Interview – 1 book in 5 questions : A Dark and Broken Heart – R.J. Ellory

An interview with R.J. Ellory about his book : 

A Dark and Broken Heart


English cover / French cover

My review (in French)

This is a bit of a feat you realize by making us feel so much empathy for such a bad guy. Was it your original goal to bring us into the life and mind of a true anti-hero?

My original goal was to create a charater who was the anti-thesis of Frank Parrish in Saints of New York. Frank was a good guy, a man of character and decency in a crazy world. His personal life was a disaster, but somehow he managed to keep his personal integrity, and he always did what he believed was right, even for people he did not know. Madigan was the opposite.

On the surface he was a good cop – competent and effective – but beneath the facade he was a man with no moral compass. I wanted to create a scenario where no matter what Madigan did to resolve his situation, it just became progressively worse and worse. I wanted the book to be a real journey into darkness and desperation.

When my editor first read it, he said it was like a Shakespearean tragedy on crack. I guess that’s the effect I wanted to create!

With this novel, you changed your writing style to suit to the character. As a writer, do you need to challenge yourself in order to be inspired?

I think I do that with all my novels. The writing style in A quiet belief in angels is very different from A simple act of violence. Also with Bad Signs  the style was very much orientated toward the road movie 1960s atmopshere that I was trying to create.

I think I am always challenging msyelf, always trying to do something different. I think it’s my job to not only keep a reader entertained, but also myself. I am very passionate and focused about what I do, and I will only write a book if I am inspired and excited by the subject matter. I also believe that without a personal challenge you will not write something that challenges a reader.

As has been said, banality and conformity are the suburbs of Hell! I want to do new things, try new things, take risks and stretch myself creatively. Writing a book can be a process that lasts several weeks or months, so you need to be interested in the subject too otherwise the writing will lose energy and momentum.

This story is just one of a loss of faith…

It is, but it is also a story about the fundamental goodness of Man. I think that Madigan even in his worst times, was always trying to be good. Somehow, some way, he believed he could make it right, that he could fix things, that he could repair the damage he had done and make amends.

It is his quest for redemption and salvation, and you go with him, always believing that it will come out right in the end.

Nothing is really all white or all black in this story. Can everyone hope for redemption, according to you?

I believe so, yes. I believe we create our own Heaven and Hell right here. I believe we are all basically good but some people get so trapped by the madness around them, the madness within them, that they forget their humanity and return to some sort of basic ‘kill or be killed’ mentality, even when there is no real threat in the environment.

It seems to me that people spend their lives fighting and arguing with people and situations that are not at all what they appear to be. The real battles for a human being are internal, not external.

Your story is constantly surprising and full of twists. Had you them all in mind before you start writing the novel?

No, not at all.

As with all my books, there is very little preparation. I did not write a synopsis or outline. I began with the idea of this character and the basic theme of the book, and I just started writing.

The details of the plot, the twists and turns, all came about in the writing process itself.

Catégories :Interviews littéraires

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3 réponses

  1. dealerdelignes – passionnée de lecture et de cinéma ,trés envie de partager mes deux addictions avec vous ;-)

    Et comment je fais pour la traduction ?!!!

    • Yvan – Strasbourg – Les livres, je les dévore. Tout d’abord je les dévore des yeux en librairie, sur Babelio ou sur le net, Pour ensuite les dévorer page après page. Pour terminer par les re-dévorer des yeux en contemplant ma bibliothèque. Je suis un peu glouton. Qui suis-je : homme, 54 ans, Strasbourg, France

      Tu vas lire la version française qui est sur le blog aussi 😉

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