Ben Aaronovitch, the writer of the "Rivers of London" supernatural crime novels, Londoner #76





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Published on Apr 8, 2015

Ben Aaronovitch is the acclaimed author of the supernatural police procedural "Rivers of London" series. It wasn't always plain sailing for him though.

After some success early in his career which saw him script episodes of Doctor Who and Casualty he was soon forced to take a job at Waterstones in Covent Garden as the writing work dried up. It was here though that he decided to take matters into his own hands and began writing his own novels.

We joined him back in Covent Garden as he revisited his old work place and took part in April 2015's City Read event.


This is the Covent Garden brach of Waterstones incase you haven't had an establishing picture at the beginning of the interview. This is my Waterstones that I worked in, when I was poor. And just round the corner is the Science fiction section where I came up with the idea for Rivers of London. The idea was "Oh God, please let me write a book so I can make some money". The first book is mostly set around Covent Garden. I essentially set it within walking distance of where I worked so on lunch hours I could go out look at the buildings and I could work out where the chases were and everything like that. And the story took me to burning down Covent Garden which was hilarious. Sometimes you have to go to the places that the story says that you're going to go to You can't fight the story. And it's quite fun because now I imagine that the Genius Bar were established in the rebuilding phase after it was burned down. That's why all the shops were changed and everything. Cityread is like another one which has attempted to get people to go to their libraries and read books which is, I think, a very laudable thing. Libraries are very very important and we will really really miss them if we lose them. Me and Ben Bailey Smith, otherwise known as Doc Brown are going to cluster round with a real Mark II Jaguar and give away copies of my books because my publisher feels that it's a year without sunshine if they haven't given away one of my books for free. From Ben to Josh. For some reason when you're a Londoner, they always ask you, 'Why do you write about London?', like you should possibly, despite the fact that you grew up there and know loads about London and nothing about Birmingham, set your books in Birmingham instead. People don't really believe in native born Londoners. If you look at all the great London novels, a lot of have been written by non-Londoners. And they tend to think of Londoners like single aspect. It's like this big film screen upon which they project their hopes and fears and nightmares. Whereas if you're a Londoner it's actually where you live, it's where you're from. And that's a slightly different relationship. If you're a Londoner, London is your home town so it's not like somewhere you went because it's exciting and to further your career, it's where your first film, it's where your cinema was, where your home and relatives were from, where your relatives live now, where your first kiss, your first school, all of these things - it's got that kind of network. It is your small town, it's just a big, small town. It just never occurred to me not to write in London. Not because I'm massively London-centric, media Hampstead type but because I'm a Londoner and can sing the second verse of 'Maybe It's Because I'm a Londoner'.


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