Interview – 1 book in 5 questions : Bad Signs from R.J. Ellory (English Version)

1 livre en 5 questions

1. This novel is once again different from your previous onesHow can you define this one?

Well, I wanted to write a road movie, and I wanted to write something that was very different from A Quiet Belief in Angels (Seul le Silence), but again from the viewpoint of younger people.

I wanted to tell the story of how a killer becomes one. I wanted to tell a love story as well, and I wanted a female central character that would stay with the reader long after the book had been finished.

I have always said that one of the real regrets of my life is that I didn’t have more children. I always wanted a daughter, and Bailey Redman was really the daughter I never had. She really is one of my favourite characters in any book I have written. I think she is one of the smartest and sharpest people I have ever met!

As for defining the novel, I think it is a very human story, a very emotional story, also a very violent story. It is a novel about how two people from the same background can be faced with the same set of circumstances, and yet they make completely different decisions.

It is about nature versus nurture, about how we don’t really understand the human mind and human motivations. It is about the ability to persist over all obstacles and make life work, even when faced with terrible situations.

2. This novel is probably the most violent you’ve written. Did you realize thatwhile writing it?

In its first draft, it was a lot more violent! There was no build-up to the carnage that Elliott Danziger caused, but in reading it back I wanted to create more of an arc for his destructive impulses, and hence I introduced a gradient severity to his actions.

I knew it was going to be a violent book from the start, but I wanted to write the violence in such a way as it would not horrify people, but rather give them an appreciation of what some truly disturbed individuals are capable of doing to one another.

3. The story is toughbut also deeply touchingYou never lose the emotional aspect, even during the hardest scenes…

Well, as I have always said, the most important thing for me in any book I read or write is the emotional connection. I am not concerned with whether or not people remember my name, the name of the book, even the details of the story, but I would hope that some time later they would still be able to remember how the book made them feel.

I think a story works if you can find a character within the novel that you can connect with emotionally, and that is what I am always trying to do. I also know that if I don’t connect with the characters that I create then they won’t be alive and real to the reader. I want people to feel that not only do they get to know the characters as they read the book, but also that they perhaps miss them a little when they have finished it.

4. You mainly worked the psychological depth of your characters, whether it’s major or minor characters. I can say that the result is really impressive.This seems important to you…

 Yes, of course. I want the characters to feel real. I have always said that the one difficulty I have with some novels is that there are characters – police, detectives etc. – who are always right.

No-one is always right. We all make mistakes. We all screw things up and get things wrong. That is real life. That is part of being human. I think that psychological depth in a character comes from recognizing and facing the bad parts of that person as well as the good parts. If we only ever write about what is good in a person, we are not being honest.

5. The background of the 60’s ring particularly true, how did you work on this authenticity?

 Well, this is my area of interest. This aspect of contemporary American history and culture has always been my fascination.

I think the earliest decade I have written about is the 1920s, and then I have written novels that are very contemporary.

These decades are my fascination, my passion, and I have read and studied and researched these periods for all the books I have written, and I have never lost interest in them. America is a very young country compared to Europe, and yet it has managed to leave its footprints and fingerprints all over the world. That intrigues me. That makes me want to know why. What is the appeal? What is the allure? What is it about this degraded and corrupt society that is yet so seductive?

Maybe it’s because there are great things as well – film, music, wonderful literature, and these counterbalance all the dark aspects of that culture. It is an interesting thing to write about, and I never get bored of it. I also work towards making a reader feel as though this is a very different time and a very different environment, and I hope this is done with enough authenticity for them to feel as though they can become lost in this setting.

French release : 03 october 2013

Roger, Paul Cleave and me in Saint Maur this year.

Catégories :Interviews littéraires

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8 réponses

  1. Black Kat – Ni O-, ni A- ... juste mon sang artistique, passionnément livresque...

    No comment in english, please!!! Thanks Yvan, for this good interview!!! 😉 :p

  2. Wow, an article in English, how cool 😉 I’m even more impressed than I was before!
    I read a lot in English (more than in French actually) and I’ve finally managed to create a French/English version of my blog (although it still has to be improved).
    Feel free to visit if you’re interested… (Some posts are simply translated, but the reviews are different on each version)



  3. Cool, je ne savais même pas qu’il faisait de la musique 😉


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