Best Quotes by Alan Furst

By | April 1, 2017

I love Paris for the million reasons that everybody loves the city. It’s an incredibly romantic and beautiful place.

Alan Furst

Moscow had this incredible, intense atmosphere of intrigue and darkness and secrecy.

Alan Furst

When you move a border, suddenly life changes violently. I write about nationality.

Alan Furst

People know accuracy when they read it; they can feel it.

Alan Furst

I don’t really write plots. I use history as the engine that drives everything.

Alan Furst

For me, Anthony Powell is a religion. I read ‘A Dance to the Music of Time’ every few years.

Alan Furst

Spy novels are traditionally about lone wolves, but how many people actually live like that?

Alan Furst

Le Carre’s voice – patrician, cold, brilliant and amused – was perfect for the wilderness-of-mirrors undertow of the Cold War, and George Smiley is the all-time harassed bureaucrat of spy fiction.

Alan Furst

I just became what I call an ‘anti-fascist novelist.’ There is no word that covers both the fascists and the Communists, which mean different things to people, but of course they’re the same: they’re tyranny states.

Alan Furst

Good people don’t spend their time being good. Good people want to spend their time mowing the lawn and playing with the dog. But bad people spend all their time being bad. It is all they think about.

Alan Furst

I am a historian. I do a lot of research, and I try to get it right.

Alan Furst

Venice has always fascinated me. Every country in Europe then was run by kings and the Vatican except Venice, which was basically run by councils. I’ve always wondered why.

Alan Furst

I was raised on John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series. Something about this genre – hard-boiled-private-eye-with-heart-of-gold – never failed to take me away from whatever difficulties haunted my daily world to a wonderful land where I was no more than an enthralled spectator.

Alan Furst

If you read the history of the national Socialist party, they’re all people who felt like life should have been better to them. They’re disappointed, vengeful, angry.

Alan Furst

Let me put it this way: I don’t plan to retire. What would I do, become a brain surgeon? I mean, a brain surgeon can retire and write novels, but a novelist can’t retire and do brain surgery – or at least he better not.

Alan Furst

I basically wrote five books with ‘Night Soldiers,’ called them novellas, and came in with a 600-page manuscript.

Alan Furst

If you can live in Paris, maybe you should.

Alan Furst

I’m basically an Upper West Side Jewish writer.

Alan Furst

I invented the historical spy novel.

Alan Furst

Seattle’s support system got me through those early, difficult years. It was a very funky, very friendly, very relaxed place that had it all for a writer.

Alan Furst

The best Paris I know now is in my head.

Alan Furst

I don’t just want my books to be about the ’30s and ’40s. I want them to read as if they had been written then. I think of them as ’40s novels, written in the conservative narrative past.

Alan Furst

You can’t make accommodations in crucial situations and be heroic.

Alan Furst

You write a lot of books; you hope you get better.

Alan Furst

I have a very serious censorship office inside my head; it censors things that I could tell you that you would never forget, and I don’t want to be the person to stick that in your brain.

Alan Furst

My novels are about the European reality, not about chases. You want chases, get somebody else’s books.

Alan Furst

I grew up reading genre writers, and to the degree that Eric Ambler and Graham Greene are genre writers, I’m a genre writer.

Alan Furst

I read very little contemporary anything.

Alan Furst

I don’t inflict horrors on readers. In my research, I’ve uncovered truly terrible documentations of cruelty and torture, but I leave that offstage. I always pull back and let the reader imagine the details. We all know to one degree or another the horrors of war.

Alan Furst

I’m not really a mass market writer.

Alan Furst

If you’re a writer, you’re always working.

Alan Furst

Once you have your characters, they tell you what to write, you don’t tell them.

Alan Furst

I write what I call ‘novels of consolation’ for people who are bright and sophisticated.

Alan Furst

I expect that my readers have been to Europe, I expect them to have some feeling for a foreign language, I expect them to have read books – there are a lot of people like that! That’s my audience.

Alan Furst

Whether you like it or not, Paris is the beating heart of Western civilisation. It’s where it all began and ended.

Alan Furst

The idea that someone is going to write me, and I’m not going to answer – I was just raised not to do that. We are the result of our upbringing, and my upbringing was very much to meet obligations… You just didn’t let things go.

Alan Furst

It takes me three months of research and nine months of work to produce a book. When I start writing, I do two pages a day; if I’m gonna do 320, that’s 160 days.

Alan Furst

My grandmother, whom I adored, and who partly raised me, loved Liberace, and she watched Liberace every afternoon, and when she watched Liberace, she’d get dressed up and put on makeup because I think she thought if she could see Liberace, Liberace could see her.

Alan Furst

I don’t work Sunday any more… The Sabbath is a very reasonable idea. Otherwise, you work yourself to death.

Alan Furst

I started out when I was 29 – too young to write novels. I was broke. I was on unemployment insurance. I was supposed to be writing a Ph.D. dissertation, so I had a typewriter and a lot of paper.

Alan Furst

I wrote three mysteries and then a contemporary spy novel that was unbelievably derivative – completely based on ‘The Conversation,’ the movie with Gene Hackman. Amazingly, the character in the book looks exactly like… Gene Hackman.

Alan Furst

What you get in the Cold War is ‘the wilderness of mirrors’ where you have to figure out what’s good and what’s evil. That’s good for John le Carre, but not me.

Alan Furst

Anthony Powell taught me to write; he has such brilliant control of the mechanics of the novel.

Alan Furst

I write about the period 1933-42, and I read books written during those years: books by foreign correspondents of the time, histories of the time written contemporaneously or just afterwards, autobiographies and biographies of people who were there, present-day histories of the period, and novels written during those times.

Alan Furst

When I read period material – and it ain’t on Google – I am always alert for that one incredible detail. I’ll read a whole book and get three words out of it, but they’ll be three really good words.

Alan Furst

In the 1930s, there were so many different conflicts going on between the British, the French, the Russians, the Germans, the Spaniards, the Romanians and so on.

Alan Furst

What I discovered is I don’t like to repeat lead characters because one of the most pleasurable things in a book to me is learning about the lead.

Alan Furst

You have to have heart’s passion to write a novel.

Alan Furst

A book must have moral purpose to be any good. Why, I don’t know.

Alan Furst

I am there to entertain. I call my work high escape fiction; it’s high, it’s good – but it’s escape, and I have no delusions about that. I have no ambition to be a serious writer, whatever that means.

Alan Furst

Poland is a wildly dramatic and tragic story. It’s just unbelievable what went on with those people. How they survive, I don’t really know. The Germans had a particular hatred for the Poles; they really considered them subhuman Slavs, and they were very brutal to them.

Alan Furst

Romantic love, or sex, is the only good thing in a life that is being lived in a dark way.

Alan Furst

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