I'm BACK, with another fabulous interview! Today's guest is the always witty and often snarky John Dolan. I first fell in love with Everyone Burns after discovering it by chance. I'm not usually a mystery person, but the haunting, maddening tale of murder and longing on a tiny Thai island stayed with me. Naturally, when Hungry Ghosts came out, I knew I had to track down the hatted cynic and get him to talk about it. I love a good noire atmosphere, and Dolan delivers. So, without further ado, please welcome: John Dolan!
Q: Describe yourself in 20 words or less.
A: Smarty-pants, lover of all things arcane and obscure, chocolate addict, anal retentive, hat-wearer.
Q: Tell us about your novels.
A: I’ve embarked on a seven-book series entitled “Time, Blood and Karma” which runs from the late 1950s up to present day and tracks across various parts of the planet. Although each book has a ‘complete’ story in it, they will all link up. The whole exercise is about showing how interconnected we all are; how when you throw a stone into a pond its ripples spread out; how you never fully know the way your actions and decisions affect others.
Q: ‘Everyone Burns’ reads like a love-letter to Thailand. Tell us more about how that came to be.
A: We’ve been living in South East Asia for a few years now – we have a house on Koh Samui – and it reflects our deep love for this part of the world. Thailand is not without its problems, just like anywhere else, but for now I can’t think of a better place to live (except maybe Bali, but that’s not a practical proposition for us at present).
|Cover photo supplied by the author.|
Q: How would you describe the role of Buddhism in the story?
A: As I mentioned above, the whole series is about interconnection which is a key feature of Buddhist philosophy. Another central tenet of Buddhism is a focus on what ‘reality’ is, how the world as we perceive it is merely an illusion. You could say that the story is in a sense an illustration of Buddhism ‘in action’ – although that sounds a wee bit heavy. It’s impossible to write realistically about Thailand without interleaving Buddhism anyway: too much would be missing.
Q: Your protagonist’s actions are often (delightfully) morally questionable. Do you think they were justified? Why or why not?
A: My protagonist, David Braddock, has his own peculiar moral code and acts accordingly. He is in many ways a damaged human being and although he may have some useful insights into life he also has some major blind spots. There will be times when the reader will want to strangle him (I’ve already had some book reviews to that effect). I leave it to others to decide whether his actions are justified. For myself, I can only say I wouldn’t do some of the things he does …
Q: Do you feel your background influenced the main character, or was he inspired by external forces?
A: There is some of me in Braddock. I think that’s unavoidable. We share some experiences and attitudes. However, he is also a creature of my imagination. I try not to make a habit of sleeping with other people’s wives. That sort of thing can get you into trouble, right? I’ve also just quit smoking – something Braddock would struggle to do.
|Photo provided by the author. Also, in spite of being British, he's taller than you'd think.|
Q: There are heavy noire aspects to the book. Which writers or films inspired you?
A: The writings of Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammett, for sure, but also some of the wonderful old black and white movies – especially the ones with Bogart in them.
Q: What do you plan to write or publish next?
A: The second book in the series – “Hungry Ghosts” – is hitting the internet ether right at this moment. It picks up where “Everyone Burns” left off. Then I’m having a month away from my laptop before starting the next book – “A Poison Tree” – which goes back in time to the events preceding “Everyone Burns”. I hope the time-jumps won’t be too confusing for the readers. There is also an upcoming project with writer Fiona Quinn: we’re co-authoring a novel. I’m pretty excited about that, although the logistics of her being in the USA and me being in Thailand are pretty formidable!
Q: Which foods do you absolutely hate?
A: Cement gives me acid reflux, and I’m not too keen on anything laced with arsenic. Other than those, I eat pretty much everything. Except people, of course.
Q: What is your favorite noire or black and white movie?
A: “The Maltese Falcon”, although the romantic in me wants to say, “Casablanca”.
If you would like a FREE taster of John’s writing, download a copy of his wickedly funny short story “Jim Fosse’s Expense Claim” from Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260738
NOTE: For the launch period of “Hungry Ghosts” you can buy “Everyone Burns” for the special price of $0.99 (or 79p if you’re a Brit!).