Praise for James Twining:
‘Crackles along’ Daily Mail
‘James Twining knows how to grip’ Times Literary Supplement
‘The narrative is fast-paced and the result is highly entertaining’ Peter Gutteridge
‘If there's a better thriller this year I would like to see it' Jack Higgins
‘Twining is a worthy successor to Forsyth, Follett, and Higgins. Highly recommended' Christopher Reich
‘Far better stories and much better written than The Da Vinci Code, this series is crying out for either small or big screen treatment - Brilliant stuff!’ www.booksmonthly.co.uk
‘…if you loved The Da Vinci Code, this is for you!’ Closer
1. When did you start writing?
I was not one of these people who grew up desperate to be a writer. In fact when I wrote my first book, The Double Eagle
, in 2004, it was the first time I had attempted to write any fiction since my Third Form poetry competition! That said, when I was clearing out my parents’ garage a few years ago, I came across a couple of old notebooks crammed with random plot and character ideas. I don’t remember writing any of it, but perhaps some small corner of my brain has wanted to be an author all along. It just took a while for the rest of me to catch up. 2. Where do you write?
The last two books have mainly been written in the Humanities Reading Room at the British Library. I get too easily distracted at home, although the coffee is a lot cheaper. I usually sit in the same place and get very annoyed if someone else gets there first. 3. What are the pros and cons of being a writer?
Every job has its good and bad points. Writing can be a very lonely business that lacks the camaraderie and company that a normal office workplace provides. It can also be, contrary to most people's belief in free-flowing artistic inspiration, a seemingly endless process of re-writing, editing and proofing that tests your patience and your resolve to the very limit. However, it is also a very rewarding experience in terms of both the creative outlet that it provides, which so many jobs never give you the opportunity to explore, and the pleasure provided by producing something that other people enjoy. Overall, it’s worth the pain. 4. What writers have inspired you?
I’m told that when I was twelve, I went on holiday to the South of France. If I sound uncertain, then it’s because I can’t remember a single thing about it. On the flight out, I picked up a copy of Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity
at the airport bookshop and sat, utterly bewitched, until I finished the last page of The Bourne Ultimatum
on the flight home a week later, having tracked both it and The Bourne Supremacy
down in Nice’s only English language bookshop. Having mainlined Ludlum
, I discovered that I had established a thriller habit that my French Literature degree only briefly interrupted. I soon turned to Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler to get my fix, before crossing back over the Atlantic to feed my addiction with Ian Fleming, Frederick Forsyth, Jack Higgins and Ken Follett, to name but a few. It is not the best written book I have ever read and other books have affected me more deeply. The Great Gatsby
, by Fitzgerald achieves that rare feat of combining a brilliant story with an almost poetic reflection on love, money, class and the empty heart of the American Dream. I still turn to it now, whenever I am feeling low or lacking inspiration, opening a page at random and just diving in. But nothing will ever match that first, breathless encounter with Jason Bourne, the way he grabbed me from the very first page, carried me in his wake like a passing storm, and then deposited me, 400 pages later, desperate for more. It opened my eyes to a world of possibility and excitement. When I came to write my own novels years later, there was never any chance I’d write anything else. 5. How important is a sense of place in your writing?
People often also describe my books as being cinematic. This isn’t me trying to dress a screenplay up as a novel, but a deliberate attempt to place the reader directly within the scene, reflecting my own sense that the modern reader, thanks to TV and the cinema, need to be able to really visualize the action to connect with it. Providing a strong and believable sense of place also anchors the realism and credibility of the whole novel and makes for an interesting dynamic as readers are left unsure where the fiction begins or ends. 6. Do you spend a lot of time researching your novels?
My novels are based around real events, works of art and places, all of which involves a lot of research. The latest book, for example, The Geneva Deception
, is based on the global trade in illicitly excavated antiquities, as well as the ongoing search for a priceless Carravaggio stolen by the Mafia in the 1960s. My research typically involves reading various text books, visiting as many of the places described in the book as I can, and immersing myself on-line for weeks at a time. Cracking safes, picking locks, smuggling weapons, counterfeiting paintings - it’s amazing what you can find if you know where to look! 7. Do your characters ever surprise you?
Of course. Although I spend a lot of time thinking about all the different characters and plot lines and how they all fit together before I even pick up a pen, every so often you have to just sit back and let the character take over and drive for a little rather than force them to do or say something they just wouldn’t. This can be a little scary, but it’s exciting too, especially with the villains where you can really let them run riot. 8. How much of your life and the people around you do you put into your books?
Inevitably much more than I probably even realize myself. It’s no coincidence that Tom Kirk, my art thief hero, for example, shares my love of backgammon and expensive watches, or that several of the books take place in Paris where I lived as a child, or that pinball machines feature in most of the books. And quite a few of the characters are named after friends of mine (which I then take a perverse delight in killing off), or are Frankenstein creations, having been sown together from different aspects of people I know or have met.
9. How did it feel when you saw your book in print for the first time?
I have to admit to not really remembering seeing the book in print for the first time. What I do remember, however, is seeing it in Borders at the airport the week after it was published. I was on my way to the US and had been given a whole bay to myself, with a big poster overhead. Having had my own love of thrillers triggered by buying The Bourne Identity
in an airport nearly twenty years before, it gave me a real sense of achievement, and of my journey from reader to writer coming full circle, to see my book out there alongside all the writers I had grown up reading. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing now? Plotting my next heist!