An interview with Glenn Cooper about his book Down – Pinhole
(Original cover/ French cover)
My review (in french)
Your novel is totally unclassifiable and really unpredictable. How would you define it if you have to introduce it in your own words?
I recognize that the trilogy is genre-bending and that’s always a challenge for an author who closely follows the market for fiction.
The series has elements of the kind of esoteric historical thrillers that I tend to write and mixes these with science fiction and a bit of fantasy. Publishers tend to shy away from hybrids such as these novels but my readers have been receptive which is the ultimate prize.
But despite the genre ambiguity, I like to think of the books, at their core, as historical thrillers, populated by real characters alongside fictional ones. The twist is that these characters inhabit an alternative universe called Hell where all the evil people who’ve ever lived on Earth are condemned to an eternity in a strange, horrible world where hope is an elusive commodity.
When I put historical figures in my other books, I try to be as faithful as I can to historical facts and accuracy. Here, I needed to understand the characters’ psychology and motivations and try to imagine how they would behave in my version of Hell.
And lastly, this is a love story, about a man who loves a woman so much he literally travels to Hell to save her from a terrible fate.
How did you get an idea as beautiful? Its infinite potential had to give you dizzy, right?
I confess to “borrowing” the concept from a far greater literary mind than myself, Dante Alighieri.
A journey to Hell and back is a simple enough plot kernel but to make it work on some kind of logical level is devilishly difficult. I’d thought about basing a novel in Hell for a while but I had to be satisfied that I had something that was unique in its message and conception.
I often write about the nature of good versus evil but this story is the ultimate vessel for exploring the enduring consequences of evil.
When I’d finished the blueprint of my Hell I realized the idea was too big for a single book, so it quickly turned into a series.
As usual, you offer a very documented novel. We can therefore have fun with a thriller while learning amazing things?
When you create an alternative world, the author has absolute power—which is fun to exercise (on paper).
You must create all the complex rules that govern the new world and then try to follow them as is they are the rules of physics that govern our world.
Then there’s the fun of doing historical research which is always my favorite part of a writing project. I read all or part of about 100 books for this project on subjects ranging from a huge span of European history to high-energy particle physics to the history of metallurgy and weapon’s production.
But your book is not that serious. I really feel that you had a lot of fun writing it, right?
You’re right about that.
It’s a mixture of serious stuff mixed in with enough humor to break through the gloom of Hell.
I have to confess that it was a bit difficult psychologically to spend three years writing about evil. The flashes of humor helped me along but it was quite depressing at times. My wife was happy when I was finished.
The three volumes are already published in English. Did you write them one after other, as one big story?
Yes, I wrote them in sequence.
The first two end in cliff-hangers intended to nudge readers to continue the saga. The titles in English (Down-Pinhole, Down-Portal, Down-Floodgate) are intended to alert the reader to the ever-widening connection between Earth and Hell and the apocalyptic climax approaching.
Catégories :Interviews littéraires
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