Black River – Will Dean’s Cultural Favourites
11th March, 2020
Will Dean, author of Dark Pines, Red Snow and the new Black River, on Yaa Gyasi, ballet, and living in an elk forest in Sweden…
What’s the last book you read that stuck with you?
I reread Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi back in January and it bowled me over (again). I’m in awe of this book. The way the stories are all so complete and compelling in themselves, yet manage to span centuries and continents and all be so beautifully connected, is dazzlingly impressive.
Where is your favourite place to visit?
I live at the centre of a vast elk forest in Sweden. My family and I live semi off-grid in a wooden house. We live a simple, quiet life. I’m lucky to travel far and wide to talk about books and meet readers (Hong Kong, Western Ireland and New York were highlights last year). But my favourite place in the world is home. The changing seasons, the wildlife, the night skies, the wild flowers. My boggy forest is the place I feel most at peace.
What films or TV have you seen recently that inspired you?
We live a long way from the nearest cinema (unfortunately!) and we spent many years without a TV so I’m very behind! But recently I’ve been watching The Wire for the first time. I think it’s superb.
Do you have a favourite bookshop?
So many! Whenever I visit a new town or city I tend to gravitate to the park and the bookshops. It’s difficult to choose favourites but my shortlist would definitely include Forum Books in Corbridge, Imagined Things in Harrogate, Waterstones Piccadilly in London, Toppings in Ely, Waterstones in Durham, Heffers in Cambridge, and Daunts in Marylebone.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
That’s an interesting question. I don’t really wish I’d written anyone else’s book. I wouldn’t have done it as well. Those are their stories, not mine. But here are a few books I think are stunningly good: The Road by Cormac McCarthy, The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, Under the Skin by Michel Faber, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, Skin Deep by Liz Nugent, The Shining by Stephen King, The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark, You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood, Neon Rain by James Lee Burke, Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, Forensics by Val McDermid, Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, The Sellout by Paul Beatty, Asta’s Book by Barbara Vine, Nudibranch by Irenosen Okojie.
What would you recommend everyone to see at the theatre?
Now you’re teasing me! I miss theatre and libraries and ballet and bookshops and pubs. When I visit London I do try to get a £8 ticket for the Royal Opera House. I prefer ballets. I’m a simple forest-dweller really but I love sitting through a ballet, up in the cheap seats. I can’t usually see much of the stage but that’s fine. I close my eyes or watch members of the orchestra play their instruments. It’s probably the best value night out in London. A beautiful space, wonderful music, talented dancers. All for £8.
Black River, the latest Tuva Moodyson mystery, is out now in hardback.