Richard Godwin is the critically acclaimed author of Apostle Rising, Mr. Glamour, One Lost Summer, Noir City, Meaningful Conversations, Confessions Of A Hit Man, Paranoia And The Destiny Programme, Wrong Crowd, Savage Highway, Double Lives, The Pure And The Hated, Disembodied, Buffalo And Sour Mash and Locked In Cages. His stories have been published in numerous paying magazines and over 34 anthologies, among them an anthology of his stories, Piquant: Tales Of The Mustard Man, and The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime and The Mammoth Book Of Best British Mystery, alongside Lee Child. He was born in London and lectured in English and American literature at the University of London. He also teaches creative writing at University and workshops.
Godwin was interviewed by Hector Duarte Jr. for Sliver of Stone.
Sliver of Stone: What are your creative influences? Give me a mix of writers, filmmakers, musicians, and other artists. Briefly describe how they influence your work.
Richard Godwin: Influences are hard to determine. But I’ll tell you who I like. Shakespeare, Jonson, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Conrad, TS Eliot, Jonson, Graham Greene, Elmore Leonard, James Lee Burke. The Coen brothers, Martin Scorsese. The Black Crowes, Frank Zappa, JJ Cale, Captain Beefheart, Nickelback, David Bowie, of course, Miles Davis, Jo Satriani. Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Monet, Dali and the entire Italian Renaissance, among others.
S.O.S: What is Brit grit? Who are some pioneers of the genre? Name some contemporary Brit grit writers we should look out for.
R.G: It is hardboiled and utterly Brit, with a nail in the bag. Paul Brazill.
S.O.S: What makes the grit specifically Brit?
R.G: Our knowledge of the vernacular. And how to use it drunk and wearing knuckledusters.
S.O.S: Some might cite your stories as pervasively sexual or violent. What do you say to that? Are you careful when writing sex/violence?
R.G: I say first of all we need to make a distinction between perverted, which none of my writing is, it describes everyday sexual desires, and many people confuse the two words, and perverse, which means ‘willfully determined or disposed to go counter to what is expected or desired; contrary.’
On the latter it is, for reasons of Artistic verisimilitude. I am always careful when writing. But there is no more violence in my writing than in a day’s worth of newspapers.
S.O.S: What are you reading right now?
R.G: James Lee Burke’s latest novel, The House of The Rising Sun.
S.O.S: Describe your typical writing routine. Is there music playing in the background? Do you rise with the sun or are you a night owl?
R.G: I get up I write.
S.O.S: How do grit, noir, and pulp point a finger at the faults rife in society?
R.G: They expose the underbelly of society. They are the ultimate subtext.
S.O.S: When you start a new project, do you typically have a central message or theme in mind you’re trying to highlight? Or do you just go?
R.G: Sometimes but usually, no. I start with the characters and dialogue.
S.O.S: How does something pique your interest enough for you to say: “I’ll write a story about this.”?
R.G: It just stays with me long enough.
S.OS: The noir/pulp genre in general seems to be looked down on, or snubbed all together, amongst academics. Why do you think this is? Do you see a day when these stories will be widely accepted and taught in academia? Does it matter whether it is?
R.G: The academic and entrenched literary establishment are frightened and unaware, as if they are part of Pirandello’s Six Characters In Search Of An Author. They look for cultural cross referencing of a kind only Saul Bellow did well. They are scared to be seen in certain company. They mirror the lower ends of pulp. The uncertain. It is all about identity. That means they are unaware that they have lost their focus. Some of the best writing is coming out of crime fiction. Some of the worst out of the literary world. It is all about the narrative. I may be taught more widely. I do not think it matters what they teach in academia, they are victims of propaganda. It is about storytelling. George Orwell talked about the test of time.
You can find out more about Richard Gowdin at his website www.richardgodwin.net , where you can read a full list of his works, and where you can also read his Chin Wags at The Slaughterhouse, his highly popular and unusual interviews with other authors.