So I recently raved about, oops I mean reviewed Dead Set, the latest January David novel from Will Carver – and today you can all get your hands on a copy! So in celebration of that fact I caught up with Will and asked him a few extremely intelligent questions. Ok, questions anyway. Here is what he had to tell me.
January David is a weirdly wonderful character – tell us a little about how he came into focus in your mind.
He was, actually, the last character I invented when I wrote GIRL 4. I started with the killer, Eames, then invented all of the victims, one of whom was Audrey David, my future detective’s wife. I’d built this entire world and a set of very deliberately staged scenes of murder, I just had to fit January David in. And the best way to do that was to have him not fit in. I wanted a man that was successful and smart but dark and broken. I wanted him to have risen up the ranks quickly for solving cases based largely on his intuitions, then I wanted to take his intuitions one step further and consequently force his career three steps back.
He needed to struggle. I wanted the reader to solve that case before the detective, to have more information than he was likely to uncover. I wanted him to make mistakes on the GIRL 4 case because he was so against believing in the things The Smiling Man was telling him. In THE TWO, I wanted him to go the other way. To believe so completely in his ‘intuitions’ that he forgot about the real police work that had built his career. I think he needed to fail so that he could remember why he does the job he does.
He wants to find his sister.
In DEAD SET, we see for the first time that January David is combining both of his talents, and to good effect.
Though he was the last character I created, I think he is the most complete in my mind. I think of him as a person rather than a character. He’s very real to me. He doesn’t do the same thing in every book. He can’t solve each case in the same way because he is evolving with each new challenge. I know him so well now that his chapters are the easiest to write for me. But I know where it’s all leading and I know where it will end.
Cool name too – How did you decide on “January”.
I wanted something memorable. A name that was quirky and unique enough to stick in peoples’ minds. I thought I may have made up the name but the parents of actress January Jones were decades ahead of me on that one, though I haven’t seen it used for a man . . . I think it works. And I like that it can be shortened to Jan for the people that know him best – I call him Jan. Still, there have been readers that tell me how much they like David January.
There is a second reason for his name but it is a bit of an authorly joke or puzzle that I share only with myself. I have been known to impart this information in person after a few whiskies so there are a few others who share my secret.
Maybe it’s an anagram . . .
Did you always intend to have a “supernatural” element to the stories?
Yes. Absolutely. Though I never really thought of it as supernatural. January David sees a cryptic version of a murder that is going to take place and he knows that some time in the 24 hours following, a person is going to die. These clues have been referred to as dreams or visions or prophecies but I tend to think of them as intuitions. He is a detective that has thrived on his hunches. I see his gift as taking the hunch to the next level. That Jan is so connected to the case that his unconscious mind is telling his conscious mind the things it needs to know. He needs to combine these intuitions with regular police procedure to obtain an answer quicker.
Saying that, I do understand the supernatural tag and I’m completely fine with that. My two favourite detective are Fox Mulder from The X-Files and Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks so I have a fondness for the esoteric and it’s nice that my writing can lift itself out of straight crime or thriller.
Is it difficult to give a unique “voice” to each character with the multiple viewpoints?
Think of it in terms of the TV show Big Brother. The later seasons became ridiculous. They would fill the house with deliberately combative personalities. They’d slip in a woman who used to be a man or a dwarf or someone with obscene plastic surgery or a nymphomaniac or conjoined twins. It was one step away from The Bearded Lady or Jim-Jim the Dog-Faced Boy. It was bad television and, worse than that, it was easy television.
Compare it with the first season of the show, and the second season to an extent. It was twelve ‘normal’ people from around the UK who had no idea how big the show was going to be. They were like people you knew, the differences between them were based on personality. That was the risk. That’s what was interesting.
When I create each voice I don’t want every character to be completely different from the other. It is more to do with nuance. So I think about each character having a different personality quirk or way of speaking, perhaps they have a phrase they use or something they mispronounce. It should be subtle because that is more realistic. It’s harder to do but who wants it easy?
Do you have a favourite villain? – Eames, Audrey or someone we perhaps haven’t met yet?
I love writing the villains and I’ve done a lot of research into the psychology of serial-killers, psychopathy and cultism. It’s all so interesting. I really loved writing the character of V in THE TWO. He was so strict with himself and focussed on his regime of fitness and excess. He was a classic removed narcissist, but with a good reason. Really enjoyable to write.
Eames is my favourite, though. That’s why I had to bring him back for DEAD SET. He is just so cold. He looks at a person and thinks of them in the same way that he thinks of his shoes or a smeared handprint on the doorframe or a discarded TV dinner. He believes that he is supposed to kill, that it is his job. He was formed a lot from Ted Bundy and Charles Manson but he, himself, admits that he is nothing like them. He does not blame anyone else for the way that he is, he was born to do this. It’s not even a case of not feeling that what he does is wrong, it’s that he just doesn’t care.
I love that he has this inflated vision of his station in life yet he also looks at himself in the same way that he sees a dirty fork or a chewed-up biro. I know that what he does is wrong, that he is a bad man, but he’s also quite suave and I find myself liking him and his cockiness.
He is pure theatre and real pleasure to write but his chapters are always the most difficult to write because every inflection of his voice, the pace that he talks, it has to be perfect. That’s how he’d want it.
Tell us a little bit about what’s next for January.
DEAD SET is the last book of my contract so January David’s future is currently floating in the ether with The Smiling Man. What I will say is that I know what the next three books will be, I have written one of the them and started another.
I don’t want to give too much away that would spoil the end of DEAD SET but I do see some of the characters returning and January David uncovering something very significant that is related to his past. He is also moving into a place where the reader will have to be on their A-game if they are going to solve a case before him from now on. He is emerging from the darkness.
Book you wish you had written.
This is a different question to What is your favourite book? I love The Book Thief but I don’t wish I had written it, that would have taken something away from the way I felt when I read it. I love Hemingway and Fitzgerald and there are single lines they have written that I would give it all up for. But there are two books I wish I had written. Fight Club and American Psycho. I think Palahniuk and Easton-Ellis are of a similar ilk. Caustic prose that shows no fear. Dark and daring and uncaring. Free to paint a picture of the world that most readers are afraid to admit is true and exists. That’s what writing is or should be about.
I keep a copy of Fight Club on my desk when I write and occasionally flick through it if I’m having a dull moment. It’s my something to aim for. I can turn to any page and it makes me feel sick that someone else got there with it first.
I am Jack’s envious quill.
3 People living or dead you would have a beer with?
I’d have a beer with anyone, especially if they’re buying . . .
Shaun T. He’s a fitness guru responsible for the Insanity workout regime. I’ve gone through this high-intensity workout program several times now and he has pushed me to the limit. It’s really difficult but it’s awesome. I would love to take him out for a few beers just so that I could say, ‘Right, you keep up with ME this time. Dig deep.’
Hemingway. But we’d have to drink Absinthe. And he’d have to get really serious about writing. Maybe he could punch me in the face at the end of the night. What a story.
Hank Moody from Californication. I know he’s not dead or alive. I know he’s not real. To you. But he is to me. I would love to have a few beers with him. Shoot the shit about how being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life before moving onto whisky and talking about women. I imagine the night turning into something bad that we’d need a lawyer to get out of. That the details would only return the next day in patches of light. We’d go back to his after being let out of jail and start the party again in the morning. So, not that different from my real life . . .
Thank you Mr Will Carver!
First things first. If you have not then READ GIRL 4 FIRST. And The Two. And you should. If you havent. There may be spoilers ahead for the first two novels.
Here we go….
Detective Inspector January David doesn’t love me.
He loves his missing sister. He loves his job.
But he doesn’t love me. Not in the way he should.
I am his wife. I am still his wife.
And I will do anything for him.
No matter what I have to sacrifice.
So the third outing for January David, finds him coming to the end of the sabbatical enforced upon him after the events of “The Two”. Meanwhile a missing young girl is found dead, another murder victim begins to tell us her tale…and January will soon find himself caught up in the tangled web being weaved by our favourite psychotic killer once more…oh but which psychotic killer do you refer to I hear you ask? Well take your pick. The wonderfully drawn Eames or the enigmatic and dangerous Audrey David? Well, we will see…
What you get with this series of novels is Murder, Magic and Mayhem. A hint of the supernatural and a touch of fear. Or in my case a screaming case of the heebie jeebies. Every time. Every single time. Why? No idea – its all in the writing my friends.
Will Carver writes with a very quirky style – it is unique and very much his own. He uses multiple points of view to great effect – you hear from January, from Audrey, from Eames and from the victims, all interspersed with bridges from one to the other…a flowing and intelligent narrative that tells you everything you need to know whilst keeping it secret at the same time. Inventive writing indeed. It won’t work for everyone – but if you love a story that takes you “outside the box” then this is perfect for you.
As I was drawn inexorably towards yet another brain bending conclusion (yes, you will not get molly coddled here folks) I was at turns terrified, absorbed, captivated and entertained – as usual a perfect combination. This is perhaps my favourite of the three – because now the mythology and mystery at the heart of these novels is ingrained. I’m right there. I know what to expect and yet I am always, always taken aback. Perhaps I should say I have learned to expect the unexpected…
I adore this series in the same way that I adore John Connolly’s “Charlie Parker” series – because they are surprising, delightful, downright scary and utterly fascinating. Kudos.
Follow Will on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/will_carver
Purchase Information clickety click : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Set-January-David-3/dp/0099551055/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383559778&sr=1-2
(Remember though – Girl 4 first!)
Happy Reading Folks!