Map of Blue Book Balloon

22 June 2017

Chris Ewan - The Good Thief's Guides

Chris Ewan, author of The Good Thief's Guide  series, has just republished his series of adventures featuring Charlie Howard, writer of mysteries and thief. 

Starting from 20 June you can download them individually for Kindle (here's the first, The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam) or as a boxset for £6.99.

To celebrate, Chris answered some questions for me about the books, and his writing 

BBB Did Charlie Howard come to you before the plot or did the plot come first?

CE I guess the answer to this is that Charlie came first or, more accurately, the overall concept for the series came first and Charlie slotted very neatly into that. I knew I wanted to write a mystery series that incorporated an element of travel fiction by moving the overall story on to a new city with each new book. I also wanted to write about a crook, because I really enjoy stories that feature antiheroes and that address questions of what really makes us good or bad. A gentleman thief seemed like the ideal fit because it struck me that Charlie could carry out his thefts in all kinds of different environments – and that if something went wrong, he might very well have to move on pretty fast …

BBB Was writing stories about a crime writer… who is writing stories… ever confusing?

CE That was the really fun part! I love the idea of stories within stories and books within books. Making the Good Thief a (failing) hack crime writer who writes about a burglar and who also happens to moonlight as a burglar himself gave me a lot of material to play around with. And if it ever got confusing, I’d just go for a walk, muttering to myself. I tend to do that far too much.

BBB How much control do you have over your characters? Do the books ever take completely unexpected turns?

CE The books always take unexpected turns because I never plan them! I think I’d get bored if I did and possibly the reader would, too. Most days when I write it’s a slog but the days when things feel as if they’re really coming together are when the story takes a turn that surprises me but that also feels authentic and true to the book I’m writing.

BBB What’s it like working again with books you wrote ten years ago?

CE I will admit that I started off reading them through splayed fingers but the truth is I always loved writing about the Good Thief so much that it’s been a real joy to get back into his world. I’m hoping that if the new editions of the books prove a success it will allow me to write more Good Thief books in the future. That’s the dream outcome for me.

BBB Where do you stand on genre (every time I look there seem to be more of them…) - useful in writing or just a marketing label?

CE I think the most important step before I start work on a new book is figuring out exactly what kind of story it is I want to write. What should the tone be? What effect do I want the book to have on a reader? Where do I see it being shelved in a bookshop? Genres and sub-genres help me to make those decisions so I think they’re a good thing for writers and for readers. I’m all for more labels!

BBB What inspired you to write in the first place – and how did you get started writing?

CE Two books really inspired me. The first was Jack Kerouac’s On The Road but the book that made me want to write crime fiction was Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye (which is still my favourite novel). I started writing my first novel when I was twenty. Then I wrote another three books and eventually got my break just under a decade later. Fast work, right?

BBB And how did it compare with what you expected?

CE I still love everything about writing. I love coming up with new story ideas and shaping them over the course of a year into a complete book. I take enormous satisfaction from the process. In terms of publishing, I’ve had some wins in my career and I’ve taken some losses. None of it has really matched up with my (very naïve) expectations of the industry but the good far outweighs the bad. I know I’m very lucky to make my living as a writer and I’m enormously grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given.

BBB Finally, a question that isn’t (directly) about the books. You’ve stumbled into a devious plot while researching a new novel as a result of which you’re trapped in a lonely forest tower. A rescue party is on its way but will take several days to reach you. You have plenty of food and water, and you can have one book with you. Which would it be?

CE Well, that’s easy! It would be the next book on my To Be Read pile, which at the moment happens to be Michael Connelly’s The Last Coyote.

BBB Chris, thanks for answering those questions, and here's wishing you great success with the republication - and hoping it might lead to new adventures for the Good Thief!


  1. I've "met" Chris through a Facebook group and it's a pleasure to learn more about him and his writing. I wish him much success with the republication of his Charlie Howard books. It sounds like he's hit on a great idea for a series!

  2. He has! I really hope this leads to more, there's obviously a lot of scope here!