Books·Magic 8 Q&A

C.C. Humphreys on his signature dish and dream casting

The author of Fire answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
C.C. Humphreys is author of the novel Fire, the sequel to Plague. (

C.C. Humphreys is no stranger to well-crafted drama. A denizen of the theatre as well as a writer, Humphreys follows up his fantastically riveting and award-winning book Plague with a sequel, Fire. The novel follows an unlikely trio on the trail of a serial killer wreaking havoc in London in 1666.

Below, C.C. Humphreys answers eight questions submitted by eight of his fellow writers in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A.

1. Linwood Barclay asks, "Does writing get easier the more you do it, or more difficult because you don't want to repeat yourself?"

Easier. I find it's always hard to get going but once I am rolling on a new book I think: That's right, I've done this before.

2. Joan Clark asks, "What part does the subconscious play when you are writing fiction?"

A huge one. The current book — and ones still in planning — never leave the mind during the day or night. So when I sit down again, there's always new material.

3. Kevin Major asks, "If you were to write a book with a chef as a major character, what would be the chef's best recipe?"

This may be a case of write what you know. My signature dish is Risotto con finnochio, granchio e vodka — crab, fennel and vodka risotto. Under its influence guests reveal their secrets. Slurringly.

4. Roo Borson asks, "What would you like to do in writing that you haven't yet tried?"

I would love to be part of a writers room for a hit TV comedy series. I like collaboration and to fling jokes around while jazzed on java — fun!

5. Lawrence Hill asks, "What is the worst job you ever had, and what kind of good material did it give you?"

Oh, there have been a few. The worst was probably when I was at college and worked as the last man on a conveyor belt. Having to seal then heave boxes onto pallets, then move them, then return to the backlog? Madness! The material it gave me was that I knew I was never going to write Beckett! I needed escape!

6. Jalal Barzanji asks, "What is the purpose of writing and what changes does your writing bring to your life?"

I see myself primarily as an entertainer. I want to immerse people in story, especially with "character-in-peril". Changes? A good day leaves me wasted and fulfilled. After a lifetime of being an actor, I revel in that.

7. Shilpi Somaya Gowda asks, "What's your best 'fuel' for a good writing session: a great night's sleep, a long walk, a strong cup of coffee, or a glass of wine (or scotch)?"

Coffee. (Gulp). Has to be really good and the right dosage: enough to get and keep me going, not so much that I jitter.

8. Peggy Blair asks, "If your book became a movie, which actor would play your lead and why?"

Always torn by that. Do you go for mega star in the hope of bringing in mega bucks? Or the perfect casting? If I sadly remove myself (a little too old for a highwayman), I think I'd settle for... Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey). Charming but he also has a yet untapped reservoir of sadness that Captain Coke will need.