“You have to have heart's passion to write a novel.” – Alan Furst
Born in New York City on this date in 1941, Furst is noted for spy novels set just prior to World War II, an era and genre’ he first explored in the late 1980s after taking a trip along the Danube. Before becoming a full-time novelist, he studied English at Oberlin College, worked in advertising and wrote articles for both magazines and newspapers, including the prestigious International Herald Tribune in Paris.
Furst, who arguably can lay claim to the title “Inventor of the Historical Spy Novel,” has especially been lauded for his successful evocations of Eastern European peoples and places during the tumultuous era of 1933-1942. While all of his historical espionage novels are loosely connected, only his mega-bestsellers The World at Night and Red Gold share a common plot.
“I write about the period 1933-42, and I read books written during those years,” Furst said. “(I read) books by foreign correspondents of the time, histories of the time written contemporaneously or just afterwards, autobiographies and biographies of people who were there.” That, he said, has been a key to his success in bringing the period to life in his many bestselling books. “I don't really write plots. I use history as the engine that drives everything."
“My theory is that sometimes writers write books because they want to read them and they aren't there to be read. And I think that was true of me.”
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