When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
When I was 21 years old. I’d wanted to be a pilot in the Royal Air Force, but a slight flaw in my eyesight ended that dream. I decided to search for another dream career, and was inspired by my uncle, Christopher Jarvis, who is an artist in oils, watercolours and so on. I realised that he was doing hisjob because he loved it, rather than just because he had to pay bills. I searched for something similar, and was reading a Wilbur Smith novel when I suddenly asked myself: “Could I write something this for a living?” I’d always enjoyed creative writing at school, and the thought of doing it for a job filled me with excitement. I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t thought of it before. Now, nineteen years later, writing is my full-time profession.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Usually about six months. This includes planning and plotting, writing the first draft, leaving the manuscript alone for a month and then doing two or three redrafts to polish it until it’s as good as I can manage.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I’m very disciplined. I work Monday to Friday, from 8am until about 4pm, much like an ordinary working day. Once you’re a published writer, deadlines become important and I don’t like to miss them. I also work some evenings and weekends if I’m particularly busy. When I think about it, even when I’m not “working” there’s hardly a moment in the day when I’m not considering a particular book, scene or plotline of some kind. Writing does that sometimes, consumes an author entirely.
How many crime novels have you written?
I’m just performing the copy-edit on my fifth Ethan Warner novel at the time of writing, which is to be published in December 2013 by Simon & Schuster, but I’ve written seven novels in all: post-apocalyptic thriller “Eden” and Young Adult thriller “Soul Seekers” being the other titles.
Which is your favourite and why?
My favourite novel right now is “Eden”, which is actually a self-published title. It’s a book that I’d wanted to write for a couple of years, but writing two Ethan Warner novels per year for Simon & Schuster / Touchstone USA pretty much took up all of my time. I loved writing Eden because it’s a story that could happen tomorrow and contains characters like you and me: ordinary people thrust into a terrifying survival situation. There are no bad-guys or good-guys per se – it’s about who we become when our lives are endangered by events far beyond our control, and how those events shape otherwise ordinary people into heroes and villains.
Where do you get your ideas?
From everywhere, including purely from my imagination, but most often it’s through reading about an event, person or fact. Sometimes I get a tingle down my spine when I read something and realise that I can build a story around it, much in the same way that I see a book in a shop and get excited because it’s right up my street and I absolutely must buy and read it. Once that happens my imagination runs wild and I produce copious notes for days on end before slowing down and beginning the process of building a coherent plot.
Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?
Cody Ryan, the protagonist in Eden. He’s an ordinary guy who has to become something he’s not in order to survive, and he struggles as we all would with the stress of confronting situations far outside his comfort zone. He’s a character that any reader can project themselves onto and ask: “Would I have done that?” or “Could I do that, if I had to?”
Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
Han Solo, the original anti-hero in Star Wars. There is something about uncompromising heroes with a heart of gold that continues to fascinate people, regardless of the genre in which they appear.
If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
I’d really like to have the chance to see what went on behind the scenes in the US Government during the 9/11 attacks. I don’t subscribe to all the conspiracy rubbish about an inside job etc, but there does seem to be something slightly “off” about the whole event, too many coincidences and mismatched reports from the Bush administration. I’d love to have been in Colin Powell’s shoes, finding out what really happened, because it was the US government that empowered al-Queda in the first place through arms sales in the Russian-Afghan war of the late 80’s.
What are you working on now?
Multiple projects! A crime novel entitled “Stone Cold”, to be submitted to publishers via my agent, Luigi Bonomi, in the autumn; a thriller called “Holo-Sapiens” likewise for traditional publishers, and sequels to both “Soul Seekers” and “Eden” for publication next year.
Dean Crawford began writing after his dream of becoming a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force was curtailed when he failed their stringent sight tests. His Ethan Warner series of high-concept novels have regularly featured on the Sunday Times paperback bestseller list and have sold all over the world. A full-time author, he lives with his partner and daughter in Surrey.
The Ethan Warner series
The Chimera Secret
The Eden Trilogy
The Soul Seekers series