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


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’.

10 thoughts on “Ben Aaronovitch, the writer of the “Rivers of London” supernatural crime novels, Londoner #76

  1. I love these books. I bought the audio-books as well. They are so clever and as he shows you can walk the chases.

  2. Listening to Kobna Holdbrook-Smith narrate Ben Aaronovitch's sublime "Rivers of London" series adds new colors to life's spectrum. May the "Rivers" series continue for a long, long time!

  3. I really like convent Garden!! 😍🤗
    Is this his first book?

  4. What an interesting human being. Great wit and humour. Love love love his books, need tv or movies made.

  5. Ben was a Doctor Who writer …. Shortly before the 1963 – 1989 series was cancelled

  6. Foxglove Summer is set in Herefordshire. And Ben clearly did his research !!

  7. I'm half way through "Rivers of London" and already bought the rest of the books. Lucky me, it's 2019 😀

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