On tour with Brad Smith!
Today is day one/stop one on the Brad Smith blog tour...and Mystery Maven Canada has the pleasure of putting him on the hot seat.
If you read the review of Red Means Run posted here on Dec.10, 2011, you'll know that I think Smith is a terrific writer and I've enjoyed all his novels. If you're not yet on the bandwagon, I trust this will get you there! Enjoy the questions and answers.
1)Do plots come to you in a mysterious ways?
I wouldn’t say mysterious…but it’s true that they come out of the blue and are sometimes fully formed, and others not. For instance, I had a very vague idea for Busted Flush (my novel about contemporary Gettysburg, and our obsession with owning things of historical or social significance) but it took me a long time to flesh it out. In fact, I wrote All Hat while thinking about how to write Busted Flush. On the other hand, All Hat came to me pretty much complete.
2) Your protagonist in RED MEANS RUN is from Quebec. Are the references to Canada meant to enhance the story or as a wink/nudge to your homeland, or both?
Definitely to enhance the story. First of all, it establishes Virgil as a man “out of place” and secondly it introduces the whole concept of him heading for the border after his escape, which he uses as a red herring, one that the dim-witted Joe Brady swallows hook, line and sinker. But the savyy Claire Marchand does not.
3) You’ve been quoted as saying your characters are, “willing to do something wrong to make something right”. Is this at the basis of all your novels?
I would say there’s an element of that in much of my work. My protagonists tend to be middle class rather than wealthy, and usually stubborn to a fault, often to their own detriment. Underdogs, I guess. And yes – they might play fast and loose with the law, when they consider the law to be wrong. Technically, of course, the law is never wrong, but on a moral level, it sometimes is on pretty shaky grounds. And let’s face it - a guy tilting at a windmill is much more entertaining than a guy toeing the line.
4) Your work has been described as being, “countrified detective fiction minus the detective” – how do you react to that?
I’m definitely okay with it. There are certainly a lot of detectives out there nowadays and it seemed to me that the room was getting a little crowded. Virgil Cain is an everyman – former ballplayer, now a farmer – who falls into situations beyond his control. He doesn’t go looking for trouble, but he certainly has a knack for finding it. Or maybe it finds him. It really doesn’t matter which of the two is true. All that matters when you’re in trouble…is getting out.
5)Do you think in grand themes when you start plotting?
Not really. I usually start with a basic through line, and then fill it in with secondary plots as the various characters introduce themselves. Often a character will surprise me, which is one of the great pleasures of writing. For that reason I don’t use a detailed outline. I’m always afraid that it would take away from the spontaneity of the process. For instance, the character of Klaus Gabor in Busted Flush probably would not exist if I had invented him before sitting down to write. I actually stumbled across the idea of him when in Gettysburg, doing research.
Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for this opportunity! For more about Red Means Run, click on this trailer: http://pages.simonandschuster.ca/redmeansrun