Sunday, 1 September 2019

Linwood Barclay’s Elevator Pitch comes to your floor

Released on 5th September from the HQ Imprint of HarperCollins in the UK and Ireland; and on September 17th from the William Morrow imprint of HarperCollins in the US and Canada, it’s time to mark your diaries.

I read extensively, and am most enthused by work that makes me think, to ponder, as well exposure to well-written narrative, especially those that are a tad different from the pack, a tad weird. Elevator Pitch is one such thriller, weird and different.

I’ve been a long-term reader of the work of Linwood Barclay, but little prepared me for his latest thriller, Elevator Pitch, as it provoked thought as it entertained me.

This new work by Linwood Barclay is his most audacious, blending character to a high-tech, high-concept premise inducing vertigo in the reader. Following from the claustrophobia of his last novel, A Noise Downstairs; Barclay broadens his vista moving from a suburban backdrop to the big city.

New York becomes gripped by what appears as a tragedy, a freak accident - but soon becomes something worse, something perplexing to a city that relies on height to function. An elevator (aka ‘Lift’) in Lansing Tower malfunctions taking with it a wannabe (and desperate) screenwriter trying to pitch his script to an executive of Cromwell Entertainment. It contains two others. The elevator ascends to the top of the skyscraper and then descends into free-fall. The horrific deaths of the four occupants trapped in that elevator eponymously gives this thriller its signature, and curiously, a theme of sorts.

Elevator Pitch is one of the most exciting thrillers I’ve read this year. Its intriguing and thought-provoking premise was matched by the startling denouement, ensuring it was well-worth the ride.  Despite its heft, and narrative complexity, it is a very fast read.

It’s a book that made me pause when those lift-doors closed. I pondered if it would have been better for my health if I had taken the stairwell.

Read the full review from Shots Magazine HERE

So, with a few burning questions, Linwood agreed to a short interview with this extraordinary book released shortly -

Ali: So, the most pressing question first, where did you get the premise for Elevator Pitch?

Linwood: I wish I could say the idea came to me when I was trapped in an elevator. Truth is, I heard an item on the Toronto news that the city did not have enough elevator inspectors. There hadn’t been a tragedy, but they wanted to be sure they were on guard for one. And the idea, of someone who kills by sabotaging elevators, was suddenly just THERE.

Ali: Do you have a preference between the small town / suburban backdrop of your previous work such as A Noise Downstairs to the broader vista of a Techno-Thriller such as Trust your Eyes?

Linwood: I’m okay with either, but if I’m going to set a book in a big city, I have to have a sense of it. And I’ve spent a lot of time in New York, so I felt comfortable setting it there. This book HAD to be set there. As for small towns, you don’t have to worry so much about geographical details. You can invent them. You can invent the whole town.

Ali: And tell us as a writer how you manage a large cast of characters, making them distinct and vivid for the reader?

Linwood: Honestly, I don’t really think about that. I create the people I need and give them the background I think suits them.

Ali: Did you plot Elevator Pitch in detail or had you just the premise and the conclusion, and worked on that high-wire?

Linwood: I had a lot of it worked out in my head before I began, who did it and why. But I was a hundred pages or so into the book when I figured out how the book had to end – a big climactic scene at the top of a new Manhattan skyscraper.

Ali: And the short chapters?

Linwood: I have a short attention span. But seriously, I think short chapters keep a story moving, and allow you to jump from scene to scene more easily. 

Ali: I find that in your work, all the cast have flaws of some sort, some more than others. What is it about the fallibility of the human condition that interests you?

Linwood: We’re all messed up, aren’t we? Who among us is perfect? It’s our flaws that make us interesting, that make us tick, that often determine how we will react in a situation. We’re an amalgam of bad habits, grudges and insecurities. And yet, often lovable. 

Ali: I marvel at how easy you make your books appear, so tell me what are you like as a person when trapped in your imagination and pecking away at the keyboard?

Linwood: It’s a job. Having worked in newspapers for 30 years, there’s no other way for me to approach it. I get up in the morning and go to work. The goal is to get 2,000 words done. Some days I don’t quite make that, other days I get well past it. And then the whistle blows around three in the afternoon when my wife, Neetha, calls up to the study, saying, “It’s vodka o’clock.”

Ali: I can see the film of Elevator Pitch in my mind, so has there been interest in this novel by Film / TV? And please tell us about the other film projects that involve your work?

Linwood: Fingers crossed Elevator Pitch attracts some interest. The Accident has been made into a very good six-part series in France, and I wrote the screenplay for Never Saw it Coming, from my book, which was made into a movie in Canada and is available on a Canadian streaming service. I hope it gets shown one of these days in the UK. My Promise Falls trilogy – Broken Promise, Far From True, The Twenty-Three – is in development with eOne and a Canadian network for a series. I’m involved, and have just written the pilot. Again, fingers crossed.

Ali: I enjoyed your Alfred Hitchcock moment in the book trailer, so tell us about how that came about?

Linwood: HarperCollins UK wanted to do a short promotional film using the News Building elevators when I was in London last November. They got some shots of me waiting for an elevator, boarding it. Unlike Hitchcock, though, I got to say something. It was fun.

Ali: I know that one of your passions is the building of model railways, so tell us a little about where this interest sprang from?

Linwood: My father made me a very basic model railway when I was around five or six, and the interest has always stayed with me. We moved this past year and I had to tear down a layout that filled a room that was 14 by 14 feet. But there is a room in the new house, slightly larger, and construction of a new empire is well underway. I find, when you are inventing an entire world in your head all day, it’s nice to create one with your hands in the evening, or weekend.

Ali: So how are the team at your new UK home, HarperCollins treating you?

Linwood: Wonderfully. They put me up at the Shard. What more could you want?

Ali: You scared me when you (and Kate Mills your publisher) spotted me in London walking to an unrelated book launch, could you tell me what you were doing on the flying visit to London?

Linwood: That was a wild trip. Flew out of Toronto Monday night, landed in Dublin Tuesday, then off to London for Wednesday and Thursday, then home Friday. It was a whirlwind tour to build the buzz for Elevator Pitch. I felt like I was on one, going up and down and up and down, the doors never opening.

Ali: Are you touring and signing copies of Elevator Pitch in Europe, America and Canada this year and are details available on your website yet?

Linwood: All my tour details are posted on the website, with regular reminders on Twitter and Facebook.

Ali: And finally, what are you working on? Are you returning to the darkness that is concealed within suburbia, or the dangers of the Big City?

Linwood: I thought I knew what I was doing next, even had a book written. But I got a new idea that’s so terrific – not that the other one isn’t – that I may get an extension on my deadline and do it first. Not breathing a word about it.

Ali: Thank you for your time.

Linwood: And yours too.

Shots Magazine would like to thank Joe Thomas of Harper Collins HQ for organising this feature interview.

Read the full review from Shots Magazine HERE of Elevator Pitch out 5th September 2019 [UK / Ireland] in HBK

Read the full review of A Noise Downstairs HERE out currently in PB

More information about Linwood Barclay’s promotional tour for Elevator Pitch is available from

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