Ian Sansom is the author of the Mobile Library mystery series. His most recent project is the County Guides series featuring eccentric “People’s Professor” Swanton Morley and his assistant, Stephen Sefton. The books are a tongue-in-cheek nod to the golden age of crime fiction. So far they have featured Norfolk, Devon and Westmoreland. The latest book in the series is Essex Poison.
1. Who were your literary influences as you were growing up?
Honestly? I wasn’t exactly what you’d call a precocious reader. I was reading comics mostly. And then eventually it was Desmond Bagley and Hammond Innes, Dennis Wheatley - all that sort of stuff. Anything and everything that was available in our local library.
The first time I realised there was something called ‘literature’ as such was when we had to study George Eliot at school. I fell in love with George Eliot. And that was that.
2. As a librarian, I have to ask… was your character of Israel Armstrong, Jewish, vegetarian, depressive, mobile librarian based on anyone?
Ha! Madame Bovary, c’est moi.
3. Will Professor Morley be visiting Suffolk soon?
Let’s hope so - if I can persuade my publishers to stick with the series … The plan is for Morley & Co. to visit all of the historic English counties. (There are 39 of them. Plus I’m dividing Yorkshire into the Ridings. And adding the bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey. And doing London separately for good measure. So that’s … a lot of books.)
4. A reader’s impression of the County Guides is they must be great fun to write. Is this a true impression?
Oh no, it’s all a terrible grind. The pain and the suffering are unbelievable.
5. Is there anything you can share with us about your latest project?
The next book in the series is set in Sussex. And then I’m heading north again.
6. Do you have a message for your readers in Suffolk Libraries?
If I have any readers in Suffolk Libraries all I can say is: thank you (editor’s note: many of Ian’s books have reservations or are out on loan!).
7. Describe yourself in three words?
Misunderstood, misunderstood, misunderstood.