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Interview mit Andrew Taylor - englisch

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Welcome to Aveleen Avide

Literary translator: Karin Kaiser

Andrew Taylor said: “Almost everything about eighteenth century Cambridge struck me as odd, by modern standards. The dons, or lecturers, could not marry. At night, the gates were locked and each college was sealed off from the world. And then there were the drinking clubs and societies, some of them obscene and blasphemous ...”

Foto Andrew Taylor

Foto: © Andrew Taylor

Andrew Taylor is a bestselling author.
Andrew Taylor Twitter

Andrew Taylor was born in 1951 in Stevenage, England. He grew up in East Anglia, UK. He studied in Cambridge and London. Afterwards he worked as boatbuilder, teacher, librarian, payroll clerk. Since 1981 he is an author . Why did he work in so many professions beforehand? Safety consciousness? And why did he become author though?
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ANDREW TAYLOR:
I decided to be an author when I was about ten or twelve, because I liked reading stories and I thought it would make me rich without too much work. Unfortunately this has not proved to be the case. But I still like reading stories - and writing them. I didn’t get down to writing my first novel until I was nearly thirty. This was partly laziness - and partly because I wasn’t sure how to do it or what I wanted to write. But the jobs I did beforehand proved very useful - they paid the rent at the time and now they are sources of experience.

AVELEEN AVIDE:
You live with your wife and your children Sarah and William in the “Forest of Dean”, which is situated between England and Wales. And you have also got two cats called Max and Tom. Cuddle cats? And may I ask if the Wikipedia information is still correct and how old your children are?em>

ANDREW TAYLOR:
Our children are now in their twenties and living away from home, though we see a great deal of them. One’s an artist, and the other works in the music industry. The cats were very cuddlesome, but now they have unfortunately died. Their ashes are in the garden.

AVELEEN AVIDE:
You have received more than two dozen awards, among them the “CWA Ellis Peter Historical Dagger Award” and you are up to now the only author who won this award two times. Certainly, this is fantastic. My question: do you remember where you were when you got this information? And did you receive it in person every time?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
I’m glad to say that I’ve now won the Historical Dagger three times, most recently this summer with my latest novel, The Scent of Death. Sometimes with awards they announce the winners on the night, which is agonising for all the shortlisted authors. At other times - as with the Diamond Dagger - they let you know beforehand.

AVELEEN AVIDE:
How is this celebrated? Who delivered your laudatory speech?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
Often with a drinks reception or at a dinner. Most of the awards I’ve had don’t come with laudatory speeches attached. At most, you tend to get a few sweet words from one of the judges.

AVELEEN AVIDE:
Already in 2009 you have received the highest award, the “Cartier Diamond Dagger Lifetime Achievement Award”. Normally, you receive an award for your life work when you are much older.
Which meaning does such an award have in the book world? Who delivered your laudatory speech then?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
It’s a wonderful award to receive in that it reflects the judgement of your peers - in other words of other crime writers. I hope it doesn’t mean that they now think I’ve written everything I want to write! I’d like to say the Diamond Dagger increased sales of my books but these things are notoriously hard to quantify. Monsieur Bamberger, the head of Cartier in the UK, presented the award.

AVELEEN AVIDE:
Your first novel “Caroline Minuscule” which was broadcast as radio series by BBC radio reached four million listeners. WOW! Immediately a hat-trick, with the first book. Were you very excited? Or did you say, well, it just happened?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
Actually the BBC radio adaptation came out several years after I’d written the book. I was lucky to have a very good actor - Martin Jarvis - as the reader. I was very pleased - not least because it encouraged Penguin to reissue the paperback. I was also amazed by how many people listened to it - and liked it!

AVELEEN AVIDE:
You are also reviewing thrillers for newspapers. What will you do when you don't like a thriller by one of your colleagues at all? Will you still review the book? I can imagine that this could be interpreted as jealousy?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
It’s a tricky question. I have a policy that I only review books I feel enthusiastic about. Often though, even with these, there’s a feature I don’t like, and I have to mention it in the review. It’s best to be open about it. I certainly don’t let jealousy influence what I say - and I’m pretty sure none of the authors concerned think I would.

AVELEEN AVIDE:
When you travel, where do you like to go, and what is most important to you about the places you go? Or don’t you even feel like traveling after all those book tours?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
I rather like book tours in other countries - hard work, but almost always fun. And it’s a huge privilege to be taken around someone else’s country and shown what it’s like from the inside. I feel very privileged. As for travelling for fun, I tend either to enjoy a city break for a few days - recent ones include Berlin, Bruges and New York - or a week or two in a self catering house somewhere - Portugal this summer, or France. Sometimes in the British Isles.

AVELEEN AVIDE:
What are you reading right now? And which genres do you enjoy most?
I generally have several books on the go at once. At present I’m reading: James Sallis - Others Of My Kind, Val McDermid - Cross and Burn, Henry James - What Maisie Knew, Kate Colquhoun - Taste, Elizabeth Taylor - Collected Short Stories. As for genres - crime, literary fiction, history... and much else!

ANDREW TAYLOR:

AVELEEN AVIDE:
How many times did you have to submit your manuscript to publishers before your first novel was accepted? What was the experience like, and how exactly did publication of the book come about?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
I was lucky in that my first novel, Caroline Minuscule, was accepted by the first publisher I tried. But my editor wanted me to rewrite a large part, cutting about a third of it. A difficult job - but it improved the book in the long run.

AVELEEN AVIDE:
What does writing mean to you?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
Heaven and hell; an occupation and a source of income; something I will continue doing as long as I can.

Cover The Anatomy of Ghosts

ANDREW TAYLOR (Text Englisch):
1786, Jerusalem College Cambridge. The ghost of Sylvia Whichcote is rumoured to be haunting Jerusalem since disturbed fellow-commoner, Frank Oldershaw, claims to have seen the dead woman prowling the grounds ...

Hier finden Sie weitere Informationen in Englisch:
The Anatomy of Ghosts

AVELEEN AVIDE:
How did you get the idea for “Dead Like You?”

ANDREW TAYLOR:
I assume you’re asking me to comment on The Anatomy of Ghosts, not Peter’s Dead Like You!? I wanted to write a novel about a Cambridge college - strange places, even today, and even stranger and more self-contained in the eighteenth century. They were very enclosed - the perfect setting for a crime novel. And I was interested in exploring the idea of ghosts, common to all cultures and times.

AVELEEN AVIDE:
Your work on “Dead Like You” must have involved lots of research. Was there anything in the course of your research that struck you as odd, out of the ordinary or funny?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
Almost everything about eighteenth century Cambridge struck me as odd, by modern standards. Colleges were for men only - and for the favoured few. The dons, or lecturers, could not marry. At night, the gates were locked and each college was sealed off from the world. And then there were the drinking clubs and societies, some of them obscene and blasphemous ...

AVELEEN AVIDE:
How did you approach the plotting of “Dead Like You?“ Could you tell us about some of your first thoughts and ideas you came up with when plotting that novel?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
I don’t have much idea of plot before I start a novel, though I usually know a good deal about the setting, characters, theme, etc. When I wrote this book, I started with the central character, John Holdsworth, a failed bookseller, in his house by the Thames in London. He’s just written a book disproving the existence of the ghosts, and it’s called The Anatomy of Ghosts... That chapter eventually became the second chapter of the finished book.

AVELEEN AVIDE:
What is easiest for you to write … dialogue, characters, or scenes? Or is it pretty much the same for you? In other words, do you like all of those story elements equally?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
I enjoy writing all the story elements equally. That said, dialogue can sometimes achieve a rapid momentum of its own, if it’s going well.

AVELEEN AVIDE:
How do you manage to avoid loose ends in the novel?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
The simple answer is revision: my books aren’t just written: they are rewritten and rewritten.

AVELEEN AVIDE:
How did you approach your protagonist, John Holdsworth? Could you tell us about some of your first thoughts and ideas about that particular character?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
I knew from the start that he was a man who has had much sorrow in his life: his wife and little son have died, and he blames himself; he’s lost his business; and he’s reacted by becoming aggressively rational in his thinking. In the book he’s forced to confront aspects of himself that don’t appear to be acting rationally at all.

AVELEEN AVIDE:
How do you go about writing a novel? Do you first carry the story around in your head and let it mature, and then you start writing? Or do you make sure that you’ve finished all your research first, and you’ve done a synopsis, before the actual writing begins?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
I do much research and thinking before I start writing, but the plot tends to develop in the writing. I can often see ten or twenty thousand words ahead: and then I run into a brick wall. I think I’m telling myself a story as much as the reader!

AVELEEN AVIDE:
Could you please describe a typical day in your life when you’re at work on a novel?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
I tend to wake up thinking about the book. I may write something before breakfast. Then it’s into my workroom at about 8.30. I work until 7.00 in the evening,but I often take breaks - for walks in the forest, for example - especially in the afternoon. I used to write best in the evening, even at night; but now I tend to write more easily in the morning.

AVELEEN AVIDE:
What’s your favourite place for writing?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
My work room or study, which is in one of the outbuildings attached to our old cottage. You can see a panoramic photo of the room on my website.

AVELEEN AVIDE:
Do you listen to music while writing? If the answer is yes, what type of music? Or do work best when it’s absolutely quiet?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
I tend not to listen to music while writing fiction, though I do when writing other things - emails, reviews, this interview. For working, I like music that has the capacity to recede into the background - aural wallpaper, if you like. Jan Garbarak and Port Blue are current favourites. At this moment I’ve got a wonderful old Van Morrison album playing - Astral Weeks.

AVELEEN AVIDE:
Are you represented by a literary agent? If the answer is yes, what advantage does this offer to you?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
Yes, and I have been for 28 years. She handles much of the business side of writing for me - negotiating contracts, selling foreign rights, etc. She also suggests new angles for me to investigate, sometimes. Worth her commission!

AVELEEN AVIDE:
What book are you currently working on? Is it okay to tell us a little about it in advance?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
A book with the working title of Silent Wounds, set in 1792. One of the two central characters in a young boy who is mute; and he’s come to England as a refugee from the French Revolution. The other is Edward Savill, an enigmatic man of business who appeared in my previous book (The Scent of Death, set in New York during the American Revolution; not yet published in Germany).

AVELEEN AVIDE:
What type of advice would you have for beginning authors who want to get their first novel published?

ANDREW TAYLOR:
Keep on trying... it’s a tough world for authors. Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Try to network with other authors and people in publishing; nowadays authors are generally expected to help with the marketing of their books. If necessary, consider secondary avenues for publishing, such as self-published ebooks. Above all, carry on writing. That’s the hardest part of all. Even when you think what you are writing is a failure. Remember Samuel Beckett’s advice to writers: ‘Fail better.’

AVELEEN AVIDE:
Thank you so much, Andrew, for taking the time to do this interview.

This was Aveleen Avide
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