Sunday, January 15, 2017

Lyndsay Faye

Lyndsay Faye is the author of critically acclaimed Dust and Shadow, and is featured in Best American Mystery Stories 2010. She is a true New Yorker in the sense that she was born elsewhere.

Faye's love of her adopted city led her to research the origins of the New York City Police Department, the inception of which exactly coincided with the start of the Irish Potato Famine. Her second and third novels, The Gods of Gotham and its sequel Seven for a Secret, follow ex-bartender Timothy Wilde as he navigates the rapids of his violently turbulent city, his no less chaotic elder brother Valentine Wilde, and the perils of learning police work in a riotous and racially divided political landscape.

The latest volume in the series is The Fatal Flame.

From Faye's Q&A at The Life Sentence:

Kim: Going back to the role of fire in your books, I’m curious about whether you’ve had personal experience with fire. How did that become a motif?

Lyndsay: Half of this answer is interesting, and the other half is the most boring thing that you have ever heard. The interesting part is that I have PTSD problems because I had a bad accident when I was six years old, so I know what panic attacks look like. I was squished in an elevator shaft.

Kim: Oh my gosh.

Lyndsay: I’m lucky to be alive. I had seventy stitches on the back of my head.

Kim: Whoa.

Lyndsay: So the interesting part is that I know what it feels like to freak out. The other part was in the year 1845, when the NYPD was founded, three hundred buildings burned down. Six million dollars’ worth of property damage. This is in 1845, right? That’s an astronomical figure. The whole downtown was just burned. I thought, what could be a more dramatic circumstance than putting your hero right in the middle of that event? The scarred, damaged but stalwart hero is something that I just poached from the zeitgeist. I thought, okay, he’s in this real historical fire. He’s been fire scarred. Since he’s fire scarred, he cannot return to his job bartending. Since he cannot return to his job bartending, he has to take this job from his brother, whom he thinks hates him and whom he hates almost equally.

Kim: Right.

Lyndsay: In The Fatal Flame, the reason there’s so much fire going on is because I’m a terrible person. Every time I love a character I’m like, what’s the worst thing I could do to them? So when I thought to myself, what’s the worst thing I could do to Timothy investigating a crime that has to do with seamstresses? I thought, arson. He would hate that. I don’t mean to be glib about it because it was very painful to write. I just think it’s better storytelling if the stakes are very high. And it was so satisfying to me to see him grow up to the point that he can follow his brother into a burning building.

Kim: We seem to be really interested in antiheroes right now, and Timothy is...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Lyndsay Faye's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Gods of Gotham.

The Page 69 Test: Seven for a Secret.

My Book, The Movie: The Fatal Flame. 

Writers Read: Lyndsay Faye (March 2016).

--Marshal Zeringue