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Ewan, Chris 1976–

Ewan, Chris 1976–

PERSONAL:

Born in Taunton, England, 1976; married; wife's name Jo. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, writing.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Douglas, Isle of Man. Agent—Sheil Land Associates, 52 Doughty St., London WC1N 2LS, England. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer and lawyer.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Long Barn Books First Novel Prize, for The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam.

WRITINGS:

The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam (novel), St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2007.

The Good Thief's Guide to Paris (novel), St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2008.

Also author of an unpublished novel, Road Movie, and of two other novels. Author of The Good Thief's Blog.

SIDELIGHTS:

Chris Ewan had the desire to write at a very early age. "I've always enjoyed language," he said in an interview for It's a Crime! (or a Mystery …). "Stringing words together has always been the most satisfying thing for me. I was often writing short stories as a kid. And later, I wrote really bad teenage poetry or, worse, song lyrics. I was always scribbling things down. And from a very young age I dreamed of writing a really good book." While he was a college student, Ewan read Jack Kerouac's novel On the Road and then spent some three years trying to write a book inspired by Kerouac's work. It was never published, and neither was his second completed novel. A lull in his work schedule allowed him to devote himself full-time to work on a third novel, but this one failed to please him, and he returned to his business as an attorney. Finally he decided to try writing something in the crime genre. The result, The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam, was his first published novel. It was also, Ewan stated, "the most enjoyable, fully-formed writing experience I'd had. I knew for the first time that I'd produced a complete novel—one which really did have a beginning, a middle and an end."

The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam focuses on Charlie Howard, a crime writer with an upper-class background. Charlie is in Amsterdam working on his latest book, when he is approached by a mysterious stranger, an American, who asks him to steal two identical monkey figurines, located in two different spots. Charlie feels very comfortable in the world of thieves, and he decides to go through with it. He acquires the monkey figurines, which are apparently worthless, but he soon finds himself caught up in a wild misadventure that finds him incarcerated by law enforcement authorities, as well as kidnapped and held prisoner by persons outside the law. When the American who first enlisted his help is murdered, Charlie becomes a prime suspect. Through the course of the novel, Charlie has to try to clear his name as well as get away with the loot he has come across.

Assessing the book for Reviewing the Evidence, Christina Zibas called it a funny, "masterful tale of intrigue" featuring a main character that is both believable and likable. She further noted that the author's pacing "is spot on, doling out the information in just the right quantities to keep his readers zinging along with the story…. His intertwining story of a writer's frustration in ending a mystery successfully is charming as well." Zibas also praised the way Ewan evoked his setting in a vivid, but not heavyhanded, way. Following the success of The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam, Ewan wrote a sequel, The Good Thief's Guide to Paris. He also planned to continue the series further, taking Charlie to other cities around the world.

Ewan was quoted in It's a Crime! (or a Mystery …) as saying: "I can get a lot of satisfaction from reading well-crafted writing, but most of all I like a good story. I like to feel like a book is going somewhere—that it has an absolute pull on my attention. I've read a lot of crime authors saying that they write in the genre because it gives them an opportunity to comment on pressing modern concerns, or the dark side of contemporary society, for example, but my prime motivations in writing crime fiction is that it allows me, hopefully, to tell a really good yarn."

Ewan told CA: "I am influenced by the writing of many authors. Some of my favourite authors include Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith, Lawrence Block, James Lee Burke, James Ellroy, Elmore Leonard, and Paul Auster."

When asked to describe his writing process, Ewan responded: "Trial and error—mostly error—but that is why the delete key was invented.

"The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer is the importance of the first line of a novel. Get the pace, tone, and style right and the rest will follow.

"I hope that my books will entertain, and to do so smoothly, by creating a movie in someone else's head."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 2007, Jessica Moyer, review of The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam, p. 35.

Bookseller, October 6, 2006, "Good Thief's Guide Wins First Novel Race," p. 7.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2007, review of The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam.

Publishers Weekly, September 24, 2007, review of The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam, p. 46; August 11, 2008, review of The Good Thief's Guide to Paris.

Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, Australia), August 8, 2008, review of The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam.

ONLINE

Chris Ewan's MySpace Page,http://www.myspace.com/chrisewan (August 5, 2008).

Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam Home Page,http://www.thegoodthief.co.uk (August 5, 2008).

It's a Crime! (or a Mystery …),http://www.itsacrime.typepad.com/ (August 5, 2008), interview with Chris Ewan.

Reviewing the Evidence,http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/ (August 5, 2008), Christina Zibas, review of The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam.

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