William Boyd's books include A Good Man in Africa, winner of the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Award; An Ice-Cream War, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Brazzaville Beach, winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; Any Human Heart, winner of the Prix Jean Monnet; Restless, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year; and Ordinary Thunderstorms. His latest novel is Waiting for Sunrise.
From his Q & A with Sybil Steinberg at Publishers Weekly:
Would you describe Waiting for Sunrise as a psychological thriller or an espionage novel?Learn who Boyd would invite to his dream dinner party and his hero from outside literature.
I think of my first novel, Restless, and this one, as adventures in the manner of John Buchan and Somerset Maugham, yet with our modern hindsight. In the ’20s and ’30s they wrote about Englishmen embroiled abroad. That was my starting point.
Why did you make your protagonist, Lysander Reif, an actor?
I work so much in film and TV, and I have many close friends who are actors. It’s a profession I’m very close to. I knew from the beginning that he was going to get into trouble and his profession was going to be very helpful to him.
Why did you choose to start the novel in pre-WWI Vienna?
I’m fascinated by that city at that time [1913–1914]. Everything was happening there: art, philosophy, psychoanalysis. It was a ferment of intellectual ideas, a well of creative talent.
What or who inspired Lysander’s nemesis, the unscrupulous sexpot Hettie Bull?
In my mind she’s a bit like...[read on]