He’s a Cliche: Christopher Nosnibor Talks with Bill Thunder

So we’re on the eve of the publication of Bill Thunder’s debut novel, the hard-hitting detective story ‘THE BASTARDIZER’ and it’s a book I for one am quite excited about, not least of all because it’s one of the craziest takes on genre fiction I’ve ever read. Bill’s a busy man, but he’d agreed to see me for half an hour, suggesting I swing by his office. An hour before I’m due to arrive, I receive d a call suggesting a change of location. Things have been kicking off – it’s an everyday occurrence in Bill’s life – and he needs to escape and perhaps lie low for a few hours. He suggests a bar that’s fairly quiet and off the beaten track.

When I arrive, Bill’s already there. He’s like one of his own characters. His face shows he’s lived – you’d probably describe him as ‘ruggedly handsome’ as long as you don’t mind three-day stubble and eyebags. He sends me to the bar to get the drinks before we start. He’s drinking Jack Daniel’s – doubles, straight, no ice – and is already on this second when I show up. Yes, he’s a hard bastard and he can handle his drink. He is, as he writes in his book, ‘a cliché.’ And all the cooler because of it.

I put the drinks down and begin my interrogation.

CN: So what inspired ‘THE BASTARDIZER’?

BT: Inspired? I wouldn’t say ‘inspired.’ It kinda implies it’s fictive.

CN: Prompted?

BT: Better. I had some downtime. I thought I’d try my hand at writing. Drawing from my experience in some ways made it something of a busman’s holiday in some respects, but crime fiction’s big right now and so much of what’s out there’s really insipid. I thought ‘I could do better than that.’ So I did.

CN: That’s a hell of a claim, but I can’t really argue. It’s a belter of a book. Which current crime writers do you particularly object to, do you consider to be the worst offenders in the production of insipid crime writing?

BT: Most of them, frankly. Despite my line of work, I enjoy a good detective novel. Trouble is, there aren’t many about. More accurately, there aren’t many recent examples of good crime fiction about. Tess Gerritsen’s fucking awful. Lee Child’s gash. They’re terribly written and really, really far too long.

CN: There’s certainly a fashion for longer books these days, and I can’t see an obvious reason for it myself. I mean, in that people have less spare time and have short attention spans. They’re downsizing everything or even dropping physical formats in many other areas – music, for example. Minimalism’s hip again. I can’t believe that publishers are truly trying to push the idea that a huge books represents ‘value for money.’ What’s more, most of my favourite books are shorter, certainly under 300 pages. That short sharp shock…

BT: Yeah. They’re all putting out these doorstop books, 500 pages plus. Even kids books! I mean, J. K. Rowling…

CN: Don’t start me….

BT: Ok. But I think economics is definitely a factor. Not necessarily value for money per se, but publishers aren’t willing to spend the money employing editors who’ll be strict and insist authors cut their manuscripts down. And most writers tend to waffle. Writing something short and punchy takes discipline.

CN: I saw your manuscript in draft stages, and whatever work was required, length was never an issue. Would you say you have discipline?

BT: Hell yeah!

CN: How long did it take for you to write the book?

BT: Well, I had the idea a fair while ago, but was far too busy. When I set myself the task of actually getting it all down, it took six weeks from start to finish. There were a couple of weeks spent on each round of edits, but not much. Ten weeks in all.

CN: The great pulp authors used to churn them out at a phenomenal rate…

BT: True. In that sense, I guess you could call me a method writer. As I said, I can’t abide the current crop of crime authors and much prefer the older ones – Spillane, Chandler, McBain, they really could knock ‘em out. And the speed of writing in many ways dictated the style, they’re intrinsically linked.

CN: So it’s fair to say that on this basis you’re not wholly averse to genre fiction?

BT: It is. Learning the formula does require some degree of skill. It’s also necessary to learn the formula in order to fuck with it.

CN: And you fuck with it royally in ‘THE BASTARDIZER.’

BT: Kind of you to say so. I do, it’s true.

CN: Would you care to talk me through that?

BT: Not a lot to say. It’s clinical. It’s brutal. It’s life. It’s postmodern, post-CSI crime fiction. With an absurd plot-twist.

CN: About that…?

BT: Some readers will no doubt hate it. But it serves several purposes. One, I had to wrap the book up, and fast. Two, I’m merging fact and fiction throughout the book. Sometimes it’s blatant, sometimes it’s more subtle. But I wanted to really bring that to the fore in the finale. Third, a lot of the current crop present their crime fiction as being somehow ‘realist,’ then completely lose it in the final twist. I mean, Gerritsen’s ‘Body Double.’ Who the fuck’s gonna buy that ending? But the reviews all go on about how it’s a tense thriller, rather than a tense thriller (it isn’t, it’s flabbily written and would have worked better without the romance chick-lit shit in, thus cutting about a hundred and fifty pages) with a wanky and unbelievable ending. I wanted to take the piss out of that by coming up with an even more far-fetched ending. Finally, there’s a lot of great crime fiction with ridiculously far-fetched endings. Spillane’s ‘The Body Lovers’ is a favourite example of mine.

CN: The elements of fact and fiction, as you say, do blur, but there are points where there are a lot of ‘factual’ elements that might appear fictive.

BT: That was the plan. It’s true: truth is stranger than fiction. All the medical stuff, that’s based on fact. Again, people have got accustomed to technical elements following CSI and all that sort of thing. Obviously, I’m taking it to the next level.

CN: And the Michael Jackson stuff..?

BT: Fact. The Michael Jackson character wasn’t called Michael Jackson at first. I changed the name a few days before he croaked. I considered changing it again but decided against it. So I started researching the phenomenon, the near-exponential rise in Google hits immediately after his death. That’s all fact, and my own research. It was too good to waste.

CN: Are you worried that it may provoke controversy?

BT: No. Controversy’s good for sales, isn’t t?

‘THE BASTARDIZER’ by Bill Thunder is out on 17th August on Clinicality Press as a Clinicality Press Pocket Edition priced £4.99

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk.


2 thoughts on “He’s a Cliche: Christopher Nosnibor Talks with Bill Thunder

  1. I saw the yellow alert warning and ignored it I really am that brave, does that mamke me brave and stoopid enough to read the book, well as long as it won\’t make me chunder I\’ll order it next week!!Simon.

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