Peter Corris Interview

Since the early 1980s Peter Corris has been producing a series of crime novels featuring his PI Cliff Hardy. His latest, Deep Water, is the 35th in the series, and as it is released Marc McEvoy interviewed the author for "The Sydney Morning Herald".

Although Corris invented the character of Hardy in 1976, it took five years to find a publisher for his first novel, The Dying Trade. Once a punchy, beer-swilling philanderer, Hardy is less sexist now. His evolution during the series mirrors the changes in his creator.

"I stopped smoking about one or two books in - Cliff stopped smoking," Corris says. "I started jogging and trying to take better care of myself five or six books in - Cliff starts exercising. I try to keep alcohol consumption down - likewise, Cliff cuts down his drinking."

The changes are sometimes structural, such as when Hardy's office in Darlinghurst was renovated in real life, so he has since moved to Newtown.

Sometimes Corris even plants books he's reading in the plot, which help punctuate the action. In Deep Water Hardy reads Julian Barnes's Arthur And George and James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia. "Cliff's never read anything I haven't read," Corris says.

But Corris insists Hardy is a complete fantasy figure in the way the detective can prevail against the odds. "His physical capabilities are way beyond anything I could do . . . and his sexual prowess is considerably greater than mine," Corris says with a grin. "But the sense of humour, the take on life, the take on politics and religion - these are absolutely me."

Corris invented Hardy after reading American crime fiction writers Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Ross Macdonald. "Hardy was a straight pinch from Raymond Chandler and Philip Marlowe," he says.

I seem to remember reading a piece of Corris's in an issue of the late-lamented "National Times" from the late 70s or early 80s - about the time the Hardy series started. As I recall Corris was at a crime convention somewhere in the States and told someone there that he intended to write an ongoing PI crime series set in Sydney. They just about laughed in his face. Not any longer I suspect.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 24, 2009 2:32 PM.

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