Short, Sharp Interview: Laurence Walker



PDB: Can you pitch UNDER A RUSSIAN HEAVEN in 25 words or less?

Englishman, working in provincial Russian city, meets beautiful girl, with illicit consequences. Noir crime story, with dose of black humour, doused in vodka.

PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

I’m reading Dylan Thomas’s Adventures in the Skin Trade, having just finished James Ross’s They Don’t Dance Much. Both books are well worth forking out for. I’ve been listening quite a bit to Incognito’s Bees & Things & Flowers album this week – the first half is better than the second – and rediscovering the peculiar world of Weather Report.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

I’m not sure anyone can be fully objective, when reading. You pick up a book or newspaper and already know to some extent what you want to find in it. It’s certainly something worth working towards though.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

I do have some interest. I tried writing a film script a few years ago. That said, having read Woody Haut’s Heartbreak and Vine, I’d be cautious about rewriting any of my own books in script form.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

I made a point of setting this story in places I knew well, so I could write with some authority about them. I still spend a lot of time checking the facts and details though, whether by Google mining or asking someone in the know. I’m actually quite pedantic about it and can waste an hour or two checking what sort of hat someone should be wearing.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

It’s something I’m learning more about all the time. I use Twitter to keep abreast of what other writers are up to. I deleted my Facebook account a few years ago, but read recently this could mean I’m a sociopath. I should probably sign up again.

PDB: What’s on the cards for 2014?

I’m working on a second novel, set in Central Asia. There’s only been one murder so far, but I’m planning a couple more.

Bio:Born in 1978, in England, Laurence Walker works in London as an energy journalist. He spent a number of years working in Russia and the former Soviet Union. His work-related travel – which has taken him to places as diverse as a coal terminal in Russia’s Arctic Circle and the tobacco fields of southern Kyrgyzstan – and the people he’s met along the way have provided some inspiration for his fiction writing.

Under a Russian Heavenout now from 280 Steps, is his debut novel. Set in Russia and in the English seaside town of Hastings, this straight-talking, noir style novel — influenced by Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain and the dark film noirs of the 1940s and 1950s — follows James Eastaway, a young Englishman working as a teacher in a provincial Russian city, whose carefree life as a fledging expat spirals out of control after he meets the beautiful daughter of a local businessman.

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