An interview with Paul Cleave about his book Trust no one
(Original cover / French cover)
This novel is a One shot. Did you want to detach yourself from your usual characters?
I’ve been wanting to write a stand-alone novel for some time now – I wanted to challenge myself to move away from my usual characters. However in this case it was more that the story I wanted to write wasn’t going to work with the other characters I have. I did have to detach somewhat from them – however this was easy to do because the main character in this book is based on me. That’s what makes this book so personal to me. I mean – his alzheimers and whether or not he’s killing people isn’t based on me – but his life is a little like my life. Okay, so his wife and daughter aren’t based on my life either since I don’t have a wife or daughter… but his writing life is like my life. He spends his days with music turned up loud trying to make crazy and dark things happen on the page. We both go on tour, we both fear our editors aren’t going to like our new books, we fear letting people down. None of this would have worked as well as it has if I’d tried to put Tate or Schroder or Joe in there.
Your main character is suffering from Alzheimer disease. It’s a delicate theme, but it allows you to develop a beautifully complex plot. Was it a real challenge to mix reality and fiction?
It was challenging, yes. There’s a lot of story to hold on to. Usually I make a few notes when I’m working – I have a notepad on my desk – and I certainly wrote more than I ever have for this book. I had all these time lines to manage, and I had to keep setting things up in the diary chapters to reveal them in the ‘now’ chapters, and then I had to set things up in the ‘now’ chapters to reveal them in the diary chapters. Or, as Jerry would call it, a journal. It was a really complicated book to write – and I loved every moment of it. My goal was to write a story that’s funny and heartbreaking and clever – and I want people to finish it and continue to think about those characters, and I think I’ve managed to do that.
The descriptions you make of the disease are frightening. Have you done a lot of research on this?
Actually, no. I spend about ten minutes on wikipedia reading about Alzheimers. But we all know the kinds of stories people have with that disease – and it was just a matter of making up similar ones. I did come out of this book scared of ever getting it – I always knew Alzheimers was bad, but I never knew how bad. I went into it thinking it was mostly about memory – mostly about forgetting. What I learned when I did read up on it was that it’s also about remembering things that didn’t happen, it’s about paranoia, and it’s about frustration. It was important for the story to give Jerry and caring family so you could see how difficult this disease is through the way they’re trying to help him.
We really feel this is your most personal book, is it right?
(I’ve put this answer into the first question)
Even with such a difficult subject, you can also laugh. Your very black humor has never been as present as in this book. This is also the one for which you had the most amusement in writing?
Thanks, Yvan – it’s always such a compliment when I hear people are laughing with the books as well. I try hard to get a lot of humor in there – and with this one I definitely laughed a lot while writing it. I mean, Alzheimers is cruel – but it gave me so many situations I could put Jerry into where you can’t help but laugh. I’ve laughed a lot with Joe over the years when I’ve written about him, but I certainly laughed a lot more with Jerry.
Catégories :Interviews littéraires