Today, on Why Words Work, we talk to Chris Ewan! As a bestselling crime author, Chris Ewan has written a variety of successful, suspenseful stories, including Safe House, Long Time Lost and – obviously – The Good Thief’s Guide series!
I absolutely love these books. In them, we follow thief/crime novelist Charlie Howard, and his literary agent Victoria, across the continent on criminal capers. I already reviewed The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris earlier this year, loving every minute of it.
The series is being re-released on 20th June with some GORGEOUS new covers. And Chris is here to tell us more about the series, as well as some insights into his writing life.
So, without further ado, here’s Chris Ewan!
First things first, the new covers for The Good Thief’s Guide Series – What do you think? Do they capture the spirit of the series?
I’m really delighted with the new covers. They capture perfectly the feel of the books for me and I really like the slightly retro vibe. Plus, you can’t go wrong with bright colours!
Charlie Howard is an author and a thief. More often than not, despite his good intentions, his greed/arrogance often gets him tangled up in sticky situations. How hard was it to balance Charlie’s likeablility and his mischievous, self-motivated thievery?
Keeping Charlie likeable despite his endless thieving is probably the biggest challenge when I’m writing about the Good Thief – but also the most fun part! I like to think Charlie is a pretty engaging guy to hang out with and his sense of humour is a big part of that. Plus, it’s always interesting to write about somebody with a very flexible sense of right and wrong and to explore the possibilities that opens up for storytelling.
Victoria, in contrast, is Charlie’s no nonsense literary agent. By book 2, she’s his closest friend and partner. How important is Victoria to the narrative of The Good Thief’s Guide? What does she bring to the table?
Victoria is essential. In part, she’s the moral conscience for the books and she’s also Charlie’s sounding board, which allows the pair of them to discuss whatever mess Charlie has got himself caught up in. Most important of all, of course, is the will-they wont-they romance between Charlie and Victoria. I have my own ideas for how that should develop. I’m pretty sure Charlies does, too!
The Good Thief’s Guide Series, despite an English protagonist, take place outside of the UK. Predominantly in Europe. Is there a reason for this?
Yes, I wanted to combine an element of travel fiction with crime fiction. Plus it didn’t hurt that I got to pay research visits to Amsterdam, Paris, Vegas, Venice and Berlin!
Out of the five thief books, which was your favourite location to write about and why?
That’s a tough one. I lived and worked in Amsterdam for six months and fell in love with the city, so I’ll always have a soft spot for it. Then again, visiting Venice out of season and walking among the deserted Venetian streets in late autumn was a truly atmospheric and memorable experience that is hard to beat.
Naturally, a lot of research goes into Charlie’s misadventures, but what is the hardest thing to research for the books?
It’s a combination of writing about the locations with authority and explaining how to pick locks and crack safes without going into too much detail and sparking a mini crimespree!
Alongside The Good Thief’s Guide Series, you have also written a handful of thrillers; ones with a much grittier tone and plot. How do your writing experiences compare between one and the other?
The basic story approach is the same but, as you say, the tone is completely different. The Good Thief books probably reflect my most natural writing voice and so I especially enjoy writing about Charlie Howard because of that. But it’s nice to explore my darker side with standalone thrillers, too.
Alright, time for the hard question: Which two authors have inspired you the most and why?
Raymond Chandler for sure. His books – especially The Long Goodbbye – made me want to write crime fiction in the first place. After that, it’s too hard to say because I am a fan of so many crime writers and they’ve all influenced and inspired my writing in different ways.
Alongside The Good Thief’s Guide re-release, are there any other projects or events in the pipeline that you can share
I’m working on a new thriller at the moment, which I hope to have finished before too long. After that, I’m starting to think of the next Good Thief’s Guide story I can tell and where to take Charlie and Victoria next.
And finally, to all the writers out there who want to pen the next exciting caper, what’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share?
Write every day and always make the time for your writing – no excuses! That’s easy to say, maybe, but I think it really makes a difference.
Another huge thank you to Chris Ewan! Don’t forget to check out The Good Thief’s Guide Box Set, as well as Chris’s website, Facebook and Twitter. What do you think of the brand new covers? Let me know in the comments below!