STEPHEN BOOTH needs little introduction, but because I adore
this man, I’d like to take a moment and laud (I love that word) him. A master
storyteller of six absolutely riveting books whose setting in the Peak District
of England rivals that of Poe and any ‘dark and stormy night’ you can imagine!
From BLACK DOG-#1 to his current THE DEAD PLACE-#6 (in pbo in the U.K.-which we
won’t get here in the colonies until next year), this is a series with few
peers. And with much deftness, he has created a duo –Ben Cooper and Diane Fry –
that you will loathe to leave the moment you reach the last page. By the way –
ONE LAST BREATH-#5 will be out in the U.S. on July 26th. Don’t miss it!
I could go on and on, but I know you’re anxious to meet this
amazing man and put some serious questions to rest. So, on to a few rumors
being bandied around about Stephen Booth-
EE: Any truth to the buzz that the inventor of the Dyson
vacuum cleaner is pressuring you to replace the British term ‘hoovering’ used
to describe vacuuming-for ‘dysoning’ in your next book?
SB: Strangely, vacuuming hasn’t featured much in my
books up to now. Or in my life generally, come to think of it. So I checked
with my wife, who did see a vacuum cleaner once, and she insists that people
will always use ‘hoovering’, not some fancy, new-fangled word. But then, she’s
the sort of person who won’t use a phone unless it’s safely fixed to the wall
with a bit of wire.
Your wife is a wise woman. I don’t trust portable phones either. I still think
electricity is black magic too.
EE: I have it on good authority, Stephen, that Dame
Judi Dench is dying to get to know you better, yet you’ve not returned her many
emails. What does your wife think of this?
SB: I’ve gone off Judi ever since she played a Klingon
brothel keeper in Star Trek: The Next Degeneration. Besides, my wife has never
heard of email.
Well, I can’t blame you there. Judi was a bit tarty.
Best your wife doesn’t know.
EE: By the way, Stephen, is it true that Mad Max is
your all time favorite movie?
SB: No, it’s Bladerunner. More replicants, less Mel
Ah, yes! Bladerunner! A classic. So noir-ish. But
then, so is L.A.
EE: As a discerning author, please tell us which
writer you’d recommend to Oprah.
SB: Elaine Flinn – for her moving, sensitive story of a
young African-American girl growing up in 1940s Ohio. Or was that Toni
Uh, yes, Stephen-that was Toni Morrison. But I’ll
snip the first part and keep it for a blurb, okay?
EE: We all have Walter Mitty dreams, and your legion
of readers are dying to know yours. Just keep it clean, okay?
SB: All my life, I’ve dreamed of being an author, and
giving up the day job to write novels full-time. Wait a minute, though…
Huh? Uh, yes, dear – you’ve made it. Hasn’t anyone
told you yet?
EE: Get serious now, would you please? Who would you
love to do a book tour with? Why?
SB: Someone who might actually attract an audience. In
the UK, that would mean anyone who’s been on the telly – even if it’s only the
stupid bald bloke from Celebrity Love Island.
Listen to this man! Crowds follow him where ever he
goes! Why, you should have seen what I saw at Bcon in Toronto! The women just
wouldn’t leave him alone!
EE: I’ve been told that your descriptions of the
physical dangers of walking your beloved Peak District in your books are
calculated fabrications intended to keep Starbucks and tourists away. This is a
serious charge, Stephen and needs to be addressed.
SB: No, it’s all true. Those sheep are lethal.
Finally! The truth! But…do you think you can keep
the sheep under control? Starbucks might consider offering you the franchise. I
mean, you could whip up lattes between books.
EE: We’re dying to know, Stephen, which writers
would be on your ideal convention panel?
SB: I think I did that panel at Bouchercon once. Val
McDermid, Laurie King, Dana Stabenow. In fact, without me, it would have been
Ah, such humility! You know you were the main
attraction! And I have it on good authority you gave a stellar performance!
EE: What is the best selling book you wish you’d
SB: Can I say The Da Vinci Code without becoming the
victim of a literary fatwa (‘Death to the infidel!’)? It seems to me that Dan
Brown has persuaded people to buy his books who’d never thought of buying a
book in their lives before. Also, I’ve noticed that my novels are right next to
his on that shelf in the bookstore. My new sales pitch is: "You liked Dan
Brown? Well, here’s another author whose name begins with a ‘B’ and is five
letters long, with an ‘o’ in the middle. Is that spooky, or what?"
Yes, you can say that with no fear of reprisal! But
not to worry about Dan. I always move your books in front of his at every
bookstore I visit.
EE: I know you to be the consummate gentleman, but
what’s this I hear about you dancing on the table at a private party at Left
Coast Crime in Bristol?
SB: Was that before, or after, the strip tease? It’s
all such a blur… Actually, since I’m teetotal, I never make a fool of myself at
conventions, I just egg other people on to do it. And some of those authors
don’t need much egging, I can tell you (photographs available for a small fee).
It was after the strip tease. So-you’ve got photo’s,
huh? Do you accept Pay Pal?
EE: Which writer would you love to have all to
yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at the next Bouchercon?
SB: J. A. Konrath, perhaps? Everyone knows he’s such a
shy, retiring young man.
EE: Talk on the street, Stephen, is that Posh is
writing her memoirs and has asked you to ghost for her and that Beckham is
frothing at the mouth and flexing his to-die-for abs.
SB: Okay, this is the woman who admits to never having
read a single book – not even the one she wrote herself? Well, she obviously
has good taste. As long as she agrees to tour with me, I’ll do it (well, she’s
been on the telly, you know).
You may need a few bodyguards. Maybe Lee and Barry
EE: Rumor has it that Ben Cooper and Diane Fry ran
off and got married last fall but are afraid to let you know. How will you
manage to handle this? I mean, one of them will have to leave the department.
Might this be Ben’s chance for promotion?
SB: You know, this might just tie in with the plot of
the next book, in which Ben turns out to be Diane’s illegitimate love child,
and they both run away to live in a straw hut on the Moon with some talking
animals, until they meet a Klingon brothel keeper (played by Judi Dench), and
after that everything starts to go a bit weird…
Oh, hot stuff! This has legs! This has Best Seller
written all over it! Dan Brown will be placing his book over yours!
EE: This is a hot topic around the U.K., Stephen –
Any truth to the rumors that Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren are besieging you to
pen a new and darker series using them as the main characters, but you’d rather
spend your free time working on the musical about the Kray brothers?
SB: Musicals are definitely my thing. Anyone who’s
heard me sing will know that I am to music exactly what the Kray brothers were
to rival gangsters. I can murder any song you name.
Then that haunting baritone voice I heard singing
‘Blues In The Night’ beneath my window at Left Coast in Monterey wasn’t you?
EE: And finally, the most asked about question in
Mysteryville! Just what do you plan to do with all those goats?
SB: Well, the boys have gone off to do their thing in
other parts of the country, so the goat population has stopped increasing,
thank God. We just have three ladies growing old gracefully in a corner of the
property, occasionally being fed strawberries and grapes, like ageing dowager
duchesses. They have to stay here now – if only because I get asked about them
wherever I go in the world!
Now, Stephen! We know how much you love those girls
– and how kind you are to them! Only a prince would treat them so royally. And
a prince you are!
Oh. Well, I was kinda hoping…well, never mind.
And not only is Stephen Booth a prince of a man, he is
one of the finest gentlemen in this wacky world of mystery. I had the very
great privilege to sit next to Stephen at my very first panel. I was nervous as
hell to be seated next to this incredible writer – and you know what? His
innate kindness made the ordeal feel like a picnic. I think I only stuttered
once. Thank you again, dear heart.