Tom Hanks poised to bring novels of Wimbledon author Philip Kerr to small screen

Your Local Guardian: Philip Kerr Philip Kerr

Some of the country's best known authors will descend on the town for Wimbledon Bookfest 2013.

Lauren May caught up with Scottish writer and Wimbledon resident Philip Kerr ahead of his appearance.

Lauren May:You wrote your first Bernie Gunther Novel in 1989. Why do you think the series and its characters have stood the test of time?

Philip Kerr: Keep buggering on. That’s what Churchill used to say. It’s a useful motto for any writer. I think the series has stood the test of time because I have. Ask me the same question in fifty years.

LM: You live in Wimbledon. Are you looking forward to performing at one of its biggest festivals? What do you love about the town?

PK: I have lived in Wimbledon village for twenty years.

I love the green space, the clean air; it feels like Hampstead did thirty years ago.

It’s interesting you ask about ‘performing’.

I’m a writer and performance is very far from what any of us imagined we would be doing when we became writers.

But increasingly that’s what the job entails.

LM: HBO and Tom Hanks are currently in talks to acquire your series of Bernie Gunther Novels to create a ‘Berlin Noir’ TV series. How do you feel about a Hollywood star taking on your series?

PK: Hanks is the executive producer and not the star.

He came to my house in Wimbledon for dinner last summer.

I am very happy about his involvement, obviously.

We are the same height and approximately the same age.

We stood in front of each other and laughed about the similarity.

But he is louder than me; and much nicer.

LM: Tell me a little bit about your latest novel A Man Without Breath. What can people expect from it?

PK: It’s a novel about a detective called Bernie Gunther set against the background of the discovery by the Wehrmacht of the Katyn Forest massacre in 1943.

I think people can expect a lively historical and political novel that might tell them a few things they don’t already know.

LM: How do you approach writing a novel? Do you have any habits or requirements when starting to write? (Do you need to be in a particular place, drink a lot of coffee or play certain music for example?) PK: I have an office in the basement of my house.

But frankly I can write anywhere.

I have a standing desk, like Hemingway and Erasmus.

Increasingly I prefer to stand when working.

It helps to keep me fit.

I never play music when I’m writing.

Most music is a nuisance and a distraction.

There’s far too much of it about LM: Who are your literary heroes and who has been your biggest influence?

PK: Literary heroes are too many to mention.

And no one has influenced me more than my mother who taught me to read and encouraged a love of books.

I miss her.

If I was to pick out one writer I love to go back to he would be F .Scott Fitzgerald.

LM: What has been your biggest career challenge to date?

PK: Getting sacked from my first advertising agency in 1982.

Nearly getting sacked from my second advertising agency in 1983.

Generally, working in advertising.

LM: What are the top three things on your ‘bucket list’.

PK: I should like to improve my French.

I should like to have a suit made in Savile Row.

And I should like to host a really good party.

LM: What do you have planned next? What are your career ambitions?

PK: I should like to keep being published which means I must keep writing novels.

But I’d like to do more script work.

I think that’s all any writer can ask for.

Philip Kerr will be appearing at Wimbledon BookFest, 7pm on Tuesday 8 October.

Tickets are £10. Kerr's next book, Prayer, is out on September 26.

 

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