10 Questions with Thomas Mogford
Who is Thomas Mogford?
Thomas has worked as a journalist for ‘Time Out’ and as a translator for the European Parliament and the UEFA Champions League. While studying to be a lawyer, he looked into practising abroad. Instead, he decided to write a series of thrillers set in the Mediterranean region. “Shadow of the Rock” introduces Spike Sanguinetti, a lawyer from Gibraltar who is willing to risk everything to protect his client. The next book in the series, “The Sign of the Cross”, is coming soon.
10 Questions with Thomas Mogford
Mr. Mogford, thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for my blog. Your new novel, Shadow of the Rock, comes out today. Tell us a bit more about this work.
Shadow of the Rock is the first in a series of crime novels featuring a lawyer from Gibraltar called Spike Sanguinetti. Spike arrives home late one night to find an old school friend called Solomon Hassan waiting on his doorstep. Solomon has been accused of murdering a girl in Morocco; Spike reluctantly agrees to travel to Tangiers to find out more about the crime, and to try and prevent Solomon’s extradition. Some nasty scrapes ensue.
Who is Spike Sanguinetti, the main character of Shadow of the Rock, and how did you go about creating his personality?
Spike trained as a lawyer in London, and might have worked for a high-powered City law firm, but instead has decided to move back home to Gibraltar to keep an eye on his ailing and increasingly confused father. The key to his personality was imagining not how I would behave in a given situation, but how someone a great deal cooler than me might react. That said, Spike has a few more personal issues swirling around than I do (I hope).
How is Shadow of the Rock unique and what distinguishes it from thousands of thrillers that are published each day?
Hopefully it’s distinguished by its settings – Gibraltar, Tangiers and a remote village in the Sahara. Parts of the world a reader may have heard of, without necessarily knowing too much about them.
How did it happen that you wanted to become a writer?
I love reading, and was keen to connect my work to something I loved. It’s been a long journey, however – it took over ten years before I finally got a novel published!
You’ve studied law and thought about practicing in Gibraltar, then ended up writing this book. Why? What is life like on the Rock?
I decided to study law after my second novel was turned down, but my heart was never truly in it, not least as I quickly realised that the hours demanded of a London barrister don’t leave much time for writing. So I moved back into a job that gave me more time to write. Even when I was shown around a law firm in Gibraltar, my mind was already on what a great setting it would make. I went back to Gibraltar a number of times while researching the book – the main feature of life on the Rock is its claustrophobic scale, 30,000 locals crammed into an area the size of London’s Hyde Park. I remember overhearing one man on the street saying to another, ‘Your cousin’s unwell again.’ ‘How do you know?’ came the reply. ‘I heard her coughing through the kitchen wall.’
A word of advice for new writers?
Don’t give up – Shadow of the Rock is technically my fifth novel. And try to plot things out before you start.
What is your typical writing day?
My normal routine has been blown apart since my wife, Ali, and I had a baby boy called Jack last November. He is currently tugging at my trouser leg and preventing me from doing much beyond tickling him under the chin. But in normal times… it usually features immense procrastination, followed by a sudden and infuriated burst of activity.
What other books are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished the sequel to Shadow of the Rock, currently entitled The Sign of the Cross. Spike’s uncle and aunt die in horrific circumstances in Malta; when he travels there for the funerals, all is not as it seems.
What do you like to read and what are you reading now?
I enjoy a mix of literary fiction and thrillers (though the line often seems blurred). I recently sandwiched Julian Barnes and Peter Carey between Michael Connelly and the brilliant Italian crime writer Gianrico Carofiglio.
What can readers expect to find in Shadow of the Rock?
Hopefully the chance to visit some of the seedier corners of the Mediterranean without having to leave their arm- or deckchair.