All C. J. Sansom Novels

About C. J. Sansom

C. J. Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA and then a Ph.D. in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex, until becoming a full-time writer. He lives in Sussex.

Q&A with C. J. Sansom

What makes you smile?

The many harmless sillinesses of human beings, not least myself.


 What book do you wish you had written and why?

Jurassic Park. It’s such a simple, brilliant idea.


If you could be any figure from history who would you be?

Clement Attlee, one of the great British prime ministers. 


What’s your favourite place in the world?



 What’s your favourite time of day?

Early morning.  I am a ‘morning person’ and do most of my work then.

Are you superstitious?



Which living person do you most admire?

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan leader.  He is trying to do something for his people, and standing out against Bush’s US and the free-market policies which have done so much damage to Latin America.


What keeps you awake at night?

Insomnia, which I suffer from, I can’t settle if my mind is active.  I usually read something i've read before for half an hour, like a political biography - anything fairly dull.

Which writers, if any, do you think have influenced your work?

H. G. Wells as a child; Graham Greene, John le Carré and John Steinbeck.


Who are your favourite fictional detectives?

Morse; Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander series; Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison on TV.


What did you find were the main differences between writing novels in your Shardlake series, and a standalone novel such as Winter in Madrid?

You don't have a framework of characters and settings in a standalone; and in Winter in Madrid there were three third-person narrators, not one first-person narrator. That gives you a great deal more freedom, but it is harder work.


Do you have a long-term 'vision' for the Shardlake series or do you just plan the books one by one?

I plan the books one by one. I don't like tying myself down too much where future plans are concerned. I have an idea - only an idea - that having done a "closed setting" mystery with Dissolution, a "quest" with Dark Fire, a "political thriller" with Sovereign, and a serial killer novel with Revelation.


Do you have a favourite of the Shardlake novels so far?

I think Sovereign.


Would you always want to write fiction with a historical setting, or can you see yourself writing a novel set in the present day?

I've never really felt the urge to write a modern novel - but never say never

BBC Front Row Interview with Mark Lawson

Listen to C.J. Sansom speaking to Mark Lawson on BBC Radio 4's Front Row.

Listen to the interview on the BBC website >