I’m delighted to welcome Benjamin Black to the CTG blog for today’s stop on his Even The Dead Blog Tour. Benjamin’s kindly agreed to talk about how Even The Dead came into being.
So, over to Benjamin …
The origins of a novel are deeply mysterious, or at least they are so for me. When I look back at the end of the writing I cannot remember setting out, but seem instead to have been always somehow already on my way, by some kind of rough magic. Nor do I retain any memory of the process of devising the plot: it always just seems to have been there, ready-made and waiting for me to flesh it out. Unlikely, I agree, yet that’s how it is.
I am convinced that the less research a novelist does, the better. This is, I know, a convenient attitude for a writer such as I, who believes in the supreme power of the imagination—and who has not the historian’s tolerance for old, or even new, dry documents. It’s one of the peculiarities of fiction, that what a novelist makes up is always more convincing on the page than what he takes from the actual world. Of course, the ‘actual world’ and the people in it constitute the only material the writer has to work with, or from, unless his métier is science fiction or fantasy: and even then . . .
The imagination, the concentrated act of imagining, gives life to character, plot, setting.
I am lucky in that my Quirke novels are set in the 1950s, when pathology was not the exact and intricately technical science that it is nowadays, with the consequence that my protagonist can get away with being such an amateurish professional.
‘Procedural’ novels bore me, and I would never attempt to write one. Quirke is interesting as a human being who happens to be a pathologist. And as for his old pal the Dublin detective Inspector Hackett, he could no more be a Sherlock Holmes or an Hercules Poirot than Quirke could don the white coat and rubber gloves of Patricia Cornwell’s admirable Dr Kay Scarpetta.
So where did Even the Dead originate? Search me—though the search would not turn up much. I suppose I must have started with the circumstances of a crime, and the idea of a shadowy Dublin fraternity determined to keep that crime hidden. I also had in mind an elderly chap I used to see about the streets of Dublin twenty or thirty years ago. His name was Michael O’Riordan, and he was the leader of the Irish Communist Party—a small party, as one might imagine—who as he passed me by used to roll a hard-boiled eye in my direction, seeming to know who I was. Perhaps he had read something of mine? He was generally reviled and ridiculed—I had an aunt who considered him the Devil incarnate—but I admired his fortitude and tenacity in an age of intolerance.
He it was who gave me the character of Sam Corless, Spanish Civil War veteran, leader of the Socialist Left Alliance Party, and the father of my murder victim. But by then, I was already on my way . . .
Big thanks to Benjamin Black for stopping by the CTG blog today.
EVEN THE DEAD is out on the 28th January 2016. Here’s what the blurb says: “Two victims – one dead, one missing. Even the Dead is a visceral, gritty and cinematic thriller from Benjamin Black. Every web has a spider sitting at the centre of it. Pathologist Quirke is back working in the city morgue, watching over Dublin’s dead. When a body is found in a burnt-out car, Quirke is called in to verify the apparent suicide of an up-and-coming civil servant. But Quirke can’t shake a suspicion of foul play.The only witness has vanished, every trace of her wiped away. Piecing together her disappearance, Quirke finds himself drawn into the shadowy world of Dublin’s elite – secret societies and high church politics, corrupt politicians and men with money to lose. When the trail eventually leads to Quirke’s own family, the past and present collide. But crimes of the past are supposed to stay hidden, and Quirke has shaken the web. Now he must wait to see what comes running out.”
You can pre-order it from Amazon here
To find out more about Benjamin Black hop on over on his website www.benjaminblackbooks.com and follow him on Twitter @BenBlackAuthor
And be sure to check out all the other fabulous tour stops on the EVEN THE DEAD Blog Tour …