John Williams and Derek Raymond
John Williams (from Wales) is the author of the novels Cardiff Dead , The Prince of Wales, and Temperance Town; the short story collection Five Pubs, Two Bars, and a Nightclub; and the travelogue Into The Badlands (which, as of this writing is out of pirnt, but copies are available directly from Mr. Williams). John is also the literary executor of cult crime author Derek Raymond.
I caught up with Mr. Williams via email for a brief interview:
How did you come to be Derek Raymond's literary executor?
I was a friend of Robin/Derek's in his last years, and when he was diagnosed with cancer he came to live with me and my family for a while. During that time he asked me to be his literary executor, something I was honoured to agree to.
Mr. Rayomnd's "Factory" series has received quite a bit of acclaim from the British and European mystery communities, but it also seems to hold a lot of appeal for writers such as Warren Ellis, James Sallis, and our host, Jeff VanderMeer - writers who are right on the border of genre. Would you care to speculate as to why the work holds such an appeal for people working at the edges?
Perhaps because Raymond himself was not coming from a crime writing background but instead, having written several straight novels, he found that noir - in particular the detective novel - provided the ideal framework to discuss the maters that preoccupied him - death and the existence of evil in particular.
I've heard rumblings that the "Factory" novels may be reissued? Can you confirm or deny? If so, would it be just in the U.K. or will us North Americans be able to get our hands on copies? Is his autobiography, "The Hidden Files", also up for reissue?
Yes I think it is safe to announce that Serpent's Tail will be reissuing the first four 'Factory' Novels - "He Died With His Eyes Open", "The Devil's Home On Leave", "How The Dead Live", and "I Was Dora Suarez" - starting in early 2006. They will be available in both UK and US. As for "The Hidden Files" it's a possibility but not definite
Your own first book "Into The Badlands" was a travelogue in which you hit the U.S. to track down and interview your favourite crime writers. If a sequel was in the offing, where would you go and who would you chase?
Writers who didn't make the book, or emerged after it was published, that Iwould like to have included? Off the top of my head - Daniel Woodrell, Walter Mosley, George Pelecanos, Vicki Hendricks, James Sallis, Scott Phillips, and Ken Nunn.
Where would you suggest readers start with your own fiction?
My favourite of my novels is "Cardiff Dead" - a rock 'n' roll coming of age novel cum contemporary Welsh surf noir picaresque. On the other hand, a more original work (and a funnier one) is probably the first of my Cardiff books - "Five Pubs, Two Bars And A Nightclub". Both titles should be available from US remainder merchants round about now.
*For those who can read Italian, I recently found this interview with Derek Raymond