In this month’s blog I continue my series of crime & thriller fiction author interviews by chatting with Guy Gardner. We discuss his writing journey, the importance of historical accuracy in period-set crime fiction, and his upcoming release The Apprentice Thief.
I started by asking him to tell me a bit about himself.
I have reached the ripe age of 48. I spent most of my working life making music (mostly jazz), although I did do a fair assortment of jobs after I left school including being a dustman, working in a brewery and delivery driving. All through this though, I would practise the piano until it got to the point I could play well enough to do gigs. I also went to university and studied music this was in 1997. I trained as a teacher as well, working first in a prison and then in a college. But although I enjoyed teaching in front of a class, I ended up teaching the piano one to one which has been and continued to be very rewarding for me. I never considered writing at first, but I think the urge to do it came from doing a lot of long car journeys to gigs or to various teaching jobs. I started wondering about all the different houses I saw on the way, all the different people and stories that lived within them. That was when I became really interested in trying to write stories.
Your latest book The Mirror Game is set in 1920s London. Why did you choose that historical period?
It was a strange time, the period between the wars. No one really thought that the whole world would go to war, and once it had happened, they worried that it would happen again, which of course it did. It was a dark time and that was something that interested me, as well as the idea if what people would be like who came back from the trenches. How would they fit back into society? These questions sort of ended up forming Harry Lark, the flawed hero in my book.
In your opinion, how important is historical accuracy in a period-set crime fiction novel? How do you research the period (if you do)?
It is very important to get it right. Having said that I think the key is to read a lot research a lot and then not try to write a book about history rather let it inform your writing. I tried to aim for key details that would be immersive for the reader. Some of those things are artefacts ie Harry has a cigarette lighter made from a brass cartridge; something that was very common for soldiers to have, but also there are things like how he saw the world after the war, which are just as important, and that is down to knowing your character.
You have a new book coming out soon, could you tell us what it’s about and the inspiration behind it?
I never started out with the idea I would write things set in different times. But I love this idea that through words, you can immerse yourself and hopefully others in a time that they will never see that they will experience a little bit of that. I suppose what I really love as well is how much of a challenge some things could be. This latest story called The Apprentice Thief, is set in the 1890’s and is about a young boy who lives a fairly idyllic life with a group of travelling barge people. When a tragedy befalls them he has to move to London with his mother. They are quickly pulled into the criminal underworld and he is forced to learn to become a thief. When his mother disappears he searches London and eventually has to make the dangerous journey to Bombay, the city of his birth, to discover what happened.
What advice would you give to others embarking upon their author journey?
It is a cliché but just keep going. You may have to write several books before you really find your groove, but if you love doing it then this will not be a challenge because you will have a great time in the process.
I’d like to thank Guy for taking the time to chat with me, it’s great to get another crime fiction writer’s perspective on the process, research, and more. The Apprentice Thief is out now — it’s going on my ‘To Be Read’ pile! You can follow Guy through his Amazon and Goodreads pages. You can also claim a free eBook by signing up to his newsletter on his website. The links to all this can be found below.
~ T.G. Campbell, September 2023
THE MIRROR & THE THIEF:
An Interview with Guy Gardner