Interview with Robert Goddard

I am very glad to welcome the English suspense author Robert Goddard to this interview for

How come you write suspense novels? Where, when and how did it start?

I  guess I write suspense because that’s the kind of book I always enjoy most as a reader. It’s the genre that comes naturally to me. I started a long time ago, in the early 1980s, partly because I was dissatisfied with so many books I read at the time and eventually decided to have a go myself.


Can you name 3 criminal or suspense authors that you admire or  have influenced you in your writing?

Arthur Conan Doyle (in the Sherlock Holmes stories) and Wilkie Collins were big influences on me. Collins’ plotting skills were particularly wonderful. I was also inspired by the more overtly literary work of John Fowles.


Long time coming takes place 1976 and 1940 during the second world war. I know it’s fiction but you are also an historian. Are there any parts of the story that are true? Did for example an Englishman sit in an Irish prison for 30 years for a crime he didn’t commit?

There are many pieces of genuine history in Long Time Coming. That period in Irish history is full of intrigue and double-dealing, making it ideal for my purposes. But no Englishman spent 30 years in prison in Ireland like Eldritch – as far as I know!


When I read the book I really loved Eldritch character but had a hard time to truly like Stephen. Do you develop different bonds to your characters?

Stephen Swan is doing his best to keep up with his roguish uncle all through the book. I became very fond of Eldritch. It’s impossible not to, I think. But Stephen is easier to identify with for me.


Do you create your characters first and build a story around them, or do you set the scene and plot first?

The story starts with an idea – in the case of Long Time Coming the art fraud. The settings follow from the historical elements in the story. Then I develop characters who I feel will carry it along and provide sympathetic points of view. Only after all that does the plot take detailed shape.


When I think of suspense novelist I always come up with male authors and hardly any women. Why do you think that is? Is this a typical male genre? And if so why? There are plenty of female criminal authors what’s so different about those two genre?

I hadn’t thought till you asked about men monopolizing suspense fiction. If true, it must reflect a difference in how men and women’s literary imagination works. I think I’ll have to leave it to others to work out the reason.


Do you have any tip of a female suspense author we should read?

Read the two novels (so far) by Donna Tartt for some great female suspense. And then there’s Daphne du Maurier, who produced some really wonderful stuff.


You’ve been to Sweden at least a couple of times. Have you read any Swedish criminal/suspense novelist and if so what do you think of them?

I’ve read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo like millions of others and been very impressed by it, although as usual when I read a novel, especially in the suspense field, I thought of all kinds of ways I’d have done it differently. This is what happens when you write. Reading is never quite the same again.


Do you watch any criminal series on TV or have any favorite suspense/thriller/criminal picture?

I watch Midsomer Murders for sheer nonsensical escapist pleasure. My favorite suspense film is probably Chinatown.


If  you could make a picture of your book Long time coming, what director and actors would you pick?

For a film of Long Time Coming, I’d probably choose Tony Scott to direct and Michael Caine to play Eldritch.


Lastly, what book are you reading right now?

I’m reading Netherland by Joseph O’Neill. Zero suspense, I’m afraid, but beautifully written.


We at Thank Robert Goddard for his time!


  1. Pingback: » Intervju med Robert Goddard

  2. I am a great fan of Robert Goddard and met him some years ago when he visited Swindon. Once I start a book of his I can’t put it down until it is finished and then I wait impatiently for the next to be published. Looking forward to reading Long Time Coming.

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    21 January 2010 19:14

    Sheila Mitchell

  3. Long Time Coming is without doubt Robert Goddards best book for some time. As is the norm for a Goddard novel the characters have great depth. Once started it is compelling reading with typical twists and turns along the way. A return to top form, bring on the next one!

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    14 February 2010 18:43

    eric bird