Interview de Paul Cleave : The cleaner (VO)

Paul CleavePaul, could you tell us about your childhood ?
I had a really good childhood – cool parents, grew up in a nice street. Many of my friends in my life I’ve had since I was a kid – which is really fantastic. From a young age I’ve always wanted to be a writer – I wrote lots of short stories at school.

How did you get the idea to write thrillers ?
I’d always wanted to write a horror. I love reading horror. I started writing when I was 19, and I was trying to write horror novels because that was all I read. Then five years later I started reading these books written by an FBI profiler who wrote about serial killers, and I realised that was far more scary that horror – and that’s why I started writing about serial killers.

All your books take place in Christchurch, what is the reason ? Will you continue for your next books ?
The books are set in Christchurch because that’s my home city. It’s easy for me to describe, I know how long it takes characters to get from A to B, and it’s different because there are no other crime novels set in Christchurch.

Could you please tell us about Joe Middleton, for people who haven’t read your book yet ?
Joe Middleton is the main character in A model employee. He’s a janitor at the police department, and he’s also a serial killer. He has a crazy mother, a couple of pet goldfish, no friends, and he lives in a tiny apartment that is very miserable. He enjoys killing women.

What is a good thriller to you ?
A good thriller is one where there is always something exciting happening. It isn’t about the police investigating a murder, and all the procedural stuff that goes with it, it’s a book that keeps moving and makes you want to keep turning the pages. You want to feel involved with the characters. When I write, I want to pull you into my world where you can visualise all that is going on, and you can really feel for the characters.

The cleanerHow are thrillers considered in New Zealand ? Are there other authors from your country who write thrillers ? If not, for what reasons ?
There are a lot of great writers from smaller countries around the world, and it’s great because in the past it’s always seemed to be US and UK crime fiction. It doesn’t matter where you’re from now, if you can tell a good story, other people around the world may get the opportunity to read it, like Jo Nesbo for example.

Could you tell us about your second book which will come out next October in France ?
Blood Men is about a man who has grown up in the shadow of his serial killer father, who he has not seen in twenty years. When his wife is killed in a bank robbery, he goes to his father (who is in jail) for help. He wants revenge on the men who hurt his family.

Is there any international subject which make you angry ?
Probably petrol prices – I can’t believe how much they keep climbing !

What’s your favourite thriller’s writter ?
John Connolly. And Michael Connelly too.

The question of the « Concierge masqué » : what are your habits when you write ? (in the evening ? in the morning ? sitting at your desk ?)
I write on and off during the day. I have an office at home which gets a lot of sun, I sit in there and try to write five or six hours a day. I turn up the stereo and listen to music, and my cats will often come in and join me.

What are your favourite band and your favourite song ?
That’s tough – I go through phases of who I love to listen to. At the moment my favourite is probably Arcade Fire, The Killers, and Band of Horses, but often I’ll listen to Pink Floyd or The Rolling Stones – there are plenty of bands that I love.

What did you enjoy during your stay in France ?
I only stayed in Paris for a week – but I loved it. It has to be one of my favourite cities I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to come back.

Is that correct that you needed 12 years to read your first book ? And for what reason ?
No, the first novel only took me a few months to finish – and it took five or six years to find a publisher. The Cleaner only came out in France last year, but it actually came out in New Zealand in 2006.