Ondervraagd: M.J. Arlidge (originele Engelse versie)
Thrillerlezers 14 mei 2016
Who is M.J. Arlidge? Can you describe yourself in five words?
Who is Matt Arlidge? A lover of dark worlds.
Eeny Meeny was a huge succes. Had you ever hoped or thought your books would be this succesful? How did you celebrate?
No, I was very surprised by EM's success. When you write your first book, your only thought is to get it published somehow. And then you hope that a few people might like it. But I've been very lucky and it's now sold in over thirty countries. It's an enormous thrill to think of people sitting down to read my book in Holland, France, Sweden, the US etc.
Quite a few authors have written for television before writing a book (i.e. Stefan Ahnhem). Why the change? What was so appealing about writing a book or is it something you have always wanted to do?
I've always wanted to write but never really had the courage. So I became an editor  
and producer because that was pretty close. But still I wanted to scratch that writer's itch, so I wrote a novel. The great thing about a novel is that it can be written in secrecy. Even my wife hadn't read it by the time I started submitting it to agents. I love writing for both mediums - books and TV - but you have far more creative control writing a novel, which is why it appeals to me the most.
How would you feel if your books were made into a tv series? Would you want to write the script yourself? Who'd you choose to portray your characters?
I think the Helen Grace books are very cinematic and would make great TV. I wouldn't want to write it necessarily as I have already written each story once before already. The book are currently being adapted for the BBC - the idea is that Charlotte Gainsbourg might play the lead. Let's see what happens...
Your books have been translated into other languages. I prefer to read books in English if that's the original language it's written in. Aren't you afraid the story gets lost in translation?
Well done for reading in English! And yes you have a point that occasionally some things get lost in translation. But for me the most important thing is that as many people get to read the books as possible, so translation is a necessity.
Do you have a copy of every foreign edition? Which one is the weirdest to you?
Yes, I have a copy of all of them. I love them all in their weird ways. The Korean version of Eeny Meeny was the coolest, very minimal with a gun barrel pointing towards you. The weirdest ones usually come from Eastern Europe - bright pink covers etc. My favourite one is the Polish version whose title translates as "Eeny, Meeny, Death." This is a genuine rhyme that kids sing in Poland!
How did you come up with Helen Grace? Why a female heroin? Have you based her on anyone you know?
I was reading a lot of Stieg Larsson at the time and I think Elisabeth Salander was an influence on the creation of Helen Grace. I love unusual, unconventional characters and I was determined that Helen wouldn't have any of the normal, cliches of a fictional detective, e.g. a drinking habit, a failed marriage. Helen never drinks, will probably never get married and her addiction is pain!
She is quite the character, dealing with a lot of demons, past and present ones. Why did you decide to let her deal with it the way she does? Why not just let her go for a long run or something?
Because jogging is a bit boring! Actually, as the series develops she does learn to deal with her demons in other ways, but nothing releases endorphins like the controlled use of pain!
The 6th book featuring Helen will be out later this year (Hide and seek). That's a lot of books in such a short time and I understand you have more planned. Aren't you afraid you'll get enough of Helen or that your readers might?
That's always a danger but her following seems to be growing and growing and I love writing her. I find she comes incredibly naturally to me, as if I know what she's thinking and feeling at any given time. Long live Helen!
How do you write? And I mean that as in somewhere where it's nice and quiet or do you have the music turned up really loud?
I like to vary it, but I do like to work in public places, with the music turned up on my iPod. I love classical music, but particularly like church music. It's so creepy. Music or not, the important thing is to work hard and fast. I do Monday-Friday 9am-6pm - just like a regular job!
Do you read a lot yourself? Who is your favorite writer? Do you have an all time favorite book?
Yes, I read a lot, especially crime fiction and history books. My favourite crime writers are Thomas Harris, Stieg Larsson and especially Patricia Highsmith. Her take on the world is unique and I don't think she ever wrote a bad book.
Hope these answers are ok. Maybe I'll see you when I'm in Amsterdam in June.
Best wishes,

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