Thursday, 9 May 2019

John Connolly: what's in your head?

There’s a fabulous independent bookshop in Taunton called Brendon Books which always has a programme of author talks. A couple of days ago I went along to listen to John Connolly, author of the Charlie Parker detective series among others. 

Confession: I haven’t read any of the Charlie Parker books. In fact, until last week, I hadn’t read John Connolly at all. I was going to the talk with a friend who’s a huge fan and the blurb about the author was interesting.

That said, I don’t like to turn up knowing nothing, so I bought his books of short stories, Nocturnes, to get a flavour of his style. These stories are scary as hell!! And there is quite a variety of beasts and devilry going on. I couldn’t help the question that formed in my mind…what on earth is going on in his?? I was even slightly apprehensive of meeting him.

The question led me to consider a few things about the reader’s psyche, and the writer’s psyche. Back in my schooldays, in English Literature, we were taught to analyse texts. ‘Why do you think the poet used that word? What do you think the author is trying to say?’

These days, as a reader, I read primarily for pleasure, entertainment, to be taken away by a great story or immersed in fascinating characters. Although I read closely, too often with my writer head on, I don’t ask those questions anymore. Maybe it’s just more obvious to me now what an author’s message is.

As a writer, though, these questions make me nervous. Imagine a reader asking about my message, my intentions? I think on one level, that’s okay. But imagine them analysing my mind !! From this current work in progress, the reader will no doubt question me on father/daughter relationships…probably wrongly. And I was certainly asked some very odd questions about my research for my previous novel 😉

I understand that my writing is influenced by my life experiences, relationships and belief systems, but just remember another key factor- we writers make things up!

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