Lunch with a Coyote

Standard

A daughter disappears in the middle of the night. What happens in the aftermath of this tragedy-after the search is abandoned, after the TV crews move on to cover the latest horrific incident-is the story of Coyote. There is a marriage and a detective. There is a storm, a talk show host, and a roasted boar. People are murdered and things are hidden. Coyotes skulk in the woods, a man stands by the fence, and a tale emerges within this familiar landscape of the violent unknown.

Today I went out for lunch to pamper myself a little and find a quiet place to read.

My book of choice was the novella Coyote by Colin Winnette. It turned out it was a good job I had ordered a cold sandwich, and not something hot to eat…

From the opening page I was enthralled and I sat engrossed for just two short hours while I completely devoured this book. It was mesmerising. I’ve spent the afternoon reflecting on it and I know it’s going to take some time and probably a second read to process it properly.

In Coyote, we watch the parents of a missing child disconnect and reconnect over and over following the unexplained disappearance of their young daughter. It’s an aftermath that is heartbreaking, haunting, and one that feels entirely all too real.

Through the eyes of the mother we are told in short sharp bursts, the blunt edged truth of a life of loss once the media circus has died, when “the world”, no longer cares that this couple have lost a child. She is the perfect narrator for this tale, with a voice so easily identified with, telling of the times she would think badly of her daughter, despite her fierce, protective love for her.

Coyote is a straight to the bone, depiction of a breakdown, with a tragedy thrown in to boot. In my mind it’s quite simply a book you will either get completely and love, or feel confused and not.  Either way, it’s a story that is going to stay with you for some time.  I know it will with me.

 

Advertisements

Anthony Quinn:- The nuances of using fact to create fiction

Standard

Anthony Quinn, author of critically acclaimed debut novel Disappeared, returns with his new novel, The Blood-Dimmed Tide, the first in a series of three historical novels set in Ireland during WWI and the War of Independence. Here he talks to LifeOfCri.me about the nuances of using fact to create fiction.

AQ photo from Mysterious PressI’m very much a believer in writing first and researching later. The danger of writing historical fiction is that as a writer you run the risk of disappearing down a wormhole into another era, never making it back with a clear-cut, compelling tale to relate. I’ve been obsessed with WB Yeats and the Sligo setting for years, and in writing The Blood Dimmed Tide the temptation was to succumb to excess and include a rich tapestry of historical minutia.

However, writing historical fiction, especially a mystery story, should be like steering a boat with a leak in high seas. Many loved items have to be chucked overboard with every page you write. Amusing anecdotes and fascinating details that don’t animate your principal characters and move the plot along have to be discarded with impunity.

For this reason, I resorted to thumbing through Yeats’ biographies only when there was a gap in the plot that desperately needed filling, or a scene that required fleshing out with something concrete. That sense of urgency which comes with keeping the literary boat from capsizing at all costs is a protection against procrastination and getting lost in the past.

Another great challenge in writing The Blood Dimmed Tide was remaining faithful to the historical record of Yeats and his life-long muse Maud Gonne. I was uneasy with the idea that I was possibly doing them a great disservice by entangling them in a plot involving occult societies, spies, smugglers and corrupt policemen.

However, Yeats has been much derided for his ‘creepy’ obsession with the supernatural, and his interest in the magical powers that might be acquired through esoteric knowledge has alarmed many literary critics over the years. It eased my conscience to think that I was at least portraying this side of his character sympathetically. This was what I promised WB Yeats at the start of writing The Blood Dimmed Tide. Whether or not I delivered is another matter.

Blood Dimmed jacket

I hope I am saved by the fact that many of Yeats’ friends found him unknowable. Irish writer Sean O’Faolain famously said of him: “There was no Yeats. I watched him invent himself.” In that sense, he is impossible to capture within the covers of a biography, which is a great problem for his biographers, but a golden opportunity for a novelist.

Yeats will always remain an enigma. He was one of a group of extraordinary and mesmerising figures that made London at the turn of the century an emporium of exotic cults and psychic societies. He was the closest thing we have to a supernatural sleuth, always seeking answers, always probing the evidence before him, always odd and unpredictable in his behaviour – which I hope makes him the perfect hero for a mystery story, especially one that involves ghosts, spies, smugglers and corrupt policemen.

The Blood Dimmed Tide is published by No Exit Press and is available now in paperback and as an e-book.

Dagger In The Library Long List Announced

Standard

Dagger-in-the-Library-300x320

And the nominees are…….

MC Beaton (Constable & Robinson)
Tony Black (Black and White Publishing)
Sharon Bolton (Transworld Publishers)
Elly Griffiths (Quercus)
Mari Hannah (Pan)
James Oswald (Michael Joseph)
Phil Rickman (Corvus)
Leigh Russell (No Exit Press)
Mel Sherratt (Thomas & Mercer)
Neil White (Sphere)

 

1,384 people voted for 636 different authors, resulting in a huge variety of crime writing styles being highlighted this year.  I know who I would like to see picking up the award this year.  How about you?