A Chat with Maxim Jakubowski

tlr maxim

‘An intriguing mixture of past tradition and future-shock dystopia, written by a giant of the genre … highly recommended.’ Lee Child

The Dark. What if an electromagnetic wave wiped out the internet? “Goodbye Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, chatrooms, websites, commerce made easy cyber-style, contactless, electronic life; farewell to everything we had delegated to that mythical cloud, wiped out without even ashes to mark its passing.”

Although there’s an upside. Librarians and fact checking journalists are now in greater demand. 

The people who loved books were now at the top of the

evolutionary ladder, while the bankers and their ilk had sunk to

the bottom.” Now you’re talking. 

A femme fatale needs to find her sister, a nod to Raymond Chandler. Our narrator, journalist turned private investigator, is however vulnerable and bookish, closer to most readers than a wise-cracking tough guy.

“There was nothing remarkable about me. Had never been. 

Apart from the propensity to get hurt by the world of women. Bruises that became internal scars long after any hypothetical physical evidence had been erased by the passage of time. 

Each woman a chapter. 

Each one a bittersweet regret, for what had not happened or, if it perchance had, for losing her, having not allowed myself to be fully open to her affection or confusing lust with love, leaving only memories that became deeply imprinted in my psyche.”

This is also a search for the protagonist’s lost love, from 

New York through Chicago down the Mississippi to New Orleans, where the occult takes centre stage. There’s some gruelling ordeals along the way – no one will forget the wrestling match with a female MMA fighter. There’s sensual evocative writing throughout. The ending stays with you as does the preliminary journey. An enthralling tale, well told. 

Maxim J

MR I’m in awe of your workload: running Murder One, reviewing many books, writing your own, editing anthologies, book tours, translating. ghost writing, columnist. I’ve probably missed something out. Are you working harder than ever? 

Actually, not all in same time! I’m only human. Murder One closed some years back and I no longer have any involvement. And have never done any ghost writing; I have written 11 novels over past years under another name (some of which even reached the Sunday Times Top 10) and that author/name is still under wraps for commercial reasons but that’s the nearest I’ve come to being a ghost in my own writing life! And, no, am not working harder and feel at times that I do a lot of procrastinating and could do more. But there’s still a life to live… 

MR From the acknowledgments to the excellent The Louisiana Republic: ‘This is my first novel under my own name in some years, having taken a sabbatical of sorts – if you consider writing 11 novels in under 3 1/2 years a sabbatical- in another literary genre, collaborating on a rather successful series.’ Do you feel freer as a ghost writer? Less concerned with possible criticism?

The reason those particular books were under another name was because the publishers and the buyers at the chains and supermarkets felt they would do better as if coming from a new ‘voice’. And also under a female pseudonym! They were commercially right as those novels have done so much better than anything I’ve done under my name, so go figure. When I look at them, I am proud of them and people in the know instantly recognise them as coming from my rather perverse imagination anyway, so didn’t hold back in the slightest when penning them (with a collaborator…).

MR Do you speed read? Does that affect enjoyment of a text?

I read fast but not actually speed read. One still needs the time to savour, appreciate the style and atmosphere. 

MR Are there any idiomatic expressions that are hard to translate? 

The vocabulary of sex and how to express it is a constant challenge, but that makes matters interesting, I reckon. 

MR I remember that wild Robin Cook night at Murder One. Is there anything you’d like to share about Robin Cook/Derek Raymond? 

Just a great friend and human being, and one I miss a lot despite fact we were poles apart (I don’t drink…). I’m his literary executor so still heavily involved with his books which, fingers crossed, might soon be adapted for television.

MR What’s your next project? 

Another novel under my own name. Working title is ‘The Memory of Absence’, but still unclear what it will specifically be about, but will no doubt drag along all my customary obsessions. I also have a few short stories appearing this year and my ongoing column and chairing/judging one he Crime Writers’ Association’s Daggers (I’m Vice Chair of the CWA). And recently completed translating the second novel by my friend Johana Gustawsson, ‘Keeper’ which appears almost simultaneously along with my own book, and we’ll be promoting together.

You can read the first chapter of The Louisiana Republic if you join the Times Crime Club.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/newsletter-signup-crimeclub-cw8qsvlg2

 Keep in touch with Mr Jakubowski here.
http://www.maximjakubowski.co.uk

MR Still scourging myself after blearily confusing ghost writing and pseudonymous writing. Time to stop. I’m starting to like it.
I’m currently looking for someone less slapdash to ghost all of my writing and actually be me on a permanent basis. Applicants need to be more efficient than a sixty one year old, insomniac, recovering alcoholic addict, so only the best need apply. There is no remuneration but this will be ‘great exposure for you’.

H’mm, I’m trying to stay away from doomy cynicism, which can be a self-fulfilling prophecy so quick reminder that a good way of avoiding self-destructive behaviour is to practise more gratitude and less envy. A little less cynicism. Park the snark!
(Also, being cheerful will enrage your opponents.)

Pharrel Williams’ Happy – Centrist Dad makeover by trumpet virtuoso Till Bronner. Righteous groove by drumming legend Vinnie Colaiuta

 

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