My favourite writer, alive or dead, is the late English novelist Derek Marlowe. I love his prose style, with its long, lyrical sentences, and pervasive air of melancholy. He flitted from genre to genre, writing thrillers, a spy novel, a detective story, a tale of voodoo, and in every one he maintained this beautiful style. I think that, although his first novel, A Dandy in Aspic, was a bestseller, he never achieved the huge success he deserved precisely for this reason, his restless flirting with different genres. My favourite living writer is the American novelist Steve Erickson. He’s another writer with a beautiful prose style, but he’s very different from Marlowe. In terms of invention and imagination and the bold risks he takes with narrative, there’s no one around to touch him. Other contemporary writers whose work excites me include those I publish through Nightjar Press and/or Salt Publishing, best known among them being M John Harrison and Alison Moore. Alice Thompson’s latest novel, Burnt Island, is a brilliant and sly homage to The Shining; Kieran Devaney’s debut novel, Deaf at Spiral Park, is that rare thing, an accessible experimental novel that’s funny and touching and totally original. And David Rose’s cleverly titled Posthumous Stories (he’s alive and well) is one of the best short story collections for years.
Nicholas at Word Factory:
Nicholas Royle is the author of First Novel, as well as six earlier novels including The Director’s Cut and Antwerp, and a short story collection, Mortality. He has edited numerous anthologies including Darklands, Murmurations: An Anthology of Uncanny Stories About Birds and three volumes of The Best British Short Stories (2011–2013). A senior lecturer in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, he also runs Nightjar Press, publishing original short stories as signed, limited-edition chapbooks, and works as an editor for Salt Publishing, where he has been responsible for Alison Moore’s Man Booker-shortlisted The Lighthouse and Alice Thompson’s Burnt Island among other titles.