Not content with being a best-selling, much acclaimed crime writer, Chicago-based Libby Fischer Hellmann has always hankered after being a radio DJ, and this year her long-time dream has come true. She's hosting a monthly live internet radio show called 'Second Sunday Crime'.
I was delighted to be Libby's guest for her show on Sunday evening February 8th, when we chatted about the world of crime . . . er, crime writing, that is!
On Wednesday, June 2nd 2010, fifty-two-year-old taxi driver, Derrick Bird, walked out of his cottage in the tiny Cumbrian village of Rowrah, with a shotgun and a rifle, and climbed into his car. Three hours later, he had shot and injured 11 people, killed 12 more and finally killed himself.
The BBC approached ZoŽ for her personal reflections on the tragedy, from a writerís perspective in general, and a crime writerís perspective in particular. The BBC News website carried the item in full:
Bird 'not archetypal monster' found in crime novels
"Recent events in Cumbria have propelled my home county into unwelcome prominence once again. No sooner has the trauma faded from a fatal coach crash that cost the lives of two teenagers − and, before that, severe flooding in which a policeman was swept away − than disaster has visited once more."
ZoŽ broadcast her piece on BBC Radio 4's The World At One on June 4th 2010 and it was also aired on the BBC World Service. Left-click to listen to the broadcast now − or right-click and choose "Save Target As . . ." to download the mp3 file.
Sarah Walters runs OutLoud, a literary podcast from the pre-eminent UK regional newspaper, the Yorkshire Post. During the 2008 Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, she recorded an interview with ZoŽ, which she introduced as follows (Yorkshire Post, 26 August 2008):
"When ZoŽ Sharp realised that there wasn't an action heroine that she could identify with in the books she loved to read, it was hardly surprising she then decided to have a go at writing her own.
"What was a surprise, however − at least to her − was the international reaction to Charlie Fox, now one of the top characters in crime fiction.
"The bodyguard with the special forces background is more than able to give as good as she gets, without becoming what Sharp describes as "a man in tights".
"In this OutLoud interview, Sharp discusses women in crime fiction, the origins of Charlie Fox and just how far she can push her, and gives a reading from her latest thriller, THIRD STRIKE."
Kim Alexander is a self-confessed book freak who enjoys a non-stop love affair with the written word. She runs Fiction Nation, a regular feature on XM Radio, a coast-to-coast US satellite radio service with some nineteen million subscribers.
One of her pet hates, she declares, is when a main character in a book or film gets seriously injured and then miraculously springs back into action with one mighty bound. She was therefore intrigued when she read SECOND SHOT and found Charlie Fox face down in a muddy ditch, shot twice and left for dead. And that was on the first page. ĎAnd she doesnít leap up and save the day. Charlie has a long, painful and realistic recovery, giving her lots of time to ponder not being as tough as she thought.'
In this wide-ranging interview, Kim reads her own written review of SECOND SHOT and then discusses Charlie Foxís complex character, how she can kill without compunction to defend the person she is bodyguarding but then wrestles with her conscience and ponders whether she is living her life the right way. Kim comments that Ďit was Charlie and the crossroads at which she finds herself that makes this book really stand out.í
During the interview, ZoŽ reads the beginning of Chapter One of SECOND SHOT, hailed as a classic example of how to introduce a mystery novel: 'Take it from me, getting yourself shot hurts like hell.'
Libby Fischer Hellmann asks: How did you come to write mysteries? Is Charlie Fox really ZoŽ Sharp? Does the day job help with your writing? What authors do you read? What's the next book in the series? These are just some of the topics covered in this wide-ranging interview.
Based in Chicago, Libby is herself a successful crime writer, creator of amateur sleuth Ellie Foreman. She is also an experienced interviewer, having spent eight years in television news in her previous career. This interview, on behalf of International Thriller Writers, was recorded on a transatlantic link to ZoŽ's UK home in August 2006.
David Hewson quizzes ZoŽ about why she set her FIRST DROP Charlie Fox book in Florida and how she, a British writer,strives for authenticity when placing her characters in another country. She reveals her plans for the next book in the series, SECOND SHOT, based in Boston and New Hampshire, which also features Charlie Fox and is due for publication by St Martin's Press in 2007.
David Hewson is a successful British author, creator of the best-selling Nic Costa crime series set in Rome. He recorded this interview at the Left Coast Crime convention in Bristol, UK, in March 2006.