
"Open and Closed" is the fourth (or fourth-and-a-half, if you count a novella) in a series about London cops, DI Don Packham and DC Frank Mitchell. It’s set in a public library, threatened with closure, which is being occupied by its readers as a protest - until one of them is found dead. I used to work in public libraries, from my late teens to my mid-twenties, and have always thought they’re a great setting for fiction. You’ve got everything you need in a library: a diverse and dynamic population, sex, loathing, and hiding places.

2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?
With great delight, I am not writing at all: I have a four month contract as a researcher on a TV panel game.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?
Not having to go to work, because you’re already there. That lack of rush in the mornings is worth a lot.

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?
Writing.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?
I’ve never understood why publishers spend all their money on books that they already know are going to be best-sellers.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?
There’s one: in the last days of apartheid in South Africa, a few crime novels by Wessel Ebersohn were published in Britain. They were terrific. I’m always asking people "Whatever happened to Ebersohn?" but no-one seems to know. I’ve even prayed to Lord Google for guidance, but to no avail.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.
I just remember being astonished.

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