Genre: Icelandic Noir, Revenge Thrillers, Nordic Noir, Psychological Thrillers.
Published Books: On A Small Island; The Mistake; A Place To Bury Strangers; Out On The Ice
Grant Nicol moved to Rotorua for the first time in October and despite being "the new guy in town" he is the co-convener of the Rotorua Noir Festival in January 2019 and is also appearing at Murder in the Library at Rotorua Library on Saturday 5 May. We asked him a few questions about his work.
What turned you to a life of crime (writing)?
It all started with true crime stories from the newspapers and books I was reading in the 90s. The first thing I remember capturing my imagination was the arrest of Jeffrey Dahmer in Milwaukee in 1991. This led me to investigating the stories behind Andrei Chikatilo, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and David Berkowitz. These stories in turn turned me on to James Ellroy and his dark and twisted version of Los Angeles. Much later in life I discovered the work of Henning Mankell through the Swedish TV versions of his stories that were on the BBC and it was his books that inspired me to start writing Nordic Noir stories so it was a real combination of the American Noir of the 60s and 70s mixed with the more socially aware tales of present day Sweden that formed the way I tell my stories. There have been plenty of true crime stories tucked away in my books too. Everything from the Black Dahlia case to the more recent Gilgo Beach murders.
There was one very sad incident that turned me from a wanna-be writer into an actual author which was the death of one of my schoolyard buddies in a road accident just outside of Putaruru. I was living in the UK at the time and it was his death that inspired me to stop mucking around and write my first book. Sometimes it takes a real bolt from the blue to get you doing what you should have been doing all along and Simon’s death was just that.
Were you always destined to be a writer?
I think so. I started messing around with writing stories when I was teenager and kept it up all through my twenties and thirties, but it wasn't until much later that I had anything interesting to say. A lot of the stuff I wrote when I was younger was awful, but it was all part of the learning process that led me to where I am today. I've always enjoyed the solitude and escape that you can find in a book and I wanted to give that to other people the way that it had been given to me.
Can you tell us about the most interesting 'other' job you have had?
When I was in my twenties I used to work for rock bands. I started off touring New Zealand with Push Push and The Exponents before moving to Australia to work with The Clouds. A few weeks ago, I tried writing down a list of all the bands I saw in that period and it was over 120. It took just one night of tuning guitars for some friends at The Powerstation to send me on a six-year journey around New Zealand and Australia on which I got to meet the likes of Alice Cooper, Poison, Skid Row, The Lemonheads, Jeff Buckley, Neil Finn and Peter Garrett.
What are your top tips for aspiring authors?
The same as my top tips for anybody in this life. Trust your instincts and don't listen to people.
What book are you reading at the moment?
'To Kill A Mocking Bird' (for the second time). I read a chapter from it to my girlfriend every night.
What are you looking forward to most about Rotorua Noir?
What I'm looking forward to the most is getting as many of New Zealand's crime writers as we can under one roof. The thing I've enjoyed most about these festivals overseas is the feeling you create when you get a tribe of fellow authors gathered together. Writing can be a lonely existence so it's great for writers to get out and meet other people who do the same thing. It's also a buzz watching readers getting to meet their favourite authors. Reading someone's book creates a real connection between author and reader that exists long before they ever get to meet.
Find out more about Grant Nicol