Thank you John for answering these questions for the blog!
If you'd like to know more about John Connolly and his books click here to go to his website or come in and meet him in the shop on November 10th!
1. How did the character of Charlie Parker form for you? Did you write some unpublished stories about him first, create extensive notes about him, or was the process more organic and he has slowly come into focus for you throughout the series?
I'm not much for planning in advance. I started the series - and my fictional writing, after years of writing only journalism - with what became the prologue to Every Dead Thing. I just knew that it would concern a man who loses everything, and both the grief and the terrible liberation that might come with that. After all, if the worst happens to you, then what have you got left to fear?
2. Christie is said to have loathed Poirot from very early on in his career. Do you like Charlie Parker as well now as you did in the beginning?
I understood him from the beginning, which is the important thing. I knew why he was the way that he was. There are two responses to great trauma. One is to want others to suffer like you have done, or at least not to be unduly troubled if they do suffer, because you want others to feel the way that you do, and understand your pain, and suffer a little too. Then there are those who, because of their own suffering, will do anything in their power to prevent others from suffering as they have, and the name we give to that is empathy, I think. Parker starts out in Every Dead Thing as the first kind of individual, but ends the book as the second.
3. Christie wrote in a series of notebooks where she honed ideas for her mysteries, and a number of unpublished short stories were found within them. When you pass on at the ripe old age of 147 do you think scholars are going to find a trunk full of unpublished works - a western, poetry, cozy or perhaps the Great American novel (hehehe since you know you're Irish)? Since you are known for writing short stories and such (or at least among us)...
No, I tend to be very disciplined about my work, and I leave nothing unfinished. Everything I've written has been published. No, hang on: there was one story for Nocturnes which I set aside because it didn't quite work, but that's it. My cupboard will provide poor food for scholars when I pass on.
4. What do you find it easier to work on, short stories, novellas or full length novels?
They're all very different disciplines. Realistically, the novel is most difficult because of its length, and the discipline and commitment required to finish it, especially in the face of the doubts about its value that a writer will always have while working on it. As for short stories, the more of them I write, the easier they become, but I tend to go through phases with them. I've been fortunate to have had a few ideas for them over the past year or so, but until then I really had written very few of them since Nocturnes.
5. You have written non-fiction, young adult, kids and adult fiction - which would say is the most difficult to write? And Why?
I tend to approach them all in the same way. Whatever I write tends to be the thing that is nagging at me most profoundly at the time, and I view it simply as the book that has to be written. The issue with books for younger readers is that they are adults in the process of formation (we're all adults in the process of formation, though, or should be), and they're not as far along that path as the rest of us. On the other hand, they haven't given in to the moral grey areas that adults occupy, and their concepts of justice and injustice are less equivocal and compromised than ours. The difficulty comes AFTER the books have been written. Younger readers don't read reviews, don't look at book posters on subways, and when you go to a school to talk to them, you're just about better than math, at least until you start talking, and then math may start to look more appealing. I think you have to work harder to bring young readers in, but it's very fulfilling if and when you do.
6. How did you tackle putting together all the pieces for Books To Die For? For Bonus Points: How did the idea for this great book on books come about? And is there a sequel in the works?
It was the hardest thing I've ever done, and I think Declan and Clair would say the same. The real difficulty lay in having to fact-check all of the essays, and put together bios of the authors in question. That was hugely time-consuming. As for the idea, I think we just wanted to give readers a basic guide to the genre, and writers seemed like the best people to ask. I don't think a sequel is a runner, really, although I do wish that we'd managed to pull in more writers for whom English wasn't a first language. Books To Die For was aimed at a very niche market, and will never make any money for the publishers. Everyone involved did it as a labor of love, which is great. These things are good for the soul.
7. Agatha Christie is called the queen of poisons since she used them often. Do you have preferred method of murder in your books? And why?
Gosh, I've never really thought about that - which is probably a good thing. Because my novels have a hint of the metaphysical or supernatural to them, I think I can get away with doing some things that a more traditional mystery would tend to shun. The Wolf in Winter has a pretty unusual death about three-quarters of the way in. I don't think I've ever encountered one similar to it in another mystery, for good or bad...
8. While not an extensive reader of Christie's mysteries, is there any book or solution of hers you wish you'd thought of first?
I think we all look at The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and consider it a marvel of narration. Okay, there is some sleight of hand involved, but still...
9. How do you think Christie influenced the modern mystery novel?
Surprise. We all want to wrong-foot the reader to some degree, and have him or her finish the novel with the sense that, well, they hadn't seen coming whatever the end was...
10. Any Final Words?
Don't trust anyone who dismisses Christie. She was far more subversive than she's often given credit for, but in many ways the least interesting thing about her books is the solution.
Monday November 10th at Noon - John Connolly signs The Wolf in Winter
Prosperous, ME, is as wealthy as it sounds and guards itself carefully. It doesn’t accept strangers, only begrudgingly allowing tourists to come to look at the ancient church, moved there and reconstructed stone by stone, from England. But there is something ugly and morbid going on – a dead hobo and a missing girl – and PI Charlie Parker is heading their way. The results ripple far and wide. 12th in the series by the Irishman, a series highly recommeded by JB, Fran, and Adele.