Crime writer Mike Nicol, whose new book is just out, will be at the Franschhoek Literary Festival (13-15 May). The author of 24 books, his thrillers are published in the UK and US as well as South Africa, and have been translated into several languages. Hammerman: Walking Shadow (Umuzi) is, he says, the last book in his series of five featuring private eye Fish Pescado and former Spy Vicki Kahn. He spoke to Jennifer Crocker.
You started out as a journalist and now you have a large number of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry books behind you. What made you flick the switch?
Actually, my writing career started with poetry during my teens. Everything I submitted to magazines such as English Alive was rejected, which might be why I continued writing poetry. There is nothing like rejection to make you say, “Sod you. I’ll get published.” My next move was into journalism, and being a journalist was the best thing that could have happened – it opened the world (and those parts of South Africa that were hidden by apartheid). Also, I got to meet and interview a variety of people and that is invaluable for anyone hoping to also write fiction. The fiction was not so much a switch from journalism as something I’d always intended to do in parallel.