Interview with Phil Hughes

We are here to discuss your latest novel, The Mediocre Baker.


I enjoyed the novel immensely, but I know your readers will ask “what qualifies you to write about Southern Italy”?

I lived for years just north of Naples. I saw a lot of stuff. Lots of material for my books.

Such as?

I can’t go into too much, but a simple example is my motorcycle was stolen and returned the same day by “a friend”. I watched Berlusconi being arrested for corruption while hosting the G7 summit at Castel Dell’Ovo, in Naples, where the main topic was corruption and organized crime. An unauthorized drug dealer was kneecapped while sitting at the same table as me outside the local bar. The local boss asked me to go out on a Zodiac to collect contraband. I can say this, because he has since passed away with throat cancer, stereotypical straw hat and voice box. Just simple examples. Believe me when I say there are many more.

You must have been there a long time. How long is “for years”?


I suppose you became quite integrated in that time.

Yes. We were hugely popular from early on.


There was an anomaly in that my partner and I both spoke Italian. The usual foreigners around Naples, are military, US and UK forces, at least they were. They don’t tend to have the inclination to learn the language, knowing they won’t use it on their next posting. The locals liked that we took the time to learn.

There’s a lot of humour in the story. Can you explain your thinking behind it?

There’s a lot to laugh at. Believe it or not, when an area is so inherently violent and passionate, humour is part of the package. I guess it has a lot to do with the pathos. If you can’t laugh, then crying is the only other alternative.

I have heard your books likened to those of Andrea Camilleri. What’s your take on that?

Yes, I’ve heard those comparisons. I suppose they are similar. I have my own Montalbano in Inspector Laconto. He doesn’t feature in The Mediocre Baker, but will be back for the next one, The Alcoholic Mercenary, due out in the spring. My books are set around Naples, rather than Sicily, but there are still the comparisons, I guess.

When is it releasing?

The Mediocre Baker releases on Christmas day. It is available for pre-order from all participating Amazon Marketplaces. The following are links to the UK and US versions:

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