Monday 14 April 2008

An Interview - Colin Bateman

Colin Bateman is the author of twenty-one novels - starting with Divorcing Jack in 1995 and most recently, Orpheus Rising. He is a former journalist. He also writes screenplays and is about to make his second documentary for BBC NI, ‘Bateman’s Belfast Confidential’.

Q1. What are you writing at the minute?

Very little! I’ve just finished my next novel, Mystery Man, and taking a bit of a break. I’m mostly working on the script for the documentary.

Q2. Can you give us an idea of Colin Bateman’s typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

I try to work pretty much 9-5 - i.e. I will generally be in my wee room during those hours, but it doesn’t mean I’m writing all the time. I come from a journalistic background, so I tend to write in furious bursts and edit as I go, so pretty much everything I do, at least as far as the novels are concerned, only goes to one draft. I don’t think my writing would be much better if I took longer on it. I’ll usually pick away at things or do e-mails and stuff at night. The problem is that when your hobby becomes your day job, you never know when to quit!

Q3. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I see a lot of movies - so it’s still work in a way. A big Liverpool fan, and I also play 5-a-side football twice a week, though my knees are growing increasingly dodgy and I don’t know how much longer I’ll last. This will probably be a relief to my team mates, as I’m very greedy.

Q4. Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the crime fiction scene?

Just keep plugging away. And remember that a rejection is just one person’s opinion. You’re just looking for one person who likes what you do, and you’re off and running.

Q5. Which crime writer(s) have impressed you this year?

Haven’t read any! When I’m writing I tend not to read, I get influenced too easily. And by influenced I mean steal. But I have the new Robert B Parker on order. He’s a constant reminder that simple is good, and simple works. Not that he’s simple.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

I’m actually reading Stephen Booth’s Black Dog, but that’s for a possible screenplay, and likewise Paul Carson’s Ambush. But I’ve been doing this a long time now, so I know the possibility of a big fat cheque hitting the bank is fairly remote.

Q7. Plans for the future?

Making the documentary is probably going to take me to the summer - I made one this time last year which was great fun, but this will be more challenging and will involve a little bit of acting, which is new to me. I am not expecting an Oscar any time soon. Also have hopes of directing a film, but just like the screenplays, you can’t be sure of anything until the cameras start rolling.

Q8. With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently?

No, I think it has all worked out better than I could ever have imagined - there are things you might change, bridges I shouldn’t have burned, but there also a few I should have set fire to sooner! I’ve been very lucky. I spent a lot of my earlier years not having the confidence to put myself forward for things, I mean pre-writing, but the writing has really changed me and now I’m up for anything, which is why I’m prepared to have a go at directing or TV presenting or anything, apart from bungy jumping, because I’m not scared to fail. I just appreciate being given the chance. And it’s probably a Northern Irish thing where I don’t say I’m great at these things, but that I can at least be as bad as anyone else who tries them.

Q9. Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?

Don’t get me started. Tibet, pollution, racism, poverty, these are some of the things I don’t really care about, as long as I’m okay.

Thank you, Colin Bateman!


Michael Stone said...

Brilliant. I really enjoyed that. When I got to the bottom I went back to the top and read it again. I laughed aloud (LOLed?) at his last answer.

Good answer to question 4, too. I'll bear his advice in mind when I get the next flutter of agents' rejection slips.

Great stuff.

Gerard Brennan said...

Hey, Mike

Yeah, cracker, wasn't it? His question 9 answer was my favourite.