As far as research goes, I try to keep that to a bare minimum. Visits to
Grand Manan now and again over the years was all I needed to really to let the
novel take flight. After that it was a matter of getting the place names right,
and improve my knowledge of the flora, fauna and fish life. I also investigated
the geographic history which has a place in this novel. A principal cliff on the
island, for instance, is called Seven Days Work, from which my title sprung.
The fact that it’s among the oldest visible protrusions on the planet was built
into the story.
Anyone can dive right in. Nor has it been such a long wait for anyone, as Book
1 of the trilogy was out last May (’15) and this is on the shelves this May. Book
3 is due in May, 2017. The books form a thematic trilogy, so they can be read
independently of one another, yet they work best if read in sequence in terms
of ongoing personal matters. For instance, the Cinq-Mars marriage is on the
ropes, and manages a certain progression from book to book. Cinq-Mars drives
a Jeep in The Storm Murders and a Cadillac in the third book (the title of which
is being reconsidered). How that transpired (it wasn’t pretty) is learned in
Seven Days Dead. So, that sort of thing, but it’s important to me that a reader
can pick up any book and not be at a disadvantage. The much earlier books
focus on Cinq-Mars’s police career, the newer ones pick up after his retirement,
so they are quite different that way. And the third of that very first batch, is
actually a prequel. So any order will do.
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.
To start with, even Trevor Ferguson has different writing styles. I don’t think
anyone would suspect that the same writer penned both my northwest
wilderness novels and my idiosyncratic urban novels were it not for my name
being on the cover. There’s a huge difference between those styles, but perhaps
less of a difference between the urban TFs and the crime JFs. The tone though
is broadly divergent. By design, the tone of the thriller/crime books leans more
heavily upon atmosphere and foreboding, and there’s a necessity to build-in
the narrative drive to a more feverish pitch. Storytelling, though, is the
hierarchy in both styles, it’s just that the crime novels are more direct, the
literary books more uniquely “voiced” to suit their narrators, and the author’s
intentions. Of course, somebody always dies early in the crime novels. I think that only happened once on the literary side.
6) Are you working on anything new right now? If yes, are there details you can share?
As mentioned, the third in the trilogy will be out in a year or so. The next book
after that is also complete and is called A Patient Death. I expect it to be out in
2018. It’s also a Cinq-Mars novel and follows from the trilogy, this time in the
State of New Hampshire which is his wife’s ancestral home. Finally, there’s a
break in the weather after the the storms that contribute so much to the
What comes next is another Cinq-Mars novel and it’s at too early a stage
for me to talk about it. If all goes well it takes him back to Montreal and the
Quebec countryside, and, no guarantees, but I expect it will involve a return of
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.