Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sean Chercover

Sean Chercover's terrific debut crime novel, Big City, Bad Blood, captivated readers last year.

Julia Buckley asked him a few questions about his craft, including:

I’m curious about the name of your protagonist, Ray Dudgeon. In my world (the world of teaching Shakespeare), a dudgeon refers to a holder for a dagger, as in Macbeth’s famous speech: “I see thee still, and on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood.” Am I raving here, or were you inspired by Shakespeare in choosing the name?

Shakespeare rocks, and the Scottish play is right up there with Hamlet for me. Ray had a number of names along the way, before I settled on Dudgeon. I like surnames that have independent meanings as words. Some of my favorite classic PIs have names that do double duty by describing the character. Spade, Archer, Hammer. And for some reason I wanted a two-syllable word that started with D. I was flipping through the dictionary, and I hit upon dudgeon. As a fan of the bard, I was familiar the meaning that Shakespeare used – the handle of a dagger – which seemed to fit with Ray’s underlying rage and the violent world he inhabits. And the modern usage of the word also fits. Ray was once a reporter, but he quit journalism when he couldn’t come to terms with the ethical compromises that were being forced upon him. You could say, he left “in high dudgeon.” So I was actually inspired by the dictionary, but the Shakespeare connection was a nice bonus.
Read the full interview.

The Page 69 Test: Big City, Bad Blood.

--Marshal Zeringue