Today we are talking with the thriller writer, Roger Smith. Roger was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. His thrillers Capture, Dust Devils, Wake Up Dead and Mixed Blood are published in seven languages and two are in development as movies in the US.
His books have won the Deutscher Krimi Preis (German Crime Fiction Award) and been nominated for Spinetingler Magazine Best Novel awards. He recently published a novella, Ishmael Toffee.
How did you start writing? Did the writing process come to you naturally or was it something that you had to learn?
I wrote my first (very short) crime novel when I was ten. I have always loved crime fiction, but I grew up in apartheid South Africa where writing crime would have been a short-cut to irrelevance. So I shelved any desire to be a crime writer, became a founder-member of an anti-apartheid film co-operative, and later wrote a lot for film and TV. By the time I finally wrote my first thriller in 2007, crime, sadly, was all too relevant in South Africa.
Following on from this, what is an average day in the life of Roger Smith?
Ashtanga Yoga. Writing. Editing and correspondence/ social networking. Swimming in the ocean. Reading and TV if I have the time.
Your books are renowned for being packed full of action and are very fast paced, have you ever considered writing in a different style, or a different genre?
Interestingly, I have a horror novel coming out later in the year, the first in a series. Called Vile Blood, it’ll be billed as “Roger Smith writing as Max Wilde” to avoid any confusion with my crime thrillers. I was very flattered when the great Jack Ketchum, World Horror Grandmaster, said: “It has characters you care about, a nasty wit and a strange kind of charm. Can’t wait for the sequel.”
Two of your books are in development as movies, is it hard to see your source material being adapted for the big screen?
No, books and movies are different animals, with different demands. Whatever ends up on the screen, my books will still be on the shelves and eReaders.
Has there ever been a line, or an event in your book you have decided to remove or has been censored due to the level of violence?
No. If people do it, I write about it.
Who is your favourite writer?
Writers I admire: Jim Thompson, Elmore Leonard, Patricia Highsmith, Ian McEwan, Pete Dexter, Richard Ford, Martin Amis (pictured), Daniel Woodrell, James Sallis.
What are you currently working on? Is writing a second or third book easier than writing your first?
I’m working on my sixth novel, another thriller set in South Africa called Sacrifices. The one-liner: “when the bad guy is you.” For the first time I haven’t created a villain as a character, just two people at war with the darkness in themselves. Interesting to write.
And, no, writing never gets any easier, and the prospect of the empty page (or monitor screen) each morning is as terrifying as it was when I started my first book . More so, in fact.
Your books have received overwhelmingly positive reviews from users on Amazon and from critics, have you been surprised at the good press and do you read user reviews?
I’m very pleased that my dark crime fiction has found appreciative readers around the world. I do read reviews when I come across them and am very grateful that readers take the time to post their thoughts. Reader reviews help sell books. Period.
You’ve built a large and engaged following through Twitter, is social networking an essential tool for a modern author?
It’s vital. Every day people are talking to me on Twitter and Facebook about my books. Amazingly immediate. I’m always astonished when authors tell me they don’t need social networking. They’re either bestsellers or very naive.
If you could go back and give your 16 year old self any advice, what would it be?
Don’t wait until you’re in your forties to write that first novel.
Thanks to Roger for talking with us today, we are a massive admirer of his books – they are absolutely packed full of action and we strongly recommend you pick one up. Don’t forget you can also visit Roger’s website by clicking here. Roger is very active on Twitter and you can follow him by clicking here.
More interviews soon!