Friday, 29 October 2010

Thriller writer Stephen Leather's masterclass

Thriller writer Stephen Leather has a score of books to his name and his sales have topped the 2 million mark. I read his breakthrough novel The Chinaman a while ago and saw at once he was a master of his craft. But the genre isn’t my particular cup of tea.
I’ve come to praise his generosity to aspiring writers - the popularity of his novels can speak for themselves.
If I hadn’t met Steve thirty years or so ago when he was still a financial reporter – and bumped into him a handful of times since – I would never had cause to seek out his website www.stephenleather.com
I would have been the poorer. For someone such as myself who is fascinated by the process of writing, I would have missed out on a first-rate insight into how a successful author goes about his business.
His section ‘How I work’ is riveting. He details the preparation required ahead of a new book; the hardware he uses; the monastic life while he’s writing; and the physical toll that comes with writing a book a year.
Leather shares ‘Useful links’, ‘How to get published’, and the thrillers and films he admires. Every observation is addressed with complete candour. “Most agents are scum-sucking parasites,” he writes not necessarily tongue in cheek.
He has had some of his work televised – but clearly not enough for his satisfaction. “The British television industry has become a haven for very untalented people,” he writes.
Leather is published by Hodder & Stoughton. The publishing house wants him to stay focussed on his successful formula. So work that falls outside this orbit he has made available free to his readers online. It goes to show that even an established writer isn’t at liberty to follow his muse.
Leather says he welcomes emails so while we haven’t had any contact for perhaps upwards of 10 years, I’ll drop him a line about this post.


1 comment:

  1. I quite agree GC, says Jaffa. Also very interesting pictures of him as a karate black belt with Chuck Norris, plus another showing him being warmly greeted by Tony Blair.

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What do you think? GC