An Interview with Will Carver by Stephen J. Golds

Punk Noir Magazine

Every so often you’ll pick up a novel, start reading the words on the page in front of you and nod because you’ll know you’ve just found another favorite author.

I felt this way when I picked up Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver.

Carver does something that very few authors have been able to accomplish with such commercial success. He brings a raw, I don’t give a fuck what you think attitude to his writing.

It’s gallows humor, it’s a cynical eye cast over modern society, it’s poetic, it’s honest to God real writing.

Very few writers make me feel envious of their literary skills but I’ll freely admit I’m envious as hell at the way Carver puts down a line. Reading his novels, I get the same thrills I get watching boxers like Crawford, Canelo, and Spence putting combos of punches together and hitting without being hit. Leaving me thinking ‘how the hell did he do that?”

I have to say, I believe Will Carver is one of the best writers working in the UK in any genre today and for that reason I was overjoyed he agreed to an interview with Punk Noir Magazine .

Hey Will, thanks so much for agreeing to the interview. It’s a pleasure. To start off, can you tell our readers a little bit about how you got started in the Literature scene?

Well, it started early 2009. I’d written a book, a dark comedy called SUICIDE THURSDAY. It had gone around a few publishers, who liked the writing but the content was maybe a little too edgy. One publisher told my agent that my style would suit a crime story and they would love to read one of my crime books. I’d never written crime. I wasn’t interested in that. But I was interested in writing for a living, so I thought, ‘Hey, if a big publisher has promised they will read my crime book, I’ll write one.’ So I did. I was made redundant from a job I hated, my first baby was due at the end of the year, I had enough money to get me through two months. So I wrote a book in six weeks. It went to the publisher who wanted to see it but it was too different. It went to some others. The same thing. They liked the writing but I’d written it in a way that wasn’t really being done, at that time. I was running out of money and time but not rejections.One night, I was cooking dinner and my agent’s name flashed up on my phone screen. She usually emailed me rejections so I started shaking. Random House wanted my book and they wanted me to turn it into a series. They would pay me enough to live as a full-time writer. That was it. I’d made it. Obviously, that wasn’t the case. The first book was a big hit. The second one less so. And the third got me axed. But that’s another story.

You’re perhaps best known for your novel Nothing Important Happened Today. How did that novel come into fruition and what were your inspirations for that story?

This book was originally called NINE LIVES and was going to be the third book in that first series. I wanted a new publishing deal. Yes, the sales hadn’t been as high as for my first book, GIRL 4, but I would kill for those kinds of numbers now. Anyway, I wrote a fourth book in that series for a new deal, it was sent to the publisher and they decided to can NINE LIVES and go with the fourth book as my third. Horrible at the time but a blessing in the end because it went on to become NOTHING IMPORTANT HAPPENED TODAY, which went on to be long listed for the Glass Bell Award and Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year.In its second incarnation, I tried to take out the original detective and just replace him with my new series character. It didn’t work.But I also realised that the story I was telling was not the real story at all.I had people around me that were seemingly struggling with life, with their mental health. And, as somebody who doesn’t have those kinds of struggles, I didn’t really understand. I was probably a little quick to judge. When I friend of mine became suicidal, I decided to sit down and actually listen. And, man, I felt like such an idiot. There was so much more to it than I had imagined and I used to book to help me understand things more, force me to research. I could see so many others online who thought the way I had, who didn’t understand, and I hoped that I could write something that forced people to think about things more. There’s such a cult mentality to the way that people think and talk, I wanted to look into that psychology more. And the idea was born. What if you were enrolled in a suicide cult without even knowing that you had applied? I would write it as part novel and part instruction manual on how to set up your own cult. Seemed to work out.

What advice would you give to up and coming indie authors?

I would say that if you can do anything else, anything at all, you should do that. Because being a writer sucks. It’s just a long line of people waiting to tell you what doesn’t work and how shit you are. But if that doesn’t scare you off. If you still feel like you have something to say and you want to write, you need to write. Sit in a chair and fucking write. I don’t buy into the ‘everyone has a book in them’ philosophy. It’s hard to write an entire book and that’s why so many people don’t do it. Write for you. Say what you want to say and how you want to say it.You might not make it. You might not be any good. You could be the next Kerouac. But you won’t know if you don’t write the damned thing in the first place.

What are your plans for the future?

I’ve moved up to two books a year. Partly because one feels a bit lazy but also to increase my output a little. I had a few years after Random House let me go where I didn’t have anything published, so I’d at least like to catch up on that. The idea is to do one book in my series each year and one stand-alone, which is entirely separate. So I ventured into horror a little with my last book, THE BERESFORD, and my next book, PSYCHOPATHS ANONYMOUS, can be linked back to the series. I’m currently working on the book after that, which is going to be very difficult to pigeonhole. My publisher text me the other day when I explained the idea to her and said, ‘You do like to make things difficult for us.’ Ha! When I was younger, I always wanted to be a poet and a playwright. I’d like to branch off into other areas of writing. Film, too, if possible. But these are future dreams. Right now, I’m happy that I get to write the things I want to write.

What is an issue you care about deeply?

I am vegan. I don’t eat anything that has come from an animal: meat, milk, cheese, eggs. I don’t have anything that contains gelatine. Initially, I did this in an attempt to be healthy, to just put good things inside my body. Then you find out about the cruelty.I try not to be preachy about it because everyone has the right to eat what they want. The problem is, everyone seems to feel that they have the right to comment on veganism. And it riles me. Because the whole point about veganism is that we cause nothing any harm. So people get up-in-arms about other people, who are trying to do the right thing, who are trying to ensure that their actions do not cause pain and suffering to another living thing. It’s backward. What are you really annoyed about?I was adding softener to a wash load the other day and read the back of the bottle to find that it contained cow fat. WHY? I think the way that people can just turn a blind eye to animal cruelty has really set us up to do the same to each other. So I care about this deeply. I care that people have seemingly forgotten how to care. Because it’s harder that not caring at all.

What novel are you reading now?

Noooooo. It’ll sound like I’m sucking up. I’m currently about 80 pages into I’LL PRAY WHEN I’M DYING and I’m digging it. Great writing, of course, but I also empathise with the OCD angle. I need to see where it’s going. Before that, I read TRUE CRIME STORY by Joseph Knox. He’d written some procedural series before that, which aren’t the kind of things I ever read but this was marketed as fresh and original. I think he did a great job outside of his comfort zone and it deserves to be noticed as a writer trying to push the boundaries a little.

What music are you listening to now?

I tend to play the same kind of thing over and over while I write. For NOTHING IMPORTANT HAPPENED TODAY, I listened to Eminem’s Kamikaze album because it was so angry and I was writing angrily. For THE BERESFORD, I was an utter jazz fiend. I listened to John Martyn a lot for the last book but I currently have Elliot Smith’s Either/Or album on loop. Hauntingly beautiful.

What did you last eat?

It’s usually hummus because I live on the stuff. And it was when I started answering these questions but I have since been to the fridge and eaten pineapple out of a can with a fork. I know, I’m so rock n roll.

If you could go on a drinking binge with 5 writers alive or dead who would you choose?

Bukowski. We would drink wine and beer and end up naked and wrestling by the end of the night. Hemingway and Fitzgerald. These guys could put it away. I could easily go for a night on the Absynthe in Paris with those guys.Fran Lebowitz. She doesn’t drink, so I could drink for two and listen to her talk all night. Kevin Wignall. Because he always chooses amazing wine to match his amazing stories. And he’s a keen advocate of the dessert wine, too. Plus, he always stays up late.

What would you like written on your gravestone?

Here lies Will Carver, beloved father, partner, insatiable lover, hardcore drinker and only four-time winner of the Nobel prize for literature.

Will Carver

Will Carver is a 41-year-old writer who lives in Reading, England. He has written the Detective Inspector January David series, comprising Girl 4, The Two and Dead Set.

In 2009, he finished his debut novel – GIRL 4 – which was published by Random House, with the book being released in May 2011. His second thriller novel, THE TWO, was published a year later with the third book in the JANUARY DAVID series, DEAD SET, following in 2013. (A digital novella was also published between the second and third book – THE KILLER INSIDE – and remains free to download.)

In 2018, Carver returned with the first book in the series featuring Detective Sergeant Pace, a dark, domestic noir, GOOD SAMARITANS, published by Orenda Books. It went on to become a book of the year in The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Express. It was also longlisted for the Not The Booker Prize and shortlisted for the inaugural Amazon Publishing Awards’ Best Independent Voice.

Following the success of GOOD SAMARITANS, Carver released NOTHING IMPORTANT HAPPENED TODAY, about an invisible suicide cult where nobody knows they are a member until it is too late. The novel was longlisted for the Goldboro Books Glass Bell Award as well as the prestigious Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Novel Of The Year Award.

2020 saw the publication of HINTON HOLLOW DEATH TRIP, the third book in the Detective Pace series, where the narrator of the story is Evil itself. In 2021, Carver is set to have two novels published. The first – THE BERESFORD – a stand-alone novel that dips its toe into horror, and PSYCHOPATHS ANONYMOUS, which forms part of the series while also standing on its own.

Stephen J. Golds

Stephen J. Golds was born in North London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life.

He writes primarily in the noir and dirty realism genres and is the co-editor of Punk Noir Magazine.

He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling the world, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His books are Say Goodbye When I’m Gone, I’ll Pray When I’m Dying, Always the Dead, Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once, Cut-throat & Tongue-tied, Bullet Riddled & Gun Shy and the story and poetry collection Love Like Bleeding Out With an Empty Gun in Your Hand.