Have you ever thought about committing a crime/committed a crime?
Being a writer is like committing a crime. You are ripping people and whole societies apart without ever wanting to put them together again. You move deeper and deeper into chaos with every word, every step.
Who is the worst (or best) villain of the history of (crime) literature?
The worst villain in the history of crime literature is Dashiell Hammett, since he created the whole mess, and we’ve never recovered from the wonderful murderous poetry of his language.
Do you remember the first person you ever killed in your novels?
Yes, it was myself, in my first opus written when I was ten. Somehow, I managed to recover and resurrect myself.
The Beatles or Stones question: Chandler oder Hammett?
Have you ever seen a dead body? And how did it affect your life?
Yes, I saw it one in the New York City morgue while I was researching Blue Eyes, and the man I saw on that terrible table looked like a dead Indian. It didn’t affect my life at all, but my brother, a homicide detective, turned grey after looking at the corpse.
Have you ever witnessed a crime?
Yes, but I’d rather not talk about it.
Is there anybody in the world you’d rather see dead?
This is an unfortunate question; I could include many people, but then I would have to play god. And I am more like a quiet devil.
How did you make a living before you became a success as a writer?
I don’t know what success as a writer means. Writers shouldn’t earn money with their work. They’re poets and priests. They should be as generous as Saint Francis, giving all their words away. But they are allowed to beg for bread. I was a college teacher most of my life, and I had a great deal of fun with my students. I loved to teach film rather than literature and creative writing, and perhaps my own novels are films in slow motion.
If you wouldn’t write crime novels – what would you (like to) do?
There’s nothing else I would like to do and there’s nothing else I have ever done or could ever do. I love my one feline and one human cat.
Do you listen to music when you are writing? And if this is a yes: What kind of music?
No, but I do listen to music after I’m writing. I love Leonard Cohen.
Do you prefer to write at day or at night? At your desk at home or everywhere you go?
I’m very creaky at the moment. I work as much as I can, day or night. But if I don’t write the sentences down, the poetry falls right out of my head.
Are the any days where you can’t write a word? What do you do then?
When I can’t write a word, I play with my cat.
What happens after death? And: What should happen after death?
This is the great mystery that troubled Shakespeare and also troubles me. Nothing happens after death. We wish our words will remain and continue to delight. But how will I ever know?
Crime and Punishment: What do you think of capital punishment?
Certain predators should probably be shot down, particularly those who prey upon the weak, but I would not want to be their executioner.
What do you make of Bert Brecht’s statement: „What is the robbing of a bank compared to the founding of a bank?“
This is a real conundrum. I understand what Brecht meant but we have moved into a much darker landscape than his own. It’s usually bank robbers who go on to found another bank. This continues until infinity.
What should be written on your tombstone?
This is a difficult question. Perhaps I never lived and never will. Therefore my tombstone will remain numb.