Saturday, September 18, 2010

Michael Gregorio

Michael Gregorio is the pen name of Michael G. Jacob and Daniela De Gregorio. They live in Spoleto, Italy, and were awarded the Umbria del Cuore prize in 2007.

Their new book is Unholy Awakening.

From their Q & A with R.N. Morris at The Rap Sheet:

R.N. Morris: I consider myself very lucky, because I got in on the Hanno Stiffeniis series right at the beginning with your first novel, A Critique of Criminal Reason (one of January Magazine’s favorite books of 2006). That title hints at a link with the philosopher Immanuel Kant, who of course features directly in the book, and indeed casts his shadow over your hero, magistrate/investigator Stiffeniis, in every subsequent book. The standard question for historical crime novelists is “What drew you to your chosen period and setting?” Am I right in thinking that it had something to do with a preoccupation with Kant?

Michael Gregorio: Back in 2000, we were working separately on novels, but neither of us seemed to be going any­­where. Daniela was teaching philosophy, and she was fascinated by something she had read about the Prussian philosopher, Immanuel Kant. Indeed, she had plans to write a short story about the great thinker, and the rough ex-soldier, Martin Lampe, who was his personal valet. The two men had been living under the same roof for almost 30 years when, one day, the servant was sacked on the spot. What had Lampe done to give offense? And why did the “most rational man in the world” paste notices around his house, remind­ing himself to “Forget Martin Lampe”? Kant’s biographers had little to say on the subject, so we began working together on a possible explanation. The result in 2006 was A Critique of Criminal Reason.

Our first novel portrayed Kant’s last days, and it shocked many purists, apparently. We had come across an article in The Lancet suggesting that the philosopher’s old age was plagued by a form of Alzheimer’s disease described at the time as dementia. Can you imagine the most rational man in the world going nuts? It was the stuff that novels are made of...

At the end of the book, we killed him off, as you probably recall. We never intended to use Kant as a serial subject, nor as a detective. Instead, we created a protégé, a young magistrate named Hanno Stiffeniis, an ex-student of Kant’s, as our hero. Hanno idolizes Kant until he actually meets him, and realizes that he is all too human. As a result, Hanno Stiffeniis is tormented by his fear of what Kant may have said or written about him. Like all lead characters, our magistrate is tormented by his own demons...

In short, our novels are about Hanno Stiffeniis, his wife, and his family. You don’t need to study philosophy, know about Kant, or read our novels in chronological sequence to follow what’s going on. We think of Immanuel Kant as....[read on]
Learn more about the authors and their work at Michael Gregorio's website and blog.

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