Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lyndsay Faye

Lyndsay Faye is the author of critically acclaimed Dust and Shadow and the newly released The Gods of Gotham.

From her Q & A with crime fiction maven J. Kingston Pierce at Kirkus Reviews:

Dust and Shadow found Sherlock Holmes hunting Jack the Ripper. The Gods of Gotham, while also a historical crime novel, is a creation wholly of your own imagining. Was it harder to compose a book without Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s storytelling template?

Well, I’d never have been able to write a novel in the first place if it hadn’t had a very exact template. I was a double major in English and acting, but I’ve never taken anything resembling a creative-writing course, though I was an editor for the campus literary magazine.

So I’d no idea what I was doing, but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is one of the greatest storytellers of all time—writing a Sherlock Holmes pastiche essentially gave me an intensive crash course in the basics. And of course, the Ripper crimes actually happened; to an enormous extent the storyline is set. With Dust and Shadow, I was weaving fiction into fact, but what made my great hubris in thinking I could actually complete a novel possible was the fact that the events themselves were linear and inalterable…

To some extent, writing Gods of Gotham was easier because no one was looking over my shoulder, telling me I’d gotten it wrong. But to start with a tabula rasa like that—it’s a terrifying void, creating your own universe. Starting with nothing and conjuring people. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Holmes and Watson are iconic—you know where they’re at from page one. Gods of Gotham was mythmaking, not retelling, so I had to learn the ropes all over again.

Although Holmes was brilliant, even he faced crime-solving challenges—and that was in the 1880s and later, when there was at least some scientific element to criminal investigations. Your own detective, Timothy Wilde, works in comparative blindness during the 1840s. What research did you do to make the sleuthing practices in The Gods of Gotham accurate?

It was horrendously difficult to dredge up accounts of the day-to-day lives of the first policemen—plenty of people recorded the fact of the NYPD’s formation but not the techniques used. I studied the methods employed by the constables during the Mary Rogers case in 1841, the infamous mystery of the...[read on]
Learn more about the author and her novels at Lyndsay Faye's website.

Writers Read: Lyndsay Faye (May 2009).

--Marshal Zeringue