Last year, I read a fantastic book called Sirens. It was a great detective noir and Aidan Waits instantly became a favorite character of mine. The Smiling Man is the new installment in this amazing series, and I’m glad to say it was even better than the first one. I want to thank Joseph Knox for taking the time to answer my questions. Good luck with everything!
1. Tell us about your new book The Smiling Man. Will there be more books featuring Aidan?
The Smiling Man is based around a real-life unsolved murder. I’ve changed the location and some of the details but essentially the body is found of a well-dressed man who has no identification on his person. Things get stranger when it’s discovered that the labels have been removed from his clothes, that his teeth have been filed down, that his fingerprints have been removed, etc. The questions hanging over the book are: who is this man? Why has he gone to such great lengths to hide his identity? And, of course, who killed him?
There are also a couple of subplots, one involving revenge porn and one involving a series of home invasions. There is also a spate of unexplained dustbin fires that eagle-eyed readers might want to keep an eye on.
There will be one more Aidan Waits novel.
2. How has your life changed since the publication of Sirens?
In almost every way. I think I’d been overdrawn for ten years before I signed a book deal, and I’d certainly never done anything of note with my life. My first book took eight years to write, and for most of that time I thought I’d never finish it, so the relief of now having two novels to my name is great!
The most wonderful thing is to see the work get translated, though, and to visit new readers, cities and countries. It’s a great privilege which I try not take for granted.
3. What do you usually do on publication day? Do you have a tradition?
A great deal of alcohol is involved, although that’s less by tradition and more by instinct. For the launch of Sirens I went back to the Manchester bookshop I used to work in, and this year I’ll be returning with The Smiling Man. I’ll see family, old friends and colleagues, do a boozy talk about the book and then sign. I try to say yes to every opportunity the publisher gives me, so I’m also undertaking a short tour of some bookshops and libraries, as well as doing press and interviews. Last year I visited 70 bookshops in ten days! It’s exhausting but, once again, a great privilege.
4. What are your hobbies?
Reading is my main one. Without it, I’d be a mad man. After that, they’re movies and music. I just saw The Phantom Thread, which I loved, and went to see the US rapper Kendrick Lamar a couple of weeks ago which was BEYOND inspiring. I run four or five days a week as I find it helps me keep things in perspective and not get stressed about writing and the world in general.
5. What are some of your favorite recent reads? And an all-time favorite?
Fire and Fury, the tell-all about the Trump white house is ridiculously compulsive. I also really enjoyed Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer, a science fiction novel about a strange, unexplained zone somewhere in America and the search teams who’ve disappeared there. It’s just been adapted into a film, so that should be interesting. I also loved Midwinter Break by Bernard Maclaverty, a literary novel about an older couple on a short holiday to Amsterdam. It’s sad and romantic and wonderful.
An all-time favourite? The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley. From the 70s, it feels like a new and dangerous kind of noir, and was a big inspiration for me in writing crime.