Your name: Will Smith
Tell us about yourself: I’m a comedian and writer best known for working on The Thick Of It, in which I also appeared as Phil Smith.
Tell us about your latest book: Mainlander, it’s set in Jersey, where I grew up, in 1987, over the week leading up to the Great Storm and the Black Monday financial crash. A teacher spots a pupil near the edge of a cliff, and thinks he may have been about to jump. He gives him a lift home, and when the boy doesn’t turn up to school the next day, he becomes determined to find him.
When did you start writing? Since I learnt to hold a pencil. I’m not being facetious, but I’ve always wanted to write stories, and started pretty young.
Where do you write? Anywhere, all I need is a table and a chair and headphones. I bounce between a rented desk in a shared office and various Stoke Newington cafes.
Which other authors do you admire? Jonathan Franzen, Jennifer Egan, Jess Walter, Charlotte Bronte, Herman Melville, Leo Tolstoy, George Eliot, John Le Carre, Andrew Miller, Philip Roth, John Updike, David Mitchell, Michel Faber, John Lanchester, Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, Balzac, Victor Hugo, Turgenev.
Book you wished you’d written? Middlemarch.
Greatest fictional criminal: Greatest as in all-powerful? That has to be Sauron. Although as a mere Maiar, he is of course dwarfed by the power of his master Morgoth, a member of the Ainur. I went through a big Tolkien phase in my teens, it hasn’t really ended.
Greatest crime or criminal from the real world: I don’t want to condone any actual criminals, and by definition the greatest ones are probably the ones we’ve never heard of, so I’ll play the arch card and say Vladimir Putin.
What scares you? Death. Not a day goes by where the thought of it doesn’t give me at least a mild panic, if not full-on horror.
Are you ever disturbed by your own imagination? No, but people who’d pegged me as a quiet one were astounded to see me on stage early on in my career, and to hear certain things come out of my mouth.
3 crime books you would recommend to EVERYONE:
I know the last two aren’t technically crime, but they are thrilling.
Do you listen to music when you write? Yes, I use it to suggest or reflect the time and place I’m trying to create or recreate on the page. I also make playlists for the characters – things I think they’d listen to, or that remind me of them.
Are you on social media? Yes, Facebook and Twitter and a defunct MySpace page I keep forgetting to take down.
How can fans connect with you? Twitter. I always try and respond to people, and I’m at the level where the rate of interaction is quite manageable.