Editorial Team have been long time readers of Irish Writer John Connolly,
so we were interested in the thoughts of his latest Charlie Parker thriller, A
Time of Torment from our reviewer John Parker; who described it in
closing as “an absolute must read”.
Read the Shots review here
and the precursor A Song of Shadows here which is out in paperback currently.
Due to John Parker’s enthusiasm for
Connolly’s 14th Charlie Parker thriller, he had some burning
questions, related to A Time of Torment, so John
Connolly kindly obliged providing additional insights which we are sharing
with our readers.
Is the name of Roger Ormsby, the Gray Man a reference
to Thayne Ormsby who murdered three people in Maine back in 2012?
No, thankfully! I tend to be very careful about names, especially
when it comes to something as awful as that. I have been known to trawl obituary
columns for possible combinations, though. It passes the time…
JP What gave you
the idea for the community of The Cut?
JC My British editor,
when she received the book, commented that it seemed to be part of my ongoing
fascination with reclusive groups, which is probably true. There is a strong
strand in American political and social thought relating to looking after one’s
own, carrying your own bucket, and accepting no obligation to society beyond
one’s own immediate dependents, or those who are most like oneself, which is kind
of anathema to me. Once we accept the right of individuals or groups to
secede from society, it begins to collapse, but it’s also poisonous for those
who have stepped away. I suppose I’m interested in exploring the
JP In the past,
you spoke of the difference between “evil” and “need and greed” in relation to
Morland in The Wolf in Winter. Does this apply to the inhabitants of The
Cut which seems to be full of the most evil people imaginable?
JC: Hmmm. You see, I don’t think of them
as evil, just as The Cut doesn’t think of itself as evil. Even with the
worst of the characters in my books, I try to find the point at which they can
justify what they do to themselves. As someone once said, everybody has
his reasons. Mostly, The Cut just wants to be left alone, but it’s been
isolated for so long that it no longer even sees – or wants to accept - the
extent of its own corruption. Well, Oberon – its leader - does, to some
degree. There’s a moment in the book, when he has the chance to
flee and leave the Cut to his fate, where I want the reader almost to empathize
with him. Oberon is beyond salvation, but in that moment there is
something noble about him, and a glimpse of what he could have been under
different circumstances. What makes him interesting isn’t his corruption,
but what has been corrupted.
JP It was great
that you brought back Alvin Martin for this novel. Do you intend to bring him
back again or any other “lost” character you have created?
JC For a long time,
I’ve been constructing the Parker novels as individual parts of a larger
narrative, so characters who feature – sometimes only briefly – in earlier
books will have their part to play as the sequence continues. That’s part
of the pleasure for me in writing the Parker novels: the chance to create
something bigger than a series of discrete books connected only by the presence
of two or three major characters. It’s one of the reasons for the change
in the narrative voice in recent books, where Parker becomes less of the focus
– because they’re no longer first person narratives – and instead is more first
among equals, or near equals.
JP It seems that
Professor Ian Williamson is destined to meet up with Charlie sometime in the future.
JC Oh, I can’t
say. There’s a game being played with the readers, and I think – I hope –
they’re enjoying it.
JP There is a
whole chapter dedicated to Jennifer Parker in the novel, while later on in the
book, Samantha demonstrates some rather unique powers. What role are the two
daughters of Charlie likely to play in the near-future?
JC Again, I can’t
really say, other than that I’ve spent a long time getting the books to this
JP Children play
an important role in the novel. In the previous novel, A Song of Shadows,
a character says, “We’re only put here to watch over the children until they’re
ready to take care of themselves.” Does this have implications for the
future of Charlie and Samantha?
JC Crikey, there’s
three in a row that I can’t really answer. What’s been lovely about the
response of readers (most of them) to the books is not that just that they want
to spend time with Parker – character being the principal reason why we read
mystery novels, I think, particularly series novels – but they want to find out
what happens next. That’s not really usual in mystery fiction. It’s
more typical of ongoing sagas in fantasy literature or science fiction.
JP Religion, pagan
or Christian, plays a big part in your books. Do you think that God, The God of
Wasps, The Green Man and the like are all part of the same thing or separate
JC The supernatural/
metaphysical/ mythological elements to the books allow me to explore that
question, I suppose. The books suggest that those entities inhabit the
same space, but are not necessarily the same being. The Dead King in A
Time of Torment has no connection to whatever lay beneath the church in
Prosperous at the heart of The Wolf in Winter. Then there are
others that are clearly linked, and form part of that larger narrative in the
books. Ultimately, though, the novels suggest that evil tends towards
isolation. Goodness is collaborative.
JP I think there
are nods to the Tooth Fairy from Thomas Harris’s “Manhunter” and to the Yellow
King in Nic
Pizzolatto’s “True Detective.” Is this so or is it just my imagination?
JC No, I wouldn’t have
said so. I mean, Harris casts a long shadow, and Every Dead Thing was
certainly in it, but not so much the later books. As for True Detective,
the elements of the novels that you’ve referred to in your earlier questions
were there long before True Detective. Pizzolatto – at least in that
first series - is interesting in the way he has picked from other texts,
including the work of Thomas Ligotti and Robert W. Chambers – and, indeed,
James Lee Burke. Pizzolattto has been influenced, but he’s not an
influence himself, or least not for me. He will be for others down the
line. What was most impressive for me about the first series of True Detective
was its visual and narrative cohesion, and that owed as much to Cary Fukunaga,
who directed all of its episodes, as to Pizzolatto
JP How far have
you planned out Charlie’s future? The desire to know what happens next is
strong in your fans. When is the next book out and can you give us any clues?
JC Well, I still
enjoy writing the books, and I hope to continue doing so for a while yet, but
there is a narrative strand that will have to be brought to a conclusion at
some point. The next book will, with luck, be out in April 2017.
I’m working on it at the moment, and it has a title. It’ll be called A
Game of Ghosts, and it’s about as weird a book as I’ve written. Sometimes
it seems to me that, with each book, the readers are prepared to step a little
further into the world of the series, and as a consequence the stories can grow
JP Thank you for
your time and insight
JC Thanks for the
interest. I just feel bad that I couldn’t answer all of the
questions. Well, I could have, but then I’d have been forced to kill you.
SHOTS wish to thank
reviewer John Parker, Kerry Hood of Hodder and Stoughton and John Connolly
for their time in sorting this interview.
More information about the work of John Connolly available here
And don’t forget, Shots have heavily discounted copies of A Time
of Torment available from our bookstore
Reviewer John Parker is a graduate qualified English/Spanish Teacher, owner
and director of CHAT ENGLISH, an English Language Centre in Avilés on the north
coast of Spain . A voracious reader, he has particularly loved horror fiction
for many years.
Cover Photos © Hodder and Stoughton
Other Photos © Ayo Onatade