Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the three hundred and sixty-seventh, is of Laurence Walker. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Born in 1978, in England, Laurence has worked for most of the past 10 years as a commodities journalist, mainly attached to international energy news services and magazines. He spent a number of years working in Russia and the former Soviet Union (initially teaching English and later as a freelance journalist), settling back in England with his family in 2007, ahead of the birth of his second son.
Laurence’s work-related travel – which has taken him to places as diverse as a coal terminal in Russia’s Arctic Circle and the tobacco fields of southern Kyrgyzstan – and the people he’s met along the way have provided some inspiration for his fiction writing.
His debut novel, Under a Russian Heaven, is out now from 280 Steps, and he’s currently working on a crime novel, set in Central Asia.
And now from the author himself:
My novel, Under a Russian Heaven, is the story of a young Englishman working as a teacher in a provincial Russian city, whose carefree life as a fledging expat spirals out of control after he meets the beautiful daughter of a local businessman, with tragic consequences.
I began this novel as an antidote to the rigid, largely emotionless writing style required for my day job, reporting on energy and commodity markets. However, I also found my years of following market reporting house style rules, such as avoiding superfluous words and keeping descriptions crisp and clean, hopefully proved of some benefit to my fiction writing. I wanted to keep the novel relatively short and to the point, it’s just that I had more freedom, and no need to refer to a commodity price or quote an anonymous trader in every other sentence. It felt quite liberating.
Under a Russian Heaven does draw on my experiences and observations in Russia, but also more generally on places and people I’ve known in recent years. In fact, I’d originally planned to set the whole book in the English seaside town of Hastings – where later parts of the story take place – but soon realised it would have to, at least partially, be set in Russia. Despite being English, I have a healthy respect for, and interest in, American literature – from Steinbeck and Fitzgerald, to Chandler and Cain. I felt the straight-talking, noir style suited the story well, with life and the characters I’d met in Russia in the late 1990s and early 2000s often reminding me of those dark film noirs of the 1940s and 1950s. It’s that sense of some overriding and unavoidable threat, coupled with bursts of violence, dark humour and romance – so well achieved in those films and early pulp novels – that I’ve attempted to capture with Under a Russian Heaven.
I feel extremely fortunate that crime publisher 280 Steps has included the novel in its 2014 lineup of well-established and respected crime writers.
You can find more about Laurence and his writing via…
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