Andrew Klavan is an award-winning author, screenwriter and podcast host, known for his internationally best-selling books, such as True Crime and Don’t Say a Word – both of which went on to be adapted into films, staring Client Eastwood and Michael Douglas respectively. Andrew has also been nominated for the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award an amazing five times, and has actually taken home the award twice. Andrew Klavan is also a contributing editor to City Journal, the magazine of the Manhattan Institute, and has had his essays appear in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The LA Times. Andrew Klavan is also the host of the popular podcast, The Andrew Klavan Show, where he puts his quick wit to use whilst discussing politics and entertainment. It was a privilege to talk books with Andrew, he has achieved huge success in his career. Please enjoy my interview with Andrew Klavan…
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
I say I’m a writer.
What are you reading at the moment?
I am currently reading Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich.
Not sure. I particularly remember reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens when I was still little. I begged my mother to get it for me because I loved the movie. I was so proud of having read it, and so disappointed when I realised it was abridged!
If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be?
Depends how young. When I was a kid, I loved the Greek myths, and they are foundational stories, so maybe those.
Can you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I remember writing a mystery/adventure story starring me and my friends when I was about twelve.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
The worst job I’ve ever had was being a busboy in a train station diner.
What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring writer?
My advice would be to read the classics and get a workbook that will teach you impeccable grammar.
Do you read as much as you’d like to?
I’m a slow reader, so I would say I read as much as I can, about a book a week.
What books do you feel are important reading for people on your career path?
You should know the King James Bible and Shakespeare well. All our ideas come from them and much of our language. If you are a product of western culture and haven’t read them, you don’t know who you are or where you come from or why you think what you think.
Many. I go back to Shakespeare and the Bible all the time for the reasons stated above. I’ve read Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky several times because it had such a huge impact on me. The older I get, the more I reread books I love.
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
Really depends on who they are and what I think they’d like. For history buffs, From Dawn to Decadence by Jaques Barzun. For recent fiction, probably The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. For great old fiction, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
Who would you say are the three writers that continue to inspire you?
Shakespeare, John Keats and Dostoyevsky
What’s your favourite genre of book?
I like strongly plotted literary fiction – Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin books, say — and books that bring a brilliant idea to a good subject — like From Dawn to Decadence by Jaques Barzun or The Correspondent Breeze: Essays on English Romanticism by M.H. Abrams, or The Weight of Glory or The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis.
What do you think a world without books would be like?
Incredibly lonely. You could only communicate with living people. It would be a very limited existence.
Is there an author whose writing you’re such a fan of, that you’ll read everything they release?
Not right now. I’m likely to pick up Tom Wolfe’s latest or Donna Tartt’s. When Patrick O’Brian was still alive, I practically camped out at the bookstore waiting.
Do you think digital books will ever completely replace real books?
Maybe not completely, but close. I love real books, but it’s the words that matter, and digital is easier to carry around and annotate.
What book do you feel humanity needs most right now?
I think westerners need to relearn their foundational culture — Homer, Plato, Ovid, the Bible, Shakespeare, etc. — without professors putting their theories in the way.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life?
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It rescued me from relativism and thus from the age.
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
I’ll probably be reading a lot about the English Romantics next year.
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
I did write one actually. It’s called The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ.