Your name: Bruce Holsinger
Tell us about yourself: I’m a writer, scholar, and unhealthily fanatical soccer dad. In my day job I teach English literature at the University of Virginia.
Tell us about your latest book: The Invention of Fire imagines the beginning of gun violence in the Western world. We begin in London in 1386, with the grim discovery of sixteen bodies in a privy channel. John Gower, poet, blackmailer, sleuth, quickly learns that the victims have been killed with ‘handgonnes’—a new and potentially transformative weapon on the European battlefield. During my research for this book I discovered that the word ‘handgun’ (in the Middle English form handgonne) comes into our language during the 1380s—and that set me off on exploring the earliest pieces of evidence for portable gunpowder weapons in England.
When did you start writing? I started writing fiction about fifteen years ago—though didn’t show my work to anyone for nearly a decade after that!
Where do you write? On my couch (where I’m sitting right now) and in coffee shops. I am allergic to desks.
Which other authors do you admire? I have eclectic tastes across genre and literary fiction of all varieties, so this is a tough one. It would be easier to answer the question, ‘Which author authors don’t you admire?’, but that would get me into trouble. In the world of crime fiction I’ve become an enormous fan of Tana French, and for historical fiction you can’t beat Geraldine Brooks and Hilary Mantel. At the moment I’m re-reading Anthony Trollope’s The Prime Minister and loving every page.
Book you wished you’d written? Wolf Hall
Greatest fictional criminal? Lady Macbeth
Greatest crime or criminal from the real world? Jeffrey Dahmer. Has there been a good Jeffrey Dahmer novel???
What scares you? Writing deadlines
Are you ever disturbed by your own imagination? Not often, no no, not often at all…though sometimes when I’m writing a creepy scene late at night or early in the morning, when the house is quiet and still, as it is right now, I will imagine that I hear a scraping sound on the sidewalk. It moves up the porch stairs, scuffing the wood, and now it’s on the porch, and now there’s a smell, an acrid rotting smell and I don’t quite know why the doorknob is turning and why oh dear what @#@#(*$@!^)
3 crime books you would recommend to EVERYONE:
Do you listen to music when you write? Yes—I like baroque keyboard music, which seems to inspire efficient typing.
How can fans connect with you? Either one of the above! I’m always delighted to hear from fans and readers