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Bookmarked Blog

Don Winslow has been described as ‘America’s greatest living crime writer’ and his latest novel City on Fire certainly supports that statement. For Crime Month at Dymocks we asked Don all about this start to an epic new series.

Read on and you will also discover some recommendations from Don – a guaranteed way to put the best on your reading list.

Your new book City on Fire has been described as The Iliad meets The Godfather. What was the inspiration behind this book and what classics influenced the way you wrote the novel?

DW: When I read The Iliad, I was stuck by the parallels between its stories, characters and themes and real-life crime events that I had known as a kid.  All the great themes of our crime genre were already there by the time the Greeks and Romans finished, and I wanted to see if I could meld them into a fully contemporary crime novel.  Others of those works included The Odyssey, The Aeneid and Greek tragic dramas.

City on Fire

City on Fire is the first book in an already completed trilogy. What made you decided to write all three books up front? Did this change the way you usually write your novels?

DW: It was a change. Unlike my other books, I always knew this was going to be trilogy because the life of its protagonist, Danny Ryan, fell into three distinct and dramatically complete phases. So from the very first sentence, which I wrote twenty-seven years ago – I was always looking at the long haul.  I knew that seemingly minor incidents in the first book would have tremendous impact on the third. That was challenging. 

Your crime novels have looked at many aspects of crime from The War on Drugs to Police Corruption to Organized Crime. What role do you think a crime writer plays in dealing with these topics and how do you balance being entertaining with being informative and even critical?

DW: I think that the only responsibility that a crime writer – any fiction writer, actually – has is to write well.  Agatha Christie and A. Conan Doyle, for instance, didn’t (intentionally, anyway) inform us about social realities, and yet their works are deservedly classics. Having said that, the subject matters of modern crime fictions often give us the opportunity to address social issues – such as drugs, in my case.  I’m a storyteller first – I want to tell good tales with strong characters.  That’s job number-one.  But if I can do that while simultaneously informing the reader, sure, I want to do that.

Don Winslow
Don Winslow

You have announced that this trilogy will be the last books you write and publish. Which was the book you wrote that you are the most proud of?

DW: That’s a tough one – I’m proud of all of them. I suppose you always have a certain affection for your first book – A Cool Breeze on the Underground, in my case – because it was your first.  I’m proud of The Power of the Dog, The Cartel and The Border because they were so hard to research and write, and took twenty-three years of my life. Then there’s the City On Fire trilogy, because I’ve been working on it – on and off – for almost three decades and it’s close to my heart.

You are also a huge champion of other writers. What authors should Dymocks Booklovers have in their TBR piles alongside your latest novel?

DW: Thanks for asking that. There’s so much talent out there. I’d recommend:

TJ Newman (Falling)

Adrian McKinty (The Island)

Steve Cavanagh (The Devil’s Advocate)

Dervla McTiernan (The Murder Rule)

City on Fire is available online and at your local Dymocks store.

City on Fire
Don Winslow

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