Sunday, December 03, 2006

Robert Wilson on the importance of setting

Today's Boston Globe offers an interview with Robert Wilson, author of the Javier Falcon novels and other thrillers. Wilson talks about research he did for his latest, The Hidden Assassin, and about the importance of immersing himself in his settings : "I wanted to get real Arab voices. So I went to Morocco; I had a contact who ran a clothes factory near Rabat, and I interviewed the workforce from the financial director to the top floor."

Wilson says his agent for foreign rights wants more books about the Seville-based Falcon. "I could move him to Barcelona or Madrid," the author says. "But Barcelona is a completely different culture; all the police work would be done in Catalan. I'd have to live there for three or four months. ... I also have the idea of setting a novel in London. But am I able to go back to London now? Could I write a novel set there?"

The Wilson interview was on one of four full pages the Globe devoted to books. It was nice to see an American newspaper recognize that it has literate readers who care about ideas. Not all American papers recognize this.

© Peter Rozovsky 2006

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Karen C said...

Peter, firstly I hope things are starting to sort themselves out on the work front.

Secondly, we had the great good pleasure of hearing Robert Wilson speak at a couple of sessions at the recent Melbourne Writers Festival and it was the great joy of the festival for us.

He was charming, considered, thoughtful in his analysis of how he wrote his books, and that set of behaviours continued to another panel when asking questions of a young film-maker and local true crime writer.

He even spent considerable time chatting whilstg signing a book for me and I would have to say that, based on that meeting I've been more diligent in tracking down his books.

His early Bruce Medway series is set in Africa - a very different Africa to that of Alexander MacCall-Smith - I can highly recommend tracking down those books if you want a slightly different viewpoint and a very wonderful sense of humour.

December 04, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks for the comment, and thanks for the kind wishes. I was especially interested to read what you had to say about Wilson's sense of humor. It's not a quality I'd previously associated with him. I have one of the Bruce Medway books lying around the house. Maybe I'll excavate for it after I finish The Devil Taker.

December 04, 2006  
Anonymous Hamish said...

Wilson, like many Englishman, does have an attractive public persona. But that doesn't make up for his dull and plodding style. He is just a small step up from Biggles. Not there's anything wrong with Biggles, mind you. When you're twelve.

December 05, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

Hmm, I detect a certain impatience with Wilson's writing style and his manners. I do recall starting one of his novels set in Africa and finding the detail impressive, profuse, and stifling. But it's not out of the question that I'll be in the right mood to try him again.

December 05, 2006  
Anonymous crimeficreader said...

On the other hand, I found "The Hidden Assassins" to be my best read in 2006 and I really enjoy the Falcon series.

December 05, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

This discussion could spur me to read Wilson again to make up my mind whether I like him or not. I remember finding him a gifted writer of description -- the heat of his Africa was oppressive. But so was his prose style, so I have some sympathy with Hamish's complaint.

From what I've read about it, The Hidden Assassins sounds compelling, and the topic is obviously pertinent. It might make a good pairing with Yasmina Khadra's The Attack.

December 05, 2006  
Anonymous Karen C said...

Hamish - I don't think his personal persona has much to do with my desire to track down his books. Rather I greatly appreciated his outlining of how he does his research and formulates the idea for the books. The Medway series appealed to me immensely - I liked the sly laid back sense of humour and the homage to Chander's style, with that overlying British voice.

December 05, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

Karen, I don't think the Boston Globe put the interview with Robert Wilson online. If it had, you might have enjoyed his declarations that he needs to live somewhere before writing about it. He researches thoroughly.

December 05, 2006  

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