Allan Guthrie writes crime fiction. He was born in Orkney, but has lived in Edinburgh for most of his adult life. He is married to Donna.
His first novel, Two-Way Split, was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger and went on to win the 2007 Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel Of The Year. His second novel, Kiss Her Goodbye, was nominated for Edgar, Anthony and Gumshoe awards. He is also the author of the novels Hard Man and Savage Night, plus a novella, Kill Clock, for emergent adult readers.
Visit his website at http://www.allanguthrie.co.uk/.
SLAMMER, Guthrie’s latest novel, will be released this month.
I caught up with Allan Guthrie and bugged him with a few questions. Knowing how busy he is trying to sell other peoples’ novels as an agent at Jenny Brown Associates, as well as writing his own, I kept it pretty short.
Gerard Brennan: As the title would suggest, SLAMMER is a novel set in prison. You’re a law-abiding citizen (that’s the rumour anyway), so I imagine you had quite a lot of research to do. How did you go about it?
Allan Guthrie: Who’s been spreading rumours about me? I deny everything! Law-abiding or not, I was lucky with SLAMMER. To a large extent, the research came first. I’d always fancied writing a prison novel. I even wrote one – of sorts – when I was a teenager. A pile of bollocks it was, too. But since I’ve been writing professionally, the idea of a prison novel’s always been at the back of my mind. And that’s where it stayed until, one afternoon at the day job, I got talking to an ex-prison officer who’d joined the company as a security guard, and that conversation (and several subsequent ones) provided a lot of the type of details I look for – you know, the kind of killer detail that convinces the reader you know what you’re talking about. Got me enthused about finally writing that prison novel – one that wasn’t a terrible pile of bollocks, that is. I still didn’t have a story, but that came to me later. I did a lot of background reading too: Jimmy Boyle, James Campbell, Erwin James, Malcolm Braly.
GB: It’s inevitable that a writer who’s honest with himself can find areas to improve with each novel written. I have it on good authority that you care about the craft of writing, so I reckon you fall into this ‘honest writer’ category. That said, what pleased you most about this novel with regards to the writing, characters and plot? No spoilers, though!
AG: That’s a tough question to answer. I tend to keep rewriting until I hit my deadline, otherwise I’d probably keep writing the same book forever. I rewrote TWO-WAY SPLIT for about four years and I’ve even rewritten it since it was published. And SAVAGE NIGHT went through over thirty drafts. So it’s probably true to say that I’m rarely that pleased with much of what I write. There’s certainly always room for improvement. But if I had to choose the aspect of SLAMMER that I think is the strongest, it would probably be the way the narrative unfolds. It’s a tricky story to tell, and Nicholas Glass is a tricky character to tell it. But I think I just about manage to handle all the trickiness okay.
GB: Will SLAMMER be a standalone novel, or can you see potential in it for a sequel or beyond?
AG: It’s a standalone.
GB: What are you working on right now?
AG: A thriller called BLOOD WILL OUT.
GB: I’m going slightly off topic here, but this is something CSNI readers will find interesting – You edited the Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman collaboration, TOWER, which is due out this year. Good fun?
AG: It’s always a pleasure to work on a quality book with great writers. And a great publisher too in David Thompson of Busted Flush. There’s a lot to learn from reading Bruen and Coleman up close, and they’re both absolute gentlemen to work with. Very much looking forward to TOWER hitting the shelves later this year.
GB: Given the choice of any writer in the world (but let’s say living), who would you most like to collaborate with?
AG: Garth Ennis. I’m late to the party, only recently discovered him, but he’s a writer I could learn a lot from. And he makes me laugh my arse off.
GB: If you had to give SLAMMER, the 25 word Hollywood pitch, how would it go?
AG: When a group of cons use outside help to threaten young prison officer Nicholas Glass’s wife and daughter, Glass agrees to help them with a ‘favour’. But, as their threats escalate, and one favour leads to another, Glass grows ever closer to breaking point...
GB: Thanks for taking the time, Allan!