Thomas Mogford is the author of Cabinet Reshuffle. Thomas has worked as a journalist for Time Out and as a translator for the European Parliament. His first novels in the Spike Sanguinetti series, Shadow of the Rock, Sign of the Cross and Hollow Mountain, were published by Bloomsbury in 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively, to critical acclaim. He was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger Award for best new crime writer of 2013. His new novel, Sleeping Dogs, will be published by Bloomsbury in April 2015. Thomas Mogford is married and lives with his family in London.
Author Q & A
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this story?
The story originally started life as a prologue to the new Spike Sanguinetti novel, ‘Sleeping Dogs’ (out in April 2015). Spike is a lawyer based in Gibraltar, but the books give him licence to roam around the Mediterranean, and in his fourth outing, he goes to Corfu. My hope was that the events described in this story would resurface years later, leading to a murder case in which Spike would find himself professionally involved. I know Corfu well, having been there on holiday most years since I was a child; however, my wife and I went to Albania on a research trip (it’s just 2km across the water from Corfu) and found the country so riveting that the plot had to change to incorporate it. So the prologue was scrapped, and received a new lease of life as a short story…
When did you start writing?
I’ve written short stories since I was a child, but I only dared to attempt a novel after university when a friend and I decided to set ourselves the challenge. My friend had his first novel published quite quickly; it took me another 5 years to get ‘Shadow of the Rock’ off the ground.
Do you have a favourite genre?
I read a lot of crime, but anything that’s well written with a pacy plot does it for me.
What’s your favourite book or short story?
The book that has affected me most is ‘If This Is A Man’ by Primo Levi; my favourite short story is ‘The Care and Attention of Swimming Pools’ by William Boyd.
What has been your biggest challenge as a writer?
Getting people to say ‘Yes’ rather ‘I’d love to say yes, but…’
Can you tell us about the journey to publishing your first book?
I wrote a crime caper about a Gibraltarian lawyer; people enjoyed the crime more than the comedy, so I started again with a new plot and more serious tone. ‘Shadow of the Rock’ (Bloomsbury, 2012) was the result.
Do you have any advice for authors looking to get published?
Make sure you enjoy writing, because a lot of the time you may be doing it without reward or praise. Don’t give up, and try to find someone you trust and admire to give you ruthless feedback about your work. My wife does that for me (deep-down I always want her to say, ‘It’s perfect, you’re the new Nabokov’ – never underestimate the vanity of writers…)
What do you most enjoy about writing?
Losing myself as a scene unspools on the page.
Is the process of writing a short story different to writing a full length novel?
I used to think short stories needed careful planning, and novels would just work themselves out. Now I’m starting to think they both need the same intensity of planning, it’s just the novel takes longer…
‘Hollow Mountain’ (Bloomsbury, 2014) was selected as one of the Guardian’s ‘Summer Books’ of 2014 and is out now.