Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Roger Smith

Roger Smith was born in Johannesburg and now lives in Cape Town. His debut thriller, Mixed Blood (2009), was published in six countries and won the Deutscher Krimi Preis (German Crime Prize). His second book, Wake Up Dead (2010), was a 10 best pick of the Philadelphia Enquirer, Times (South Africa) and Krimiwelt (Germany) and was nominated for the German Krimi-Blitz Reader’s Award. Mixed Blood and Wake Up Dead were nominated for Spinetingler Magazine New Voice Awards in the U.S. and both books are in development as feature films. His third book, Dust Devils, is published internationally in 2011.

Last month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I bought a Kindle recently and it inspired me to download and reread – for the umpteenth time – one of my favorite books, The Hunter by Richard Stark (a pseudonym of Donald E. Westlake). This tight piece of gutter existentialism, lean as a Brazilian supermodel, follows Parker (no first name, no morals, precious little backstory) an ex-con out of prison and out for revenge.

I first consumed this book as an impressionable early-teen (I still have the dog-eared little paperback, its spine broken, the silver cover sporting a bullet hole and the one-liner: a novel of violence) and have to lay the blame for becoming a crime writer squarely at Mr Stark’s door. He showed me that protagonists don’t have to be nice and that character could (and should) be defined by action, and I was so impressed I sat down and tried to write my own crime novel.

Sadly, it took me thirty-something years to finish my first book, but I have never forgotten my debt to Richard Stark. And The Hunter remains as fresh as when it was first published in the early sixties – an antidote to the bloated Scandinavian bookshelf-benders the world is so enamoured of.
Watch the Dust Devils trailer, and learn more about the book and author at Roger Smith's website.

Read about Roger Smith's top 10 crime novels.

The Page 69 Test: Mixed Blood.

The Page 69 Test: Wake Up Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue