Jonathan Lowe) Your wife is prolific as an author too. How did you come to meet her in Chicago, and did she really write a novel at Starbucks?
Andrew Grant) She is prolific! Far more so than me – she’s currently working on her fifteenth full-length novel, while I’m on my ninth. We actually met at Bouchercon – the World Mystery Convention – the year it was held in Baltimore. I was living in the UK at the time, but soon moved to Chicago where we got married. And yes – she really did write her second novel – A Poisoned Season – in the Starbucks in Franklin, TN. She started her third there, too.
JL) It sounds like something J.K. Rowling did. Historical vs suspense. What do you have in common with Tasha, and what do you like to read that's similar or different?
AG) You’re right – J.K. Rowling started out writing in a coffee shop in Edinburgh, Scotland. My elder daughter went to university there, so when I visited her I couldn’t resist going to see the place where Harry Potter was born. The main similarity Tasha and I share is our love of reading. We both devour all kinds of books in almost every genre. The main difference when it comes to our writing stems from Tasha setting her novels in the Victorian era while mine are all contemporary. This places very different demands on our research – Tasha is a trained historian who fully immerses herself in the period by drawing on a wide array of primary and secondary sources, visiting every location she writes about and even cooking food from the places she describes, while my focus tends to be more involved with current day details such as the inner workings of the world’s financial markets, the flaws in the criminal justice system, and the quirks of our various law enforcement agencies.
JL) Talk about False Witness vs More Harm than Good. Different lead characters. Royal Navy intelligence vs Detective. Trilogies?
AG) The thing those books have in common is that they’re both the third in their respective series – I wouldn’t necessarily say trilogies because I’d love to revisit both characters and still have plenty of ideas for future adventures for them. The main differences arise from what the heroes do for a living. David Trevellyan is a Royal Navy Intelligence agent, and as such he’s able to travel the globe and become involved in all kinds of espionage and political intrigue. Cooper Devereaux on the other hand is a homicide detective in Birmingham, AL and while the locations of the crimes he investigates are necessarily more fixed I take the opportunity to explore the inner psychological world of his adversaries in much greater depth.
JL) You were in drama and telecommunications. I have done everything from selling paint and later postal stamps to writing and acting in radio dramas. Is there anything more precarious and yet thrilling than writing, and do you have advice for writers?
AG) You’re right about writing! I don’t think I’ve ever experienced higher highs or lower lows in anything else I’ve ever done for a living. Or done anything as precarious! My advice for the new writers would be – ignore all advice. Write your own story in your own way. It’s impossible to chase a trend – it will have changed by the time you’ve finished your book – but for me the biggest danger is listening to all kinds of contradictory feedback and ending up with something that reads like it was written by a committee. Your work might have sharp corners and rough edges, but that’s what’ll make it stand out.
JL) How do you like Chicago? Was there once on my own for a hardware convention, and took a singles cruise with a Japanese guy to Italy, later, just to save on the single supplement fee who was from there. I wrote and read while he danced with the ladies. Funny but obsessed with ballroom dancing!
AG) We were in Chicago for almost ten years, and absolutely loved it (despite not meeting any ballroom dancing Italians!) It’s a wonderful, vibrant city full of every kind of food and entertainment and gallery and attraction you can think of. And its architecture is magnificent, too. I’m a huge mid-century fan, and Chicago has more van der Rohe’s, for example, than anywhere else. However, we eventually decided it was time for a change so went for about as big a contrast as you can possibly get and now live on a nature preserve in Wyoming where we’re surrounded by moose and elk and deer and antelope – and hardly any people.
JL) Uneasy Lies the Crown?
AG) This is the book where the inevitable finally caught up with Tasha, and Queen Victoria eventually died. Her passing sent shockwaves throughout the empire, and brought with it a particularly perilous problem for Lady Emily and her husband Colin to navigate their way through.
JL) Do you listen to audiobooks? Stephen King is a big fan. I like them because it extends reading time to forever, plus some great voice acting. I knew Frank Muller, who was King's fav, and read some of his books. A pioneer in the business going back quite a long time now.
AG) I like the idea of extended reading time! I haven’t quite made the leap to audio books yet, though. Perhaps it’s time I find some recorded by Frank Muller and give them a try…
JL) What's next for you and Tasha?
AG) Tasha is putting the finishing touches to the next Lady Emily mystery which is set in Pompeii – and it’s wonderful! Meanwhile I’m working on the second in my current series which features Paul ‘The Janitor’ McGrath, who fights for justice on the streets and in the boardrooms of New York City.