It started when I was young: when I was a slightly out of step little boy in South Wales with a Bogart fixation and a love of old films.
A craving for noir and femmes fatales that I cemented by my reading, then re-reading and re-reading again of all Raymond Chandler’s novels. (Well, I only read PLAYBACK the once, but it would be the rare person who read that numerous times.) In addition I read Dashiell Hammet, Jim Thompson and James Cain, but Chandler was the one I always returned to.
As I grew up I discovered James Ellroy and Megan Abbott, and their brand of Hollywood stories. Then there was a period when I read showbiz biography after showbiz biography – Orson Welles, Cary Grant, Marlene Dietrich, Billy Wilder, Lana Turner, Alfred Hitchcock – and loved them all. I loved the prying back of the glamour and finding something sadder and more commonplace underneath. Or, in the case of the Hollywood novels, finding something sordid and scandalous underneath.
In recent years I have got heavily into Karina Longworth’s superb YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS podcast, which is factual, but has given me some incredible stories I have mostly never heard before.
And yes, before you ask, I greatly enjoyed FEUD.
So, I’ve always had a love for tales of salaciousness behind the Hollywood glamour, but the problem I had with writing such a story myself was that I’m not American; I’ve only been to Los Angeles once and not for a long enough period that I can remotely say I know it. It’s not my city, it’s not my world and for me to try and insert myself into that milieu as a resident of south-west London, would just expose my ignorance.
But there was of course a British film industry.
Shabbier and more provincial, it was nevertheless a place I could write my stories, in the city which is now my home. The kind of tales to capture my love of Raymond Chandler, Megan Abbott and Jim Thompson, but in a British setting. To take all this showbiz nonsense that’s been bubbling away in my head for the last thirty years, marry it to my darker ideas and create a story which is part of a smaller and more parochial film industry, but is still suffused with glamour nonetheless.
Thus, my ‘Silver Screen Noir’ series.
And the first novel, DIANA CHRISTMAS.
A book infused with my youthful passions, and exactly the kind of tense and unpredictable tale I’ve always wanted to tell. Right now it feels like I’ve been waiting my whole life to write this novel; it’s a culmination of so many things that have been going around in my head for years…