The Jackson Lamb series by Mick Herron is an alternative spy novel that focuses on the secret services castaways. It focuses on those who were not quite fired but may well have been either due to something they done or personal issues. They are sent to work in the mind-numbing Slough House. I would say that this is also one of my favourite series of books as each character has their flaws but you sympathise with how they feel being stuck in an office and not out ‘saving the world’. Each character is developed throughout the series giving you an insight into why they are in Slough House and them as a person. You see each of their relationships or not so much and experience both highs and lows whilst reading. The book is written in such a way that you are totally immersed in the book and want to continue to read on to the next one. I find that the exploration of the characters backgrounds adds to the enjoyments on the books as it allows you to comprehend the situation that they are in and how desperate they are to return to ‘the park’ and be the ones saving the day. This desperation pushes them to help in any situation they can and allows the plot of the story to make sense. This series is one that I would highly recommend to anyone as even although you may not generally read this genre it will defiantly make you want to read more.
Mick Herron the author of these great spy books is a British mystery/thriller novelist who has published a series of novels as well as a collection of short stories. He kindly agreed to answering some of my questions so I would like to thank him for taking the time to do so. I hope this gives you further insight into the series and Mick Herron as an author. Hope you enjoy.
Mick Herron Q&A:
- What made you become an author?
Impossible to say. I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer; one way or another, I’ve always written. It never really seemed a matter of choice.
- Were you influenced/inspired by any other authors?
Yes, of course. All novels, on some level, are a product of their author’s reading, and influences – conscious or unconscious – are bound to seep out in the writing. When I notice these, I try to edit them out. I’ve spent a long time trying to establish my own voice, and I’d rather it wasn’t drowned in the mix. But the strongest voices will be heard anyway. Authors I love and admire range from Austen and Dickens through to le Carré, Stephen King, Sarah Waters. And hundreds more. I’m sure there’ll be moments when their influences show through.
- Why did you choose to write in the crime/mystery genre?
The crime genre demands a certain framework, without which I’d just be scrabbling about in the dark, I expect. Knowing that I need to be working towards an ending, in which all the loose ends of plot are dealt with, forces me to pay attention to the details.
- Regarding your Jackson Lamb series, which book would you say was the most enjoyable to write and why?
I think Real Tigers. With that one, I knew where the plot was going right from the start. And the ending has a sort of James Bond vibe to it, which I enjoyed.
- What made you decide to write a series of books based on a group of service castaways?
I didn’t want to write about heroes. Writing about thwarted ambition, frustration, failure – and the occasional opportunity to shine – seemed much more satisfying, somehow. And a lot of readers can relate to characters doing miserable jobs in seedy offices…
- Do you do any research whilst writing your books?
As little as I can get away with. Writing about the secret world grants me licence to make up as much as I like.
- If you could be any character in the Jackson Lamb series who would you be and why?
Good question! Most of the characters have issues I wouldn’t want to deal with myself … But I’ve given JK Coe my own love for the work of Keith Jarrett, so I’d probably go with him. Notwithstanding that he’s a bit of a psychopath.
- What would you say is your favourite ever book?
I wouldn’t. I’d feel too bad about the ninety nine other books I’d immediately wish I’d chosen instead.
- What process do you go through when writing a new book?
Inner turmoil is a big part of it. But once ideas start thrusting themselves forward, this stage can be quite enjoyable. It doesn’t involve actual work, in the sense of writing, so can be an excuse for general laziness. I go for walks, and I lie on the sofa with my eyes closed. I put off actually starting for as long as possible.
- Finally, what advice do you have for aspiring writers and/or avid readers of crime fiction? Do you have any tips?
Aspiring writers: only do it if you love writing. Because that’s the only thing that will see you through the difficult times.
Avid readers: keep at it. There’s so much good stuff out there. Sarah Hilary, Harry Bingham, Sharon Bolton, Mark Billingham… This list could go on all day.
Mick Herron – 2018
Many thanks, Caitlin x
(PS feel free to comment your opinions on this series and author)