As we talk Crime, Cardiff and Chocolate Olive Oil Cake…
Welcome Graham H. Miller! Tell me a bit about your latest book:
It’s a crime novel introducing Jonah Greene, a detective who feels his career has reached a dead-end. Following time off for stress he’s pushed sideways to work for the coroner. His first case is a homeless man who died on a freezing cold night. A list of names written by the dead man raises more questions, but no-one apart from Jonah is interested in investigating.
What inspired you to write it?
The big idea behind it is the tension between the generations. It’s over 25 years since I was at University, but I remember those times as being so bright and intense. We were so young and naive and everything seemed earnest and important. The book is a classic what “happened twenty years ago” plot so you get to see the consequences of the decisions that the characters made when they were young. On top of this my main character is facing a personal crisis in a police force that is at times bureaucratic and at others displays old-fashioned prejudice to mental health issues.
Cardiff and South Wales feature prominently – what did you learn about them while writing this book?
I picked Cardiff as a setting as it’s near enough that I can go there for a wander whenever I need inspiration. Cardiff and actually all of Wales are massively under represented in terms of crime writing. I expected Hinterland (Y Gwyll in Welsh) to kick-start a kind of Welsh-noir scene but it doesn’t seem to have happened yet. That being said, I am networking with some very promising authors all writing crime novels set in Wales.
Cardiff itself is a fascinating city. When there is a capital city, the assumption is that it’s ancient and has always been a seat of power. But with Cardiff there was a concerted PR campaign starting in the late Victorian era. Philanthropists like Lord Bute decided to first elevate it to city status and then on to capital. So they built areas like Cathays Park and Bute Park to give it a status. These places are incredible, all marble columns, public parks, and proud statues. Cathays also houses the National Museum, Library, Law Courts and University buildings. Before they spent all the money, Cardiff was an ordinary town with a castle and either Swansea or Merthyr Tydful were more likely contenders for the capital of Wales.
For a writer Cardiff offers huge appeal. As well as Cathays, it has been reinvented again in the 2000s as the bay was redeveloped. Now it has a huge pedestrian area with shops and cafes. The choice of locations around Cardiff is huge – the suburbs cover everything from the expensive detached mansions down to the ex-steel works terraces and all points in between. Outside the city,you have coast, countryside, the valleys and industrial towns.
Kindle or physical book?
Despite being very technical (I used to work as a programmer) I’ve resisted getting any e-reader. I occasionally read books on the Kindle app on my phone if they’re not available in any other format. I know the time is coming in the next couple of months when I’ll buy a Kindle and I’ll probably be a total convert when that happens.
There’s a Nigella recipe for a chocolate olive oil cake that is gluten free and actually has better texture and taste than any cake with flour in it.
Despite writing about South Wales, any favourite place of mine would be a stone circle, probably Stonehenge if I had to pick just one.
Do you have any advice to pass on to other writers?
Write what you want to read. If you’re not interested by what you’re writing then your readers won’t be either. You should sit down thinking “I’ve just got to write this, it’s so good!” and then your readers will pick up on it.
You can order Graham’s current novel, The List, via the links below, as well as keeping up with his writing news via social media:
Mailing list http://eepurl.com/cM1q3v