He made it clear that, at 88, he’s still got a lot of crime writing left in him. Camilleri was born and raised in Sicily and writes in a mixture of
Italian and Sicilian. His novels are populated with a host of characters
and settings, including corrupt politicians, illegal trash dumps, goat
herders, the underground sex trade and, of course, the Mafia.
Camilleri’s alter ego is Inspector Salvo Montalbano, the protagonist of
more than a dozen novels published in English by Picador and Mantle.
The fictional Montalbano also lives in Sicily. Born in 1950, the
fictional Montalbano is getting on in years too. And, like his creator
Camilleri, he has no plans of retiring. “He feels older than he is because he’s spent his whole life surrounded by imbeciles,” Camilleri told the Madrid newspaper ABC. “That’s what 90% of criminals are, and if you live
surrounded by imbeciles, life isn’t very nice, but he’s terrified of
retirement. What will he do? Walk the dog?” Camilleri told his Spanish audiences that he writes every morning in
his home in Sicily, sending his aging protagonist into battle. And he
has a unique method for fighting writer’s block. “When I don’t have any ideas I might write a letter, for example, to a
man I’ve just encountered at a kiosk. It’s a letter I know I’ll never
send, but it serves as an exercise. Without that, you get stuck. What’s
behind writing? It’s not that the artist writes when he gets inspiration
-- it’s the work of each day.” The Pepe Carvalho prize is named after the protagonist of the Spanish
writer Manuel Vázquez Montalbán’s detective novels. Camilleri named his protagonist after Montalbán. Reviewing Camilleri's most recent novel, "The Age of Doubt," the Daily Telegraph wrote of the fictional Montalbano:
"It's hard not to like a man whose main loves are wry humor, eating and
womanizing -- even though his advancing years are causing him some
self-doubt with the latter. And, as always, his next favorite pastime is
antagonizing his superiors"