Guest Post: Glen Erik Hamilton on “Friends with Words”

Hard Cold Winter, Glen Erik Hamilton’s follow-up to his highly regarded debut, Past Crimes, puts his former criminal and soldier into even a tougher spot than in the first book. In Hard Cold Winter, Hamilton’s protagonist gets involved with the murder of a prominent Seattle citizen’s son and the sister of one of his shady friends from the past. In this guest blog post he sent along, Hamilton discusses his bookshelf, and how he uses different works for different forms of inspiration. 


Friends with Words

© 2016 Glen Erik Hamilton

I have a bookshelf. Quite a few shelves, of course, but this one particular shelf is within reach of the little desk where I do most of my writing. Too easy a reach.

We’re not a procrastination, the books seem to say. Not like playing with the cat, or the horrible abyss of the internet. We’ll HELP you.

Shut up, you novels. Later. I’ve got an hour scheduled for reading later. That’s my reward for getting these pages done.

I turn back to the keyboard. Back to typing, with hands slightly shaky.

Some authors choose not to indulge in reading other fiction while they are hammering out the first draft of their latest work. A hardcore few go so far as to avoid reading at all, except between books. They fear that the phrases or plot twists or rhythms they read will somehow be replicated in their writing, and they might wind up with a pale imitation of their favorite author, or worse, a Frankensteinian mishmash of colliding styles. Better to abstain, and keep their pages pure.

That brand of austerity doesn’t work for me. I’m hardly ever between books, for one thing. Recently, I saw a quote from Lawrence Kasdan (Yes, on the internet; don’t judge me.) He said: “Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.”

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MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: THE FARM

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MysteryPeople June Pick Of The Month: The Farm by Tom Rob Smith

Everyone wishes for their parent’s retirement to be the best time of their lives: after a hard life full of work and family, we all wish that our mothers and fathers have a good time now that their responsibilities have shrunk and they have time to themselves. Daniel, the protagonist of The Farm, is no different; he is elated when his parents buy a small farm in Sweden and move there. But when his father suddenly phones Daniel to tell him is mother is ill and has been committed to an asylum after a psychotic breakdown, he immediately books a flight – only to cancel when his mother calls him and confides in him to not believe a word his father says. She tells him she will see him soon and explain the black conspiracy that has led her to trust her only son over her husband.

When I first read Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44, I was struck by the masterful plotting and well nuanced character development. This was a vibrant and intelligently written mystery set in Stalin’s Russia. Then I discovered, much to my surprise, that this was his FIRST novel! I was astounded by his talent and hungrily sought out the other books he wrote as soon as I could find them. As a trilogy, his works easily compare to the best of Martin Cruz Smith and John LeCarre, and as a fan, I have been looking forward to what this erudite author would attempt next. The Farm has been worth the wait.

Riveting and utterly impossible to put down, Smith masterfully structures most of the story as a deposition by Daniel’s Mum and the meticulous arrangement of what she experiences on the farm. The evidence she carries in her satchel lends credence to a provocative story with dark overtones. But is it the truth? Only a great storyteller could draw you down a path that is compelling and thrilling only to deliver a twist that will blow your mind!

Be aware that Smith’s writing style has evolved and so has the grace of his story development. There are layers to Daniel’s Mum’s story and even the good son may not be telling the entire truth. But this is what I want, a puzzle that challenges what the reader perceives to be the correct version of events. A book that makes you think. I want surprise and I’m sure that other fans of his work would agree. Pick up a copy of The Farm by Tom Rob Smith for yourself or as a gift for someone you love.You’ll find that, like me, you’ll read it cover to cover and reread it again, then look forward to whatever Smith may write next.


The Farm by Tom Rob Smith is now available on our shelves or via bookpeople.com