Sunday, May 6, 2007

Allan Guthrie

Allan Guthrie's latest book, Hard Man, releases in the U.S. in June. Sandra Ruttan interviewed him for Spinetingler Magazine.

Here's a taste:

Sandra: How do you define noir?

Al: It depends what day of the week it is, but since it's Tuesday, I'll offer my most straightforward answer: noir is non-supernatural horror.

Sandra: There's a lot of pain in HARD MAN, a lot of violence. Where does your interest in writing about those themes come from?

Al: Yeah, apparently there's a lot of violence in HARD MAN. Everybody says so. I didn't notice until it was pointed out to me. But that might be because by the time anybody read HARD MAN I was well into the next book, which is much more violent. I actually think that HARD MAN isn't any more violent than my previous books, but it feels like it is because the writing's better. For instance, in HARD MAN there's a scene where Rog goes to visit Wallace with the intent of shooting him. One thing leads to another and there's a scene that lasts several pages which is apparently extremely violent. But if you read it over, the violence is almost all in Rog's head. All that happens is that a gun is placed against the stitches of someone's lip. That's it. Almost a cosy, really (ahem).

Interesting you mention pain, though. I believe that writing's about creating sensory experiences. If a character's eating a hamburger, I want the reader to taste it. So if a character's in pain, I want the reader to feel it. Violence in my books always hurts. And it always has a lasting effect. None of this getting knocked unconscious and waking up two minutes later with a little bump that's completely forgotten about ten seconds later. That annoys me almost as much as gratuitous scenery. I also try to write from the point of view of the victim where possible. But even my aggressor's get hurt. Hit somebody with your bare fist and you're liable to break a finger. In my books, anyway.

As to where my interest in writing about violence comes from, it probably started with the Bible (seriously). Deuteronomy is one of the most relentlessly violent books I've ever read, and as for all the suffering in the New Testament... I also love Jacobean Revenge drama, and guzzled loads of Middleton and co when I was at school. Shakespeare, too. Check out TITUS ANDRONICUS. And the body count in Hamlet's pretty high. I like drama. I like reading and writing about characters placed in extreme situations. That often involves violence. Also, HARD MAN is a modern revenge tragedy. Couldn't write one of those without it being violent. That'd be like asking Jack Bauer to relax, go home, take a bath. What'd be the fun in that?
Read the entire interview.

--Marshal Zeringue