I adore the writing of Stav Sherez so I recently caught up with him to find out more about the Carrigan and Miller books amongst other things – here is what he had to tell me.
Tell me a little about how Carrigan and Miller came into focus.
Like most things, it was more by accident than design. I knew I wanted my third novel to deal with modern-day Africa and the phenomenon of child soldiers. I was interested in what happened to them when they were in another country, trying to create a new life for themselves. I knew that I couldn’t use amateur sleuths, as I’d previously done, because they wouldn’t have the access to the immigrant community needed and so the protagonists had to be cops. Once I knew this, the characters of Carrigan and Miller came into focus. It was never meant to be a series but halfway through writing A Dark Redemption I realised there was far more to these characters than I could get at in one book.
You have a lot of factual basis in the stories you write – Is it tough on the emotions to research?
Absolutely. But it’s also what spurs me to tell these particular stories. And the best thing about this job is that every novel allows me to further educate myself about the world. I’m interested in how idealism turns into fanaticism and each of my novels has dealt with this issue in different ways. Spending months reading about the Holocaust for The Devil’s Playground, or about child soldiers for A Dark Redemption – it is disturbing and creeps and gnaws and burrows into your dreams and the only way I know to purge it is through fiction.
Tell us a bit about series writing, it always fascinates me to know if there is a long term plan for the characters?
As I mentioned above, the series was never planned and I still don’t have a long term plan. I don’t believe in long-term plans. I don’t know what will interest me next year or the year after that or in six years time so to plan would be pointless and self-defeating. These days, when I get an idea for a novel, I first work out whether it should be a Carrigan and Miller or a standalone. Then I go from there. I never plan individual books more than a few chapters ahead so the idea of planning several books in advance is unimaginable to me!
The main difficulty I’ve found so far in writing a series is the danger of repeating oneself. You will inevitably be writing similar scenes from book to book and so the challenge is to make them new and surprising each time.
The London Carrigan and Miller inhabit is a dark one. How is your London?
Very pleasant, thank you! But there are many Londons. All cities are palimpsests – history and biography thread through their streets and buildings. I set my first two books abroad because London as a location for fiction held no interest for me, I knew it too well and it disappeared like the wallpaper in your flat disappears. But A Dark Redemption had to be set in London and I realised there was another London I could write about – a city of illegal immigrants, locked-down communities and transient populations, a city we pass by every day yet rarely notice.
One book you have read that stays in your heart.
I’m getting to be a bit of a bore on this subject but Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. The sentences are – I think – the best written of any novel, ever. The rush of landscape, history and hurtling theology. The dark incessant vision of a Hobbesian future played out in the bloodlands of the American West.
Apart from Author name one job in the world you would LOVE to have.
I truly cannot think of any other thing I would rather be. I wanted to be a writer since I was ten and this has never changed or wavered.
3 people living or dead you would go for a beer with.
William Burroughs, Jorge Luis Borges, Thomas Pynchon.
Thank you so much Stav!
Review: Eleven Days
Once again I found myself diving into a “second in series” book by an author I was already extremely fond of. The first book in the “Carrigan and Miller” series, A Dark Redemption, was excellent and I was not far into this one before I realised that, if anything, it was even better. This time we find our protagonists investigating arson at a convent in which eleven nuns die…except there were only ten nuns in residence. With Eleven days to go until Christmas, the powers that be are keen for a resolution to this case… So begins a mystery that is deeper than it first appears and takes us on a journey across time and continents until the final,very jaw dropping (in the best way possible – I didnt see it coming and there was I thinking I was clever…) solution. Once again Mr Sherez creates characters you can believe in. Both Carrigan and Miller grow in stature and the supporting cast are all important to the story and well drawn. The background, of evil acts in South America, The Shining Path and all the political shenanigans is brilliant – extremely realistic, I imagine that a fair bit of research was involved in making it authentic. Its also a terrific social comment on what may be happening in our own back yard that we all turn a blind eye to – some of the story was very emotive and isnt it great when a book can make you feel something as well as entertain you? I have to say I was pleased to be reading this on the Kindle – I’m fairly sure I would be covered in paper cuts by now otherwise in my eagerness to turn pages…so all in all a great sequel, a great book and if you havent met up with Carrigan and Millar before, head back towards a Dark Redemption and I’m fairly sure it will then be less than Eleven Days before you are reading Eleven Days. Wonderful.
Happy Reading Folks!
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Purchase information clickety click http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stav-Sherez/e/B001HPPZV6/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1385716492&sr=1-2-ent