There are few authors who can hook me from the first page. Most books take a hundred-or-so
pages to get "into", and there have been quite a few I've given up on before I've even got
that far. I'm a slow reader, with a backlog of several hundred books to get through, so every
book has got to work for its living.
Michael Marshall Smith is one of those few special writers who captures your attention on
the first page, and manages to hold it to the very last. I started that first page on a flight
back from London (well, actually on the train to a flight back from London). Normally I don't
like reading on planes (I tend to spend a lot of time looking out the window at the wrong side
of the clouds). However, on this occasion I found myself absorbed into the book, only interrupted
by that annoying airline meal they insist on feeding you, and before I knew it we were landing
The book was, of course, Only Forward, and I have been hooked by Mr Smith ever since. It
tells the story of Stark, a privite eye in a slightly futuristic world. When he's contracted
to find a missing executive, he doesn't expect to uncover gremlins from his own past.
His second novel, Spares, is equally enthralling, telling the story of a group of clones
kept as "spare parts" for their rich owners.
His most recent novel, One of Us, explores ideas surrounding memory transfer. The main
character is a "REMtemp", who makes his living by having other people's anxiety dreams for
them. When he wakes up to find himself with the memory of someone else's murder in his head,
he's in big trouble.
He has also written numerous short stories, a selection of which were published last year
in the anthology What You Make It.
Born in England, Smith's family moved to the US when he was one, where he spent most of his
early childhood. They then moved to South Africa and Australia before returning to England.
Although he lived in England for most of his teenage years, he still returned to the States
for many visits. He still visits on a regular basis "to stock up on Tootsie Rolls, good salad
dressings, and to eat good Mexican food".
He studied at King's College, Cambridge where he became involved with the Cambridge Footlights,
a comedy group which produced many of the Pythons.
After college, he worked in several "normal" jobs, producing corporate videos and ending up
as a freelance graphic designer. While he was doing this, he started writing short stories.
His first story, The Man Who Drew Cats, won the British Fantasy Award, which encouraged him to write more.
He wrote his first novel Only Forward, which was well received and won several awards. His
second and third novels were immediately optioned and production of the movie Spares will be
starting soon. Although he is not currently involved in the screenplay adaptions, he has also
been working on several other screenplay adaptions and television projects.
He lives in North London with his wife Paula and their two cats.
Michael Marshall Smith links: