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Alan Furst - Author

About the Author

Alan Furst is widely recognised as the master of the historical spy novel. Now translated into eighteen languages, he is the author of fourteen novels including MIDNIGHT IN EUROPE, SPIES OF THE BALKANS - a TV Book Club choice - THE SPIES OF WARSAW, which became a BBC mini-series starring David Tennant and THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT. Born in New York, he lived for many years in Paris, and now lives on Long Island.

Below is a Q & A with this author.

Who's your favourite author?
I've got a lot of favourites, but my favourite favourite is Anthony Powell – his insight and technical magic are just beyond good. He is for me a real pleasure. I grew up with John Steinbeck and especially Bernard Malamud, I also like Von Rezzori (not all of it, but most), Joseph Roth, Primo Levi, Eric Ambler, of course, some Graham Greene, Mary Renault as a historical novelist, and I must include George MacDonald Fraser.

What's the first book you remember reading?
I can't remember whether it was The Wind in the Willows, Babar or something else. I remember Ratty and Moley, and Celeste – I can also remember reading "boys' books" which were hand-me-downs from the 1940s.

Where do you live? And why?
Sag Harbor, New York, six miles from the ocean, where the beaches are deserted for most of the year and the dog can run. It's beautiful here, but my heart's in Paris, so I go there when I'm able.

Where do you write?
I write in a converted 1930s garage with French doors and an old brick floor, looking out onto a garden.

Typewriter, word processor or pen?
Typewriter, a Lexmark personal wheelwriter, descendant of the mighty IBM Selectric.

Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, then refugee country (see Isaac Bashevis Singer and Bernard Malamud), now celebrated.

How many brothers and sisters do you have? Is anyone else in your family a writer?
No brothers and no sisters, I was a very late-in-life kid. We have no writers in the family; we were not well educated. It was pretty much high school and that was it.

Did you enjoy school? What is your most vivid memory of your school years?
I didn't like school much. I liked a few teachers and liked my friends, who taught me what I needed to know and told me what to read.

Did you always want to be an author? If not, what did you originally want to be and when and why did you change your mind? I've been a writer since the age of nine, never anything else, really. I changed my mind with a thunderclap about what to write after four books. I started as a poet – very serious about that; wrote a novel which I thought was a potboiler but wasn't. It didn't boil the pot and was estimably, to my astonishment, published.

What were the first pieces of writing that you produced? e.g. short stories, school magazine etc. My first writing was for school newspapers, then for a literary magazine in college, although actually I wrote stuff for myself earlier. I wrote non-fiction to survive, for Esquire and for International Herald Tribune amongst others. I also wrote ad copy to survive in my twenties and that was really good for me – it had to be right – and fast.

What jobs did you have before you started writing?
All the dust-jacket jobs: factory worker (summers in high school and college), fruit-picker, hay-bale bucker, taxi driver in New York, like that.

How do you write each novel, i.e. do you block out the narrative first, take each page at a time, create the central character, build a cast of characters?
I try to block out the novels, although I'm never successful. My outlines last 60 pages if I'm lucky, and after that it's up to my characters. Thank God for them, they know what needs to be done, and how to have a good time when they're not doing it.

What is a typical writing day?
Up at 5.30, work till noon or I've reached 500 words, two pages, whichever is first. Just like Ernest Hemingway said to do.

Have you started your next book? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
The new book is well under way: The Foreign Correspondent, about Italian anti-fascist émigrés in Paris in 1939 and the clandestine press.

Featured books by Alan Furst

Midnight in Europe

Midnight in Europe

Author: Alan Furst Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/06/2014

Paris, 1938. A shadow edges over Europe. Democratic forces are locked in struggle, while in Spain the war has already begun. Cristian Ferrar, a handsome Spanish lawyer in Paris, is a well-connected man. Ferrar is approached to help a clandestine agency supply weapons to beleaguered Republican forces and agrees, putting his life on the line. Joining Ferrar in his mission is an unlikely group of allies; idealists and gangsters, arms traders and aristocrats, including Max de Lyon, a man hunted by the Gestapo, and the Marquesa Maria Cristina, a refined beauty with a taste for danger. From libertine nightclubs in the City of Light to volatile bars by the docks in Gdansk, Furst paints a spell-binding portrait of a continent marching into a nightmare - and the heroes and heroines who fought back.

ebook of the month

Other books by Alan Furst

Foreign Correspondent

Foreign Correspondent

Author: Alan Furst Format: eBook Release Date: 04/01/2011

An underground newspaper reporter becomes the target of a European spy web in the looming shadow of WWII Paris in this heart-pounding thriller from the master of international intrigue, Alan Furst. Paris, 1938: a sensational story hits the tabloids: a murder/suicide in a lovers' hotel of an Italian political emigre and the wife of a prominent French politician. The assassination soon emerges as the work of Mussolini's secret police; the male victim was the editor of a clandestine newspaper that opposed Italian fascism. This is the story of Carlo, the man who replaces the victim as editor of the newspaper -- the man who becoms the next target for Mussolini's police, Stalin's propaganda apparatus, the M16 and of the Gestapo, even as the war grows closer every day.

Blood of Victory

Blood of Victory

Author: Alan Furst Format: eBook Release Date: 04/01/2011

In the autumn of 1940, Russian migr journalist I. A. Serebin is recruited in Istanbul by an agent of the British secret services for a clandestine operation to stop German importation of Romanian oila last desperate attempt to block Hitlers conquest of Europe. Serebins race against time begins in Bucharest and leads him to Paris, the Black Sea, Beirut, and, finally, Belgrade; his task is to attack the oil barges that fuel German tanks and airplanes. Blood of Victory has all the heart-pounding suspense, extraordinary historical accuracy, and narrative immediacy we have come to expect from Alan Furst.

Spies of the Balkans

Spies of the Balkans

Author: Alan Furst Format: eBook Release Date: 15/06/2010

Historical espionage at its finest by the New York Times bestselling author of The Foreign Correspondent , Alan Furst. The bestselling author of The Spies of Warsaw returns with a stunning new WWII-era novel of intrigue, danger, and love set in Balkan Greece. Master of espionage fiction Alan Furst transports us to the port city of Salonika, Macedonia in 1940. A novel full of intrigue, passion, and the fierce pride of resistance, and peopled with spies and agents operating from Germany, Britain, Hungary and Yugoslavia, Spies of the Balkans confirms Alan Fursts status as the undisputed master of historical spy fiction.

Red Gold

Red Gold

Author: Alan Furst Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/04/2009

The sequel to THE WORLD AT NIGHT featuring Jean Casson Set in the underworld of Paris in 1941. Reluctant spy Jean Casson returns to occupied Paris under a new identity. He is wanted by the Gestapo therefore must stay away from the civilised circles he knew as a film producer and learn to survive in the shadowy backstreets and cheap hotels of Pigalle. Yet as the war drags on, he finds himself drawn back into the dangerous world of resistance and sabotage . . .

Kingdom Of Shadows

Kingdom Of Shadows

Author: Alan Furst Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/04/2009

A novel of adventure and intrigue in wartime Europe Paris, 1938. Nicholas Morath, former Hungarian cavalry officer, returns home to his young mistress in the 7th arrondissement. He's been in Vienna where, amid the mobs screaming for Hitler, he's done a quiet favour for his uncle, Count Janos Polanyi. Polanyi is a diplomat and, desperate to stop his country's drift into alliance with Nazi Germany, he trades in conspiracy - with SS renegades, Abwehr officers, British spies and NKVD defectors, leading Morath deeper and deeper into danger as Europe edges towards war.

Night Soldiers

Night Soldiers

Author: Alan Furst Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/04/2009

Bulgaria, 1934. A young man is murdered by the local fascists. His brother, Khristo Stoianev, is recruited into the NKVD, the Soviet secret intelligence service, and sent to Spain to serve in its civil war. Warned that he is about to become a victim of Stalin's purges, Khristo flees to Paris. Night Soldiers masterfully re-creates the European world of 1934-45: the struggle between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia for Eastern Europe, the last desperate gaiety of the beau monde in 1937 Paris, and guerrilla operations with the French underground in 1944. Night Soldiers is a scrupulously researched panoramic novel, a work on a grand scale.

Dark Star

Dark Star

Author: Alan Furst Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/04/2009

Andre Szara, survivor of the Polish pogroms and the Russian civil wars, is a journalist working for Pravda in 1937. War in Europe is already underway and Szara is co-opted to join the NKVD, the Soviet secret intelligence agency. He does his best to survive the tango of pre-war politics by calmly obeying orders and keeping his nose clean. But when he is sent to retrieve a battered briefcase the plot thickens and is drawn into even more complex intrigues. Szara becomes a full-time spymaster and as deputy director of a Paris network, he finds his own star rising when he recruits an agent in Berlin who can supply crucial information. DARK STAR captures not only the intrigue and danger of clandestine life but the day-to-day reality of what Soviet operatives call special work.

The World at Night

The World at Night

Author: Alan Furst Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/04/2009

Paris 1940. The civilised, upper-class life of film producer Jean Casson ends with the German occupation of the city. Out of money and almost out of luck, Casson attempts to work with a German film company but finds himself drawn into the dark world of espionage and double agents. More used to evading jealous husbands than the secret police, Casson beomes a reluctant spy, torn between honour, patriotism, love and survival.

Blood of Victory

Blood of Victory

Author: Alan Furst Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/03/2009

Utterly gripping spy thriller set in the glittering world of European high society, just before the Second World War. November, 1940. I.A. Serebin, a writer from Odessa and former decorated Hero of the Soviet Union, is on his way to Istanbul following a cryptic letter from a former lover. Ostensibly there on official business for the International Russian Union, an emigre organisation based in Paris, he is drawn into a clandestine world of international spies and political players. With war in Europe drawing nearer, Serebin is recruited by the British secret services - his mission to stop the export of Romanian oil to Germany. In a race against time, Serebin's journey will take him from the glittering salons of Paris to the back alleys of Bucharest and the Black Sea ports, in a covert operation to staunch the flow of oil, the precious 'blood of victory'.

Dark Voyage

Dark Voyage

Author: Alan Furst Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/01/2009

From the master of the wartime espionage novel; a thrilling story of subterfuge at sea May 1941. At four in the morning, a rust-streaked tramp freighter steams up the Tagus river to dock at the port of Lisbon. She is the Santa Rosa, flies the flag of neutral Spain, and is in Lisbon to load cork oak, tinned sardines and drums of cooking oil bound for the Baltic port of Malmo. But she is not the Santa Rosa. She is the Noordendam, a Dutch freighter under the command of Captain Eric DeHaan. She sails for the intelligence division of the British Royal Navy and is involved in a secret mission. On board are a Polish engineer and British spy, Spaniards who fought for Franco and Germans who fought against Hitler. For them, this is a last desperate flight to freedom.

The Polish Officer

The Polish Officer

Author: Alan Furst Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 27/11/2008

From the master of the historical spy thriller, a story set in the heart of the Polish resistance September, 1939. The invading Germans blaze a trail of destruction across Poland. France and Britain declare war, but do nothing to help. And a Polish resistance movement takes shape under the shadow of occupation, enlisting those willing to risk death in the struggle for their nation's survival. Among them is Captain Alexander de Milja, an officer in the Polish military intelligence service, a cartographer who now must learn a dangerous new role: spymaster in the anti-Nazi underground. Beginning with a daring operation to smuggle the Polish National Gold Reserve to the government in exile, he slips into the shadowy and treacherous front lines of espionage; he moves through Europe, changing identities and staying one step ahead of capture. In Warsaw, he engineers a subversive campaign to strengthen the people's will to resist. In Paris, he poses as a Russian poet, then as a Slovakian coal merchant, drinking champagne in black-market bistros with Nazis while uncovering information about German battle plans. And a love affair with a woman of the French Resistance leads him to make the greatest decision of his life.

Spies of Warsaw

Spies of Warsaw

Author: Alan Furst Format: eBook Release Date: 03/06/2008

A new thriller from "e;the greatest living writer of espionage fiction"e; -- Houston Chronicle Autumn 1937: War is coming to Europe. French and German intelligence operatives are locked in a life-and-death struggle on the espionage battlefield. At the French embassy, the new military attach, Colonel Jean-Franois Mercier, a decorated hero of the 1914 war, is drawn into a world of abduction, betrayal, and intrigue in the diplomatic salons and back alleys of Warsaw. At the same time, the handsome aristocrat finds himself in a passionate love affair with a Parisian woman of Polish heritage, a lawyer for the League of Nations. Colonel Mercier must work in the shadows, amid an extraordinary cast of venal and dangerous characters -- Colonel Anton Vyborg of Polish military intelligence; the mysterious and sophisticated Dr. Lapp, senior German Abwehr officer in Warsaw; Malka and Viktor Rozen, at work for the Russian secret service; and Mercier's brutal and vindictive opponent, Major August Voss of SS counterintelligence. And there are many more, some known to Mercier as spies, some never to be revealed. The Spies of Warsaw is Furst's finest novel to date -- exciting, atmospheric, erotic, and impossible to put down.

The Foreign Correspondent

The Foreign Correspondent

Author: Alan Furst Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 17/10/2007

The next great page-turner from the master of the noir spy novel. By 1939, thousands of Italian intellectuals, teachers and lawyers, journalists and scientists, had fled Mussolini's fascist government and found refuge in Paris. There, amidst the poverty and difficulty of emigre life, they joined the Italian resistance, founding an underground press that smuggled news and encouragement back to their lost homeland. In Paris, in the winter of 1939, a murder/suicide at a lovers' hotel hits the tabloid press. But this is not a romantic tragedy, it is the work of OVRA, Mussolini's fascist secret police, and meant to eliminate the editor of Liberazione, a clandestine newspaper published by Italian emigres. Carlo Weisz, who has fled from Trieste and found work as a foreign correspondent for the Reuters bureau, becomes the new editor. Weisz is, at that moment, in Spain, reporting on the tragic end of the Spanish civil war, but, as soon as he returns to Paris, he is pursued by the French Surete, by agents of OVRA, and by officers of the British Secret Intelligence Service. In the desperate politics of Europe on the edge of war, a foreign correspondent is a pawn, worth surveillance, or blackmail, or murder. The Foreign Correspondent is the story of Carlo Weisz and a handful of anti-fascists -- the army officer known as Colonel Ferrara, who fights for a lost cause in Spain, Arturo Salamone, the shrewd leader of a resistance group in Paris, and the woman who becomes the love of his Weisz's life, herself involved in a doomed resistance underground in Berlin, at the heart of Hitler's Nazi empire.

Foreign Correspondent

Foreign Correspondent

Author: Alan Furst Format: eBook Release Date: 01/06/2006

From Alan Furst, bestselling author of Blood of Victory and Dark Voyage, comes a thrilling saga of everyday people forced by their hearts' passion to fight in the war against tyranny. Paris, a winter night in 1938: a murder/suicide at a discreet lovers' hotel. But this is no romantic tragedy -- it is the work of the OVRA, Mussolini's fascist secret police, and is meant to eliminate the editor of Liberazione, a clandestine émigré newspaper. Carlo Weisz, a foreign correspondent with the Reuters bureau, becomes the new editor. Weisz is, at that moment, in Spain, reporting on the last campaign of the Spanish civil war. But as soon as he returns to Paris, he is pursued by the French Sûreté, by agents of the OVRA, and by officers of the British Secret Intelligence Service. In the desperate politics of Europe on the edge of war, a foreign correspondent is a pawn, worth surveillance, or blackmail, or murder. The story of a secret war fought in elegant hotel bars and first-class railway cars, in the mountains of Spain and the back streets of Berlin, The Foreign Correspondent is Alan Furst at his absolute best -- taut and powerful, enigmatic and romantic, with sharp, seductive writing that takes listeners through darkness and intrigue to a spectacular denouement.

The Book of Spies

The Book of Spies

Author: Alan Furst Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/08/2004

Author Info

Author's Website

https://alanfurst.net/index.htm

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