One Minute With: Mark Billingham, crime writer


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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in a club in the West End [of London] staring out of the window, wondering if it's going to rain.

What are you currently reading?

'The Good Father' by Noah Hawley. I just got it and I'm really enjoying it so far. It's about an American whose son appears to have shot a presidential candidate. It's an examination of conspiracy theories and political assassinations.

Choose a favourite author, and say why you admire her/him

Laura Lippman, who is notionally a thriller or crime writer. I personally hate the term "transcending the genre" but if there's someone who does it, it's her. James Lee Burke, George Pelecanos, Daniel Woodrell, are also writers who I think are raising the bar in this area.

Describe the room where you usually write

An office in my home in which I'm surrounded by the strange nonsense I collect: old curios, dolls heads, a stuffed puffin, a beaver's skull, bits of Victorian taxidermy. There's a computer in there as well.

What distracts you from writing?

Almost anything.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

The character who most affected me was Sherlock Holmes. It's the character you remember, not the stories. He's still the archetypal detective.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

Smart and loyal. You can't pull the wool over their eyes. They can sniff out shoddy goods but they're very passionate when you write something they enjoy.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Steve Bull [a footballer] who played for Wolverhampton and for England in the 1980s. He had the choice to go to a club in Italy but chose to stay in Wolverhampton. You don't see that loyalty any more.

Mark Billingham's 'Sleepyhead', is one of 25 titles to be given out by 20,000 givers around the UK for World Book Night 2012 on 23 April