Fans of a good thriller are always excited the next installment of the adventures of the favourite protagonist. And that includes fans of Émile Cinq-Mars. As Seven Days Dead is about to be released, author ‘John Farrow’ gives some insights to his work.
1) First off, can you give a bit of an outline for Seven Days Dead?
2) How long did it take to write the book? Was there much research involved in writing it?
The first part of the question is always something of an impossible question, for the simple reason that there’s the time between writing the first and last sentences, and then there’s the time when the story jostles for position in the writer’s head and goes through innumerable confabulations before a word ever hits the page. I don’t want to know what happens before I write a novel, but I do want to sense the depth of mood and wonder that’s possible. In this case, I was considering the story as a literary novel, before changing my mind and taking it over to the crime side of my work, and that was a year or so right there. I made that change because I realized that while I loved the characters that were popping forth, none of them had what it takes to do a novel’s heavy lifting—and that’s where my Detective Émile Cinq-Mars gave me a eureka moment and came to the rescue. Once he entered the fray everything spun together and the actual writing process was probably inside of six months. In any case, I wrote two novels in one twelve-month period that year, and this was one of them.
3) Have fans of Émile Cinq-Mars been waiting for this book? If somebody hasn’t read any of the earlier books, would they be able to read this book or should they start with one of the earlier ones?
4) Are you planning any public readings of “Seven Days Dead?” If yes, are there any dates or events that you are excited to do?
I’ve still promoting the previous book. Just back from Edmonton and Vancouver, for instance, and I have a couple of book clubs and one high school visit in the offing locally and in Ottawa. A small New England tour of bookstores will come up early in the new book’s life, and I have the Boucheron festival in New Orleans in the fall, but after that it’s wait and see. I’m hoping for festival invitations. I love public readings though. For River City, I did a tour with a musician, and what I’d love to do with this one is a tour which combines storytelling with readings. We shall see. Everything is still in flux.
5) Is there much difference between the writing styles of “John Farrow” and “Trevor Ferguson?” If yes, explain.
6) Are you working on anything new right now? If yes, are there details you can share?
criminals who made his life interesting back in the old days. So a former time will be visited in the present and cause havoc.
7) Has your writing changed at all since your first book? If yes, explain.
From my first literary novel, the change has been night and day. Between books one and two I had to rewire my brain to alter the way words come out onto the page. Initially, I was on a quest for a musical, driven, rhythmic language, one that was highly accessible, and I was quite surprised to discover that some readers found it difficult. So I went back to the drawing board. In terms of my crime novels, they have also changed, mainly due to the variance in content. The police procedurals (City of Ice; Ice Lake, River City) demanded a very broad canvas and great intricacy and complexity, and there was always much to do with the backstabbing and betrayals within a department and within the broader bureaucracy and social order. Now that he’s out on his own, Émile Cinq-Mars is freer to follow both his own moral compass and his peculiar intuition. He need not satisfy the demands of procedure and the dictates of bosses. So in a real way he’s more involved in the communities he’s coming into contact with, while following his own rather ample nose more directly. I’m finding that that is creating novels that are a tad less complicated although the storytelling is equally intricate and possibly more intimate.