UK crime novelist Christopher Fowler talks to us about commuting from London to Barcelona
CF: What made you decide to buy a property in Barcelona?
CF: I’d always liked the cosmopolitan feel of the city. Cheap fast flights (easyjet etc) and late dining hours meant I could come on Friday night after work and still be in time for dinner, leaving on Sunday night. Property prices were good value, and there were several areas I loved which I wanted to check out. The Born was changing, partly because of the renovation of the Mercat, and the flat was perfect for my needs.
CF: Did you know the city before you chose to buy?
CF: Only from a few short visits, and clubbing when I was younger.It got better (cleaner and safer) after the Olympics.
CF: Previously you lived in the South of France, why did you decide to change your European base from France to Spain? How does living in Spain compare to living in France?
CF: France changed in the ten years I was there. Property in the South grew scarce and overpriced. My nearest town, Beaulieu, became filled with wealthy Russians, and prices soared. Amenities closed, and there was a lot more crime. A simple taxi from the airport ending up costing the earth.
CF: You have bought a period Old Town property in the beautiful el Borne district of Barcelona, what attracted you to this particular apartment?
CF: Even though the area was far from finished, I could see work being done on it, and felt sure it would look beautiful when completed. The apartment was a ‘lock-and-leave’, local shopping was good, and the Born is between the park and the sea – a perfect location.
CF: Can you tell us a bit about the renovation project? What major changes did you make, how did you decide what you wanted to do and did you have the help of a designer?
CF: The original layout was unworkable, but the beauty of many of the places we saw was that their interiors could be easily altered. We wanted to add a bedroom and open up the central space for a central kitchen. We met with a couple of big design companies who weren’t right for the job. While we were out walking in Gracia, we passed a small shop run by a husband-and-wife team. They came and quoted, and shared our ideas. The project came in ahead of time and under budget. We’ll be using them again.
CF: As a writer, you obviously need to be in a place which inspires your writing, how does your new Barcelona apartment do this as well as the city itself?
CF: Interestingly, our London flat is a bright minimalist space in a dark city, and the Barcelona flat is a dark space in a bright city. I changed my working hours around to suit local habits, and work largely at night there. As long as I have a laptop I can work anywhere. And my broadband speed is faster in Barcelona.
CF: For those who are unfamiliar with Barcelona and specifically the el Borne district, can you describe what you think makes it special?
CF: It’s for ‘Downtown’ people. Uptown is for bankers and business folk and kids, but I love the old-town mix of artists, culture, shabby-chic style – and closeness to the sea. Amazing restaurants, friendly people, lots to do on days of (rare) bad weather. I think each area has a style of its own. I like Raval and Poble Nou very much too
CF: You are a prolific writer of crime novels, most of which are focused on London. Could you ever foresee a series of crime novels with Barcelona as a backdrop?
CF: My next novel is in fact set in Spain, and I imagine setting several more here. I love the way people can simply hang out outdoors – we can’t do that in London
CF: If people are interested in finding out more about your writing and novels, where should they look?
CF: My Bryant & May thrillers are all currently available, and you can visit my website at www.christopherfowler.co.uk