Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tana French

Tana French grew up in Ireland, Italy, the US and Malawi, and has lived in Dublin since 1990.

From a Q & A at her publisher's website:

Q. A recurring anxiety in your fiction concerns the intrusion of mass culture into Ireland and the consequent erosion of the country's traditional character and identity. Do you find that there is still a "real" Ireland, or have Burger King and Britney Spears triumphed at last?

I think the Irish sense of identity is a strange, complicated thing that's been shaped, or misshaped, by centuries of poverty and oppression, first under British rule and then under Church rule. We became extreme: there's a sense, almost at a subconscious level, that either you cling to your origins to the point of resisting all change, or else you need to ditch them altogether, pretend they never existed, in order to get ahead. This was very obvious during the economic boom, when a lot of people-mainly in my generation and the one behind us-seemed to run as far and as fast as they could from anything that was identifiably Irish: accent, slang, fashion sense, cultural references, all shifted into some nonspecific mid-Atlantic bland zone. For a lot of people, anything that marked us as Irish was linked to being poor, isolated, provincial and generally inferior. We were like the poor immigrant kid who strikes it rich and instantly changes his name, gets accent lessons, refuses to eat Old Country food and almost dies of embarrassment if his new cool friends run into his parents. The implication was that the past and the future are somehow mutually exclusive: if you want to lay claim to your future, you have to ditch your past.

Personally, I think that attitude is slightly insane. It's very possible to transcend your past without forgetting it-I know plenty of people who've done exactly that. But if you try to eliminate it altogether, you're ripping the foundations out of your future. I'm hoping this might be one of the few silver linings to the terrifying recession we're in: an end to the hysterical scramble to turn into the Joneses, and a reexamination of what we have that's worthwhile and unassailably ours. I still believe that there's plenty there, and that there's no reason why we can't find a balance between that and the more global influence.

Q. How fully do you plot a mystery before you write it? Are you yourself ever surprised by the direction that one of your stories takes?

I don't have...[read on]
Also see Tana French's top ten maverick mysteries.

Visit Tana French's website.

The Page 69 Test: In the Woods.

--Marshal Zeringue