Not Writing What You Know
by Leonard Picker -- Publishers Weekly, 3/24/2008
George, who stunned followers of her Thomas Lynley series by killing
off the Scotland Yard inspector’s wife in
With No One as Witness (2005),
shows Lynley struggling to carry on in
Careless in Red.
Why did you choose to give
Lynley an aristocratic background?
This was entirely for my own amusement. When I first began this
series, I had no thought of getting published. I wanted to write
about characters that would provide me with some fun in their
creation and in their depiction.
How has Lynley’s being an earl affected his
approach to detection?
It has made him strive to be as egalitarian as possible, knowing the
enormous differences that exist between the life he was brought up
with and the lives led by most of the people with whom he interacts.
He isn’t impressed by people from his own class, and at the same
time he doesn’t act superior to people of the “lower” classes.
Why did you as an American decide to set
your books in England?
I have a longtime love of England, and I have never believed in the
tired advice, “Write what you know.” What I knew was ordinary. Why
would I want to write about that?
How would a series set in the U.S. have
Class in the U.S. is more often defined by money, success, education
and accomplishment rather than by birth. Someone who had climbed
into the upper class as we define it would be highly unlikely to
become a cop unless he was eschewing his parents’ way of life. Sort
of like a child of Bill Gates becoming a detective. I don’t think
such a story line would work as well in the U.S.
Are you concerned that readers will be
impatient if Lynley is still one of the walking wounded for another
book or two?
To be honest with you, I always focus on the work itself. I never
focus on the reader. Indeed, I don’t think about the reader. If I
thought about the reader and how the reader was going to react and
what the reader likes and doesn’t like, I would end up writing
cookie-cutter books. I’d be afraid to experiment with narrative at
all. I’d ultimately lose the joy of writing, and the whole kit and
caboodle would sink under the weight of my ennui.
This interview courtesy of Publishers
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