Author Focus: Crime Writer, Timothy Williams

Timothy Williams was born in Essex in the London borough of Walthamstow in 1946. He grew up loving typewriters and while still at primary school typed his own magazine. More than twenty five years later, he was finally able to buy the electrical typewriter of his dreams, an Olivetti Praxis. However he soon gave up the Olivetti for an Apple IIe, after he realised that a computer was a better tool for his creative writing.

He went to Chigwell School in Essex. After two years of moral philosophy and French at the University of St Andrews, he graduated in French.

He taught in the Caribbean, France, Italy and Romania before settling in Guadeloupe in 1980 where he spent 28 years teaching at the state lycée in Pointe à Pitre, the island’s biggest town.

Williams’s first Italian novel, Converging Parallels, was published in 1982. This novel was followed by five more books in the Commissario Piero Trotti series. In the early eighties, at a time when, in Guadeloupe and Martinique, terrorist bombs were going off and the independence movement was in the headlines, it took Williams two years to write his first Caribbean book. Gollancz, his British publisher, informed him the manuscript was unpublishable. An English speaking audience could understand the byzantine workings of Italy but not the racial and political niceties of the French Caribbean. The book was revised several times but it was not published until 2011, when he submitted the French manuscript to Payot Rivages in Paris. Un Autre Soleil is the first Anne Marie Laveaud novel. The English translation was subsequently published by Soho Press in New York as Another Sun in 2013.

The second Caribbean novel, The Honest Folk of Guadeloupe, was published in English in 2015.

Timothy Williams has had a long and successful writing career. In 1992 the fourth Trotti novel, Black August, won a Crime Writers’ Award. In 2011, the Observer placed him among the ten best modern European crime novelists.

Williams retired from teaching in 2011 and now spends his time between the Caribbean, Africa and Norwich, UNESCO city of literature. He visits Kenya regularly and while in Nairobi for the Storymoja Hay Festival, he had the pleasure to meet the Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor before the horrific terrorist attack at Westgate Mall.  

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