Q&A: My Hampstead Garden Suburb with journalist and author Neil Behrmann
PUBLISHED: 17:00 18 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:07 15 June 2018
Journalist Neil Behrmann was London correspondent for various South African newspapers and is the author of the financial thriller, Jack of Diamonds.
Why did you choose to live in Hampstead Garden Suburb?
It’s one of the most beautiful areas in London; especially when gardens begin to bloom. The suburb feels like country but isn’t far from central London. Hampstead Heath and Big Wood are close by, shops are within walking distance. The H2 bus is a boon.
You feature Muswell Hill and Highgate in your novel Jack of Diamonds. Why these areas?
I began writing the book when we lived in Muswell Hill. Walks helped me with scenes. The Russian Trade Delegation is based in Highgate and several oligarchs live there. Jack learns about a Russian Mafioso’s life and nefarious deeds in Highgate’s Kiplings Indian restaurant. He runs through Highgate and Queens Wood with his police trained Alsatian. Jack and his girlfriend listen to romantic music at Alexandra Park’s Grove Café.
What inspired you to write about Jack of Diamonds?
I was brought up in a South African mining town, so gold, gems and geology are in my DNA. I have written numerous articles on diamonds for the Wall Street Journal, South African, Australian and Asian publications. The story germinated when some Western mine developers were ousted in Russia. Travels to Archangelsk, Moscow and St Petersburg, broadened the story and characters.
Who are the most inspiring people you’ve met?
I was London correspondent for several courageous South African editors, who exposed the Apartheid regime. They include Ray Louw, Rand Daily Mail, Tony Heard, Cape Times, Donald Woods, Daily Despatch, and London editor Stanley Uys. Watson Chirwa, Mail librarian, fought hard to educate his children during the Soweto revolution.
What are you lookinig forward to for the rest of this year?
Good plays, films, music, travel, tennis, cricket and the World Cup.