Ray Banks im Interview mit Len Wanner

Ray Banks wurde 1977 im schottischen Kirkcaldy geboren, wuchs zur Zeit der Mienenstreiks auf und schlug sich als Doppelglasverkäufer, Croupier und Hochzeitssänger durch. Er schreibt nicht über Good Guys oder Bad Guys, sondern über beschädigte Menschen. Heute lebt er als Autor mit seiner Familie in Edinburgh und behauptet von sich, dass er lieber schreibt, statt ein Schriftsteller zu sein.


When was the last time you did a face-to-face interview?

The last time I did a face-to-face interview was for a local newspaper. Thanks for bringing it up. I didn’t say anything too personal, but it was still uncomfortable to pick up the paper and see a picture of this puffy-faced fool wittering on like he was King Shit. That’s when I decided I didn’t want to do anything remotely like it ever again, and I’ve done a pretty good job of it until now.

So what are your hopes going into this interview?

That I don’t look like a colossal twat. That’s my main hope, to the point that my missus was saying: “It’s okay. You’ve read his other interviews. You’ve done your preparation. You’ll be fine.”

What record are we competing with?

Well, when I first started out, I had a touch of the punk about me, as well as the ego. I remember being less than generous about Ian Rankin’s books because he represented the enemy. He was Mr Bestseller, a figurehead for the immensely popular police procedural. Then I met him and found out that he’s a lovely bloke, and a fine writer, while I was an idiot and felt bad for kicking off. When you first start out, you’re just so happy someone appears to care about what you’re saying, you end up trying to be controversial or contrary or entertaining, and you always end up regretting it. Me, I should’ve been walled up the first five years of publication. You have to guard what you say… Ha! This is going to be the ultimate fucking irony.

Is it fair to say you’re not a fan of publicity?

Yeah, I’d much rather write than be a writer. For the most part, being known as a writer isn’t something I’m comfortable with. Outside of my wife and a few friends, I don’t talk about the books at all. The last three day jobs I’ve had, I’ve kept that part of my life under wraps. People can act a bit weird when they find out you write, especially if they’re not big readers, and if I’m honest, it’s not worth it. I’d rather not be a dancing bear. It seems so ungrateful to say it, because every time you have a book out you’re very grateful for the opportunity to give it some exposure, but answering the same questions over and over again can get tiring. Your artistic self flounces off while your commercial self gets down to being as entertaining as possible.

Can your artistic self tell me about your expectations and experiences of writing a series?

Well, I didn’t know it was going to become a series. Saturday’s Child got picked up for a two-book deal, so I had to write a sequel, which got me thinking about series fiction properly. I decided it was going to be a short one, because long series demand a lot of publisher support which as a new author I didn’t have. Besides, given my subject matter and amount of swearing, I knew I wasn’t playing into the mainstream, and I didn’t want to get tied to a single character right from the get-go.

Saturday’s Child is the result of me loving American PI fiction – Hammett, Crumley, Ross Macdonald, and the early Pelecanos – whilst getting hacked off with its British counterpart. British writers were basically slapping Chandler’s Marlowe into English cities, which was alright for the early stages of bringing the sub-genre over here, but it hadn’t moved on from that when I started. It was still a pastiche of untarnished, unafraid men walking down mean streets. That’s an American myth, not a British one. It’s a winner’s myth, and it didn’t fit my experience of the British vernacular, which was: “You are going to fail.” Winners are suspect in Britain. We begrudge people their success and we’re suspicious of gloss, or at least we used to be.

Growing up, I was a big fan of all the gritty television that came my way and I became a huge theatre geek, so I married all that Leigh, Clarke, and Loach stuff with the likes of Howard Brenton and John Arden, and then tumbled it into the whole American crime fiction thing. I’d tried to write literary fiction, but it never held my attention. The stuff I read and wrote seemed kind of plotless, kind of dull, a little too concerned with language over character and story. So I came to the conclusion that I needed a genre to hang my hat on, so to speak. And so the idea behind Cal Innes was Ken Loach or Shane Meadows directing a PI movie. I wanted an unlicensed PI who was neither a hero nor particularly good at his job. I wanted to strike through all those Chandlerisms, because I didn’t think that Philip Marlowe could exist in real life.