Author Interview with Mel Bradshaw

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Author Interview with Mel Bradshaw

Posted on May 16 by Mel Bradshaw
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Today on the blog we have an interview with Mel Bradshaw, author of the new release Fire on the Runway. Mel studied English and philosophy at the University of Toronto and continued at Oxford. His first novel, Death in the Age of Steam, was shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award for best first crime novel. Today Mel talks about this new book, his ideal writing environment and what he's reading right now.

How did you come up with the idea for this work?



I write what I like to read. Mainly that’s crime fiction, but I’ve also long been fascinated by tales of espionage. I’d already set my novel Quarrel with the Foe in the 1920s and I knew there were secrets worth spying out in that fascinating decade. When I discovered how Germany was clandestinely circumventing the rearmament provisions of the Versailles Treaty, I had my subject for Fire on the Runway.

How did you come up with the title?



The epigraph, which quotes a senator, came before the title: “We live in a fireproof house, far from inflammable materials. A vast ocean separates us from Europe.” This was the Canadian justification for not worrying about threats to peace across the Atlantic. The title Fire on the Runway has a literal application within the novel, but also suggests that the fire coming to Europe (World War II) would involve this country too.

Describe your ideal writing environment.



First, a desk by a window with a view of trees and no noise louder than birdsong. Then a few shelves of reference books and a trusty iMac computer. It also helps to have well-stocked university libraries just a short transit ride away. And, of course, extended periods without major non-writing responsibilities. That’s the ideal — and sometimes the reality.

What inspired your to write your first book?



A fascination with the Victorian era. It was a great age for the novel, but also for industrialization, technology, and the spread of democracy. In school, we study the Mackenzie Rebellion of 1837 and Confederation in 1867. But what of the thirty years between? I wanted to learn more. My research led me to 1856, a year when constitutional wrangling was on hold and when Toronto and Montreal were first connected by rail. I used a missing-person story to explore as entertainingly as possible the landscape and the conflicts of the age. This was Death in the Age of Steam.

What are you reading right now?



Hugh Thomas’s exhaustive history The Spanish Civil War. I spent four weeks in Spain last year and was struck by how marked the country is still by the war in the 1930s and by the ensuing decades of dictatorship. Having written two novels set in the 1920s, I’d like to extend my understanding of the interwar period. Despite a cast of characters far larger than would work in fiction, Thomas tells his story well.

Mel Bradshaw

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014
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Mel Bradshaw

Mel Bradshaw studied English and philosophy at the University of Toronto and continued at Oxford. His first novel, Death in the Age of Steam, was shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award for best first crime novel. He lives in Toronto.