Shots: The Crime & Mystery Ezine

THE PROTECTION BUSINESS: David Morrell talks to Ali Karim

Page 1 Of 2  [Page 2]

Photograph © 2001Jennifer Esperanza Michael Connelly said ‘If you're reading Morrell, you're sitting on the edge of your seat’. Well with David Morrell having over 22 million books in print, means that there are an awful lot of people sitting uncomfortably around the globe.

A warning. If you are going to pick up a paperback copy of David Morrell’s latest ‘The Protector’ - invest in a comfortable chair as in the words of former CWA Chairman and King of British Noir, Russell James : -

‘There isn't a chapter in this book without a twist or a thrill. At times it reads like a Saturday morning cinema serial on speed, but the book is littered with security trade craft, is compulsively written, and is, in all seriousness, as exciting a thriller as it is possible to write. Morrell is a world leader in the thrill-a-minute business, and The Protector shows you why.’

I spent many years of my life in the company of the books of David Morrell. During my teenage years I read his horror short stories and was traumatised by his novel ‘The Totem’ as well as ‘Testament’. Later I tore through his espionage thrillers, most read within in a day or two, and as I grew older I read his mature work and marvelled at his way of weaving action into a thought-provoking plot. With characters that were duplicitous and enemies legion and murderous, his books for me always retained a sense of purpose and perspective. No matter how grim the circumstances, there was always purpose in the world of David Morrell.

Despite the trappings of commercial and critical success, he survived a troubled and traumatic childhood; and later he and his wife Donna faced a personal tragedy with dignity and grace, which is outlined in his book ‘Fireflies: A Father’s Tale of Love and Loss ’. With a complex body of work that traverses the Horror, Espionage and Thriller genres spanning over thirty years, he continues to be a giant in the literary world. His latest book ‘The Protector’ can only be described as dazzling. If you’ve never read Morrell, it’s time to flick off the safety-catch, invest in a comfortable chair and enter the world of the troubled rogue male.

I had the pleasure of meeting David and Donna Morrell during Bouchercon 2003 in Las Vegas, where he talked modestly about his work, and his troubled life. David kindly agreed to be interviewed for his British readers by Shots Ezine.

Photograph © 2003 Ali Karim Like the late, great Robert Bloch, who is best remembered by the majority of casual readers as the creator of Norman Bates; David Morrell will forever be linked to his iconic creation - John Rambo. I would however suggest, that you really should explore his other works, because in my opinion, David Morrell is the father of the contemporary action thriller. I’m not alone in this assertion as Morrell’s latest thriller THE PROTECTOR won the 2003 Thriller award at the Love is Murder Convention in Chicago this February; while the influential Writers Write Website cited THE PROTECTOR as one of the top thrillers in 2003.

So what are you waiting for - it’s in the bookstores now!










































































































































Ali: David Morrell, welcome to Shots Ezine.
David: Thanks for asking me.
Ali:A novelist once told me that the most interesting writers are those wrestling with some personal trauma that splintered their youth. I read in your memoir (Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing) about the troubling way you were left at an orphanage at the age of four. As your own work features many trouble people involved in situations that they don’t fully understand; could you tell us about your early youth and upbringing and what that brought to your work
David:To paraphrase Graham Greene, “an unhappy childhood is a gold mine for a novelist.” My father was an RAF bombardier who was shot down over France during WWII. He had met my mother when he was sent to Canada to train airmen there. When I was very young, no one bothered to explain why I didn’t have a father. I couldn’t understand why my friends had men in their homes while I did not. Then my mother, unable to hold a job and take care of me simultaneously, put me in an orphanage. Later, she put me on a Mennonite farm. Eventually she remarried, but my stepfather didn’t like children or staying at home. There were countless arguments that left me terrified about my safety. I used to put a pillow under my covers to make it look as if I was in bed. Then I crawled UNDER the bed and slept there. My major themes come from that time: sons searching for fathers, fear, the need for control of one’s emotions, the perception that the world is a hostile environment. We lived in small apartments over bars, where the drunks fought in the alleys. On one occasion, there were shots. Not a pleasant time.
Ali: Do you feel that knowing or believing that your father was a decorated British fighter pilot (shot and killed over France in WW2) somehow steered your writing toward the military-side of thriller fiction, where sometimes truth and fabrication become blurred? In fact ‘Blood Oath’ seems to pay a form of homage to your father. Would you care to comment?
David : When I was old enough to understand that I had had a father and that he had been killed in WWII, I developed a profound fear of anything that suggested violence. I couldn’t watch movies or TV shows that had any action in them. I was morbidly certain that, in the middle to a TV weather report, an announcer would appear and announce that war had been declared. This fear remained in me for quite some time. Later, when I was a teenager, my emotions reversed themselves, and I became fascinated with the military and with action stories.
Ali: You were brought up by your mother, after she collected you from the orphanage. Was she a reader and did she encourage you academically? How sure are you that she really was your biological mother?
David : Neither my mother nor my stepfather liked to read. There were perhaps one or two books in the house. They couldn’t understand my fascination with novels. I’m surprised that my mother paid most of my college tuition for my B.A. in English literature. She couldn’t figure out how reading novels was ever going to help me earn a living. Yes, I believe she was my biological mother. What I sometimes say, though, is that I have the uncertainty of wondering if I was adopted.
Ali: You have said that in your teenage years, you got into serious trouble, but aged seventeen you found direction from the TV Show Route 66 scripted by the great screenwriter Stirling Silliphant. Would you care to explain in what way?
David : In my early teenage years, I ran with street gangs and committed crimes such as shoplifting. Most of the kids I hung around with went to prison. But somehow my life took another turn, perhaps because I knew that I wanted something better and was willing to work to get it. Then on the first Friday in October of 1960, the classic TV show ROUTE 66 premiered. Its premise was that two young man in a Corvette convertible drove across the United States in search of America and themselves. Very Jack Kerouac ON THE ROAD. Each episode was filmed on location. The scripts by Stirling Silliphant were an amazing blend of action and hip philosophy that knocked me out and changed my life. I had never been so captivated by stories. Out of the blue, I had the idea that I would be a writer like Silliphant. I wrote letters to him. He encouraged me. I owe everything to him. Incidentally, it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I realized that both main characters were orphans and that one of them, a street kid from Hell’s Kitchen in New York City, was a parallel to my own life. Silliphant was eventually the executive producer of the miniseries of my novel THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE ROSE.
Ali: Born a Canadian you moved to the US to study under Phillip Young. What attracted you to seek out the Hemmingway Scholar?
David : I was in my fourth year of undergraduate study at a small college in Ontario, Canada. The school had a library the size of a living room. I had a fascination with Hemingway and wanted to read some scholarship about Hemingway. To my amazement, that small library actually had a book about him. The author of that critical text, Philip Young, wrote so vividly that I had the sense of him standing before me, talking to me. As with my exposure to Silliphant’s work, I was so knocked out by Young’s prose that I knew I had to study with him. (I don’t do things half-way.) So I wrote to Young and told him that I was moving to the United States, to Penn State, to study with him. He told me not to come-that professors got sick or fed up or died and that it was a mistake for a student to latch onto one professor. I replied with a letter that said if he hadn’t gotten sick or fed up or if he hadn’t died, I was coming. Little did I know that he had heart disease and was literally telling me that he thought he could die at any time. In any case, Penn State accepted me for graduate work. I met Young, became friends, became his graduate assistant, and eventually helped him run his household. Like Silliphant, Young was someone I related to as if he were my father. Later I had the privilege of co-editing a book of his posthumous essays: AMERICAN FICTION, AMERICAN MYTH.
Ali: You were married at this stage and had a young child, so how did your wife take this sudden uprooting?
David : The day I discovered Young’s Hemingway book, I went home and asked my wife, who was a high-school history teacher and who was pregnant with our first child, if she would mind quitting her job and moving to the United States. God bless her, she said, “Yes.” There is no way that I could have had my career without her help. She treated everything as an adventure
Ali: You then were tutored by Philip Klass (who used the name William Tenn in his published SF). Can you tell us about your undergraduate period?
David : Yes, my next artistic father figure was Philip Klass/William Tenn, the first novelist I met. He’d been part of what’s called the Golden Age of science-fiction writing and now was a professor of writing at Penn State. He graciously accepted me as a student, giving me one-on-one instruction. All the basics of what I learned about writing came from him. He was a brilliant, energetic teacher who sometimes lectured to me alone for 90 minutes at a time.
Ali: At what time did you realise that writing would be your life?
David : There’s no question that ROUTE 66, that Friday night in October of 1960, was the defining moment in terms of how I wanted to lead the rest of my life.
Ali: As a Professor of Literature at Iowa, what were your experiences in academia like? Did you tutor any students who became prominent in the fiction field?
David : I have a Ph.D. in American literature and taught academic courses: the American Novel of the 19th Century, the American Novel of the 20th Century, American Realism, Hemingway and Faulkner, Hawthorne and Melville, that sort of thing. The University of Iowa has the famous Writers Workshop, but I had nothing to do with it. In fact, they hated the sort of books I wrote and hated even more that I earned money as a novelist. That was the official line. But in secret, students snuck to my office and asked me technical questions about craft or asked me to read contracts they’d been offered (to see if the contracts were reasonable). Sometimes they showed me their manuscripts. The most productive association of that sort was with Jon Jackson who later published a series of police novels about Detroit. My most gifted student was T. C. Boyle. He writes humorous literary novels and short stories that critics love. His latest is DROP CITY. I taught him nothing about writing - he was a genius. But he did ask me to direct an individual reading course that he needed in order to graduate. We had a lot of interesting discussions, and I’m thrilled by his distinguished career.
Ali: Some of your work has parallels with the golden age of the British thrillers as exemplified by Ian Fleming, Adam Hall, Hammond Innes, Alistair MacLean, Geoffrey Household et. al (in fact you dedicated one of your books to the author of ‘Rogue Male’). Would you care to tell us about why this period of thriller writing appeals to you?
David : It’s important to remember that I had a ton of literary training and that I’m fascinated by the history of literature. I believe that if you’re going to write a certain type of fiction-mysteries or thrillers or science fiction or horror-you should be an expert in the history of your specialty. Philip Klass was the person who told me about Geoffrey Household. He saw some similarities between my work and Household’s. So I read everything Household wrote. ROGUE MALE, WATCHER IN THE SHADOWS, THE COURTESY OF DEATH, DANCE OF THE DWARFS. Wow. I’d been so immersed in classic American literature, Melville and Faulkner, etc., that I’d started writing like them. A big mistake because I didn’t have their talent and I was never meant to write super-complex novels. When I found Household, I said, “You mean I’m allowed to write like that.” Then I began researching other great British thriller writers, all the way back to Wilkie Collins’s THE WOMAN IN WHITE. He invented what’s called “the novel of sensation.” Then there was Erskine Childers’ THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS and John Buchan’s THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS and so on. British thriller writers were a revelation to me. Eric Ambler’s A COFFIN FOR DIMITRIOS. Frederick Forsyth’s THE DOGS OF WAR. I could go on and on. They presented exciting stories in a believable fashion, often emphasizing the outdoors and plenty of espionage tradecraft. They made me believe what was happening on the page. I eventually exchanged some letters with Household, who alas refused to give me a publicity blurb for my first novel FIRST BLOOD because it was too bloody. That’s a big difference between me and the classic British thriller writers. I love their use of fact, of information. But when it comes to action and violence, I’m not at all understated.
Ali: Do you think many of the golden-age British Thrillers have stood the test of time? And if so which books do you feel still have relevance in today’s world?
David : All the titles I mentioned are classics. By definition, they’ve stood the test of time. Of course, I forgot Graham Greene’s thrillers. These are great books that fulfil the requirements of teaching and delighting (to invoke the Latin poet Horace). By contrast, the American thriller tended away from espionage and toward detective stories and crime dramas. When I taught at the University of Iowa, I designed a course (one of the first of its type) called the Tough-Guy Novel. In these days of political correctness, a course with that title wouldn’t be possible. Basically, it included the hard-boiled fiction of BLACK MASK MAGAZINE, of Hammett and Chandler, of James M. Cain and Horace McCoy and even Mickey Spillane. If Geoffrey Household showed me my subject-novels of intrigue that mixed city and wilderness settings, James M. Cain showed me my style-prose stripped to its essentials and a structure that Cain likened to algebra (or what Hemingway called “the sequence of motion and fact”).
Ali: What is your take in the way violence is portrayed within the contemporary thriller as opposed to the golden age?
David : Violence in the Golden Age was understated and implied. These days, it’s all on the page. When FIRST BLOOD was published in 1972, TIME magazine accused me of having invented a new kind of fiction, what they called “carnography,” the meat novel, a parallel with pornography. Well, not many of us get credited for creating anything new, so I’ll accept the award. Prior to FIRST BLOOD, there had been few novels that contained so much action. Hammett’s RED HARVEST is one of the those few. In a way, FIRST BLOOD is the father of modern action stories. Because of my Hemingway background (I did my Master’s thesis on his style), I have always tried to make the violence in my books relate to the themes I work with. Fear. The obsession with keeping control of oneself in an insane world. Sometimes the only way to make the point is by showing some of the insanity. We live in a terrible time when the unthinkable can occur at any moment. Some writers avoid the unthinkable and present an idealized world. My own imagination leads me to imagine stories in which characters are forced to live by their wits and their animal instincts in order to survive-but at what a terrible psychological cost.
Ali: When I read Testament, the opening casted a cloud over the proceedings, and really shocked me. Can you tell us why many of your books such as ‘Testament’ and ’Desperate Measures’ start with people in very downbeat situations?
David : TESTAMENT has the most shocking opening of any of my books. It’s possibly in the top ten of any shocking opening. In fact, the whole book is shocking, so much so that I vowed never to write another like it. Neighbours shunned me. Parents refused to allow their children to play with mine. People whispered behind my back. On the other hand, Dean Koontz wrote me a letter a couple of years ago in which he graciously talked about the influence TESTAMENT had on him and especially on his novel INTENSITY. By comparison, DESPERATE MEASURES begins happily-just another scene in which a man is in a bathtub with the shower curtain closed for neatness, about to blow his brains out. My characters are damaged goods. They operate on the edge of sanity, trying to find a way to get through each day, often maintaining control by taking pride in their craft. There’s a very existential tone in my work.
Ali: Identity is another theme that features in much of your work from ‘Assumed Identity’ as well as the thriller ‘Long Lost’ and many others. Does the mystery of your own past, in terms of identity still haunt you and is that why you keep writing about it?
David : Yes, Identity is a big deal in my books. How does one define oneself? Most of my characters define themselves in terms of what they do. They have professions that involve life and death matters, and to survive, they need to pay attention to the rules of their profession all day, every day. There is no leisure for these characters. They are one hundred percent committed to every second-otherwise, they will be killed. I dramatize an intensity of perception that is most uncommon. My characters also identify themselves in terms of a firmly set code of ethics, which is based upon the military virtues of loyalty, honour, courage, and sacrifice.
Ali: Naturally the figure of John Rambo features heavily when anyone reviews your work. Can you tell us how ‘First Blood’ came about?
David : Wow, that’s a long story. I wrote about it at length in the introduction of the paperback to FIRST BLOOD. Basically, at Penn State in 1968, I had students who had been in Vietnam and who told me about the psychological baggage and trauma it had created in them. One night, I was watching the TV news. I saw two back-to-back stories-a firefight in Vietnam followed by American soldiers patrolling the streets of an American inner-city destroyed by riots. It seemed to me that these were both the same story, and I decided to write a novel in which an embittered American soldier brought the war home.
Ali: Rambo : First Blood part two was an interesting beast, partly based on the James Cameron script (after his work of ‘Planet of Blood’ and Piranaha : Flying Killers). Can you tell us how you worked on this book and why you chose to deviate somewhat from what eventually appeared on screen?
David : RAMBO II initially had a wonderful script by James Cameron. It got changed and adulterated, as so often happens in the movies. I own the literary copyright to the character. The producers wanted a novelization of the script and discovered that no on else could legally do it. Usually, a novelizer is a worker for hire, who can’t deviate from the script. My deal with the producers was that I’d do it only if I could be creative with what they gave me. I combined Cameron’s script with the final (fairly thin) script. Then I added my own material. It broke all the rules about novelizing.
Ali: Your novel ‘Rambo:III’ was a far more complex vehicle thematically than the film. Did you meet with Sylvester Stallone during the work on both novel and film?
David : RAMBO III had a fabulous first script in which Rambo became involved with a middle-aged French female doctor and helped her get her patients out of the Afghan war zone. He also had an interesting relationship with a 12-year-old Afghan girl whose life he saved. All that disappeared, leaving only the rescue of his father figure and military instructor Col. Trautman. Stripped down, the plot is a mess with a third act that’s basically the same as the second act. Rambo tries to rescue Trautman and fails. Rambo tries again and succeeds. Given such an ill-conceived structure, I returned to the elements of the first script and then added a ton of my own material. I should add that I agreed to do both novelizations because of a parental regard for the character and because I saw an opportunity to experiment with a fictional form that was totally unfamiliar to me: the novelization. I met Sylvester Stallone several times along the way. We’re not close, although on occasion we talk on the phone. He’s not as huge as he appears on the screen. He talks with a slight impediment because of damage that was caused by forceps during his birth. He’s smart and very amusing, especially when it comes to making fun of himself.
Ali: Looking back over Rambo’s adventures both in print and celluloid, what are your feelings about your creation today?
David : No one sets out to create an icon. When I wrote FIRST BLOOD more than thirty years ago, it never crossed my mind that I was creating a phenomenon. The novel and the film started trends that persist to this day. Unfortunately, in movies, the result has been a barrage of special effects explosions and not much else. My own goal has always been to emphasize characterization as much as action. In the U.S., many Vietnam veterans saw Rambo in terms of themselves-what they had suffered in Vietnam and what they felt when they came home to a nation that by and large didn’t welcome them. I’ve had many veterans thank me for the character as depicted in the first film.
Ali: I know that many people have acclaimed ‘Last Reveille’ as one of your most fragrant of works (in terms of characterisation). Can you tell us what this historical novel means to you and why you wanted to tell the story behind the Mexican bandit Pancho Villa?
David : LAST REVEILLE was written because of my fascination with the films of Sam Peckinpah, in particular THE WILD BUNCH, which is set in the same time period-the Mexican revolution of the early 20th century. I was fascinated by the history. The Mexican bandit Pancho Villa crossed the U.S. border and attacked a small town called Columbus. This was in 1916. American had not yet entered WWI. The attack forced the U.S. to think about its defenses or lack of them. The U.S. began building its military and used Villa’s raid as an excuse to invade Mexico, hunting him. Imagine. A full-scale military invasion as a result of a bandit’s raid. U.S. forces fought battles against Mexican soldiers and basically practiced for their entry into WWI. It’s an epic background. I told the story through the eyes of a young recruit who realizes that he hasn’t been properly trained and who seeks advice from a cavalry scout who is old enough to have been in America’s wars all the way back to the Civil War. The scout is a walking textbook of military history. But he knows he’s too old to go to the war in Europe. John Wayne showed interest in portraying him, but then his cancer came back. For reasons unclear to me, LAST REVEILLE wasn’t published in the UK.
Ali: I love your work in the Horror genre, both your short story work as well as your novel ‘The Totem’. Can you tell us why you think the Horror genre has gone through such a tough time of late?
David : Horror has gone through tough times of late because many horror writers emphasize the trappings of conventional horror fiction (haunted houses, vampires, etc.) rather than creating fresh visions. They’re in such awe of masters like Stephen King that they become versions of King rather than versions of themselves. Of course, not every horror writer fits this description. Peter Straub, for example, is constantly experimenting. What makes the difference, I think, is that he doesn’t see himself as a genre writer. Horror is about fear. In that regard, Thomas Harris’s RED DRAGON and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS are horror novels. That’s one reason why I identify with horror-because of my preoccupation with fear.
Ali: Why did you issue a revised text of ‘The Totem’ fifteen years later?
David : THE TOTEM, which has been cited in HORROR: THE 100 BEST NOVELS was an attempt to re-imagine the werewolf myth-to take it out of the Middle Ages and the Universal film classics and present it in a new way. When I showed the first draft to my then-editor, he absolutely didn’t understand it. The original manuscript was around 550 pages and had a lot of epic outdoor action scenes. It was an attempt to create horror in the wide-open spaces. By the time, the book was published in 1979, the manuscript was cut to 300 pages, and most of the story took place in a town. I made most of the changes myself (I didn’t have any publishing clout at the time and figured that I had to compromise to get the book in print). I did more than cut. I changed the style and many of the scenes. It’s written in unrhymed meter. You can scan it the way you would a poem. The idea was to use the rhythm of the prose to control the reader’s heartbeat. Very fancy stuff. I like the result, but I always missed the big outdoor action scenes and a number of characters that I had to eliminate. So in the 1990s, I asked the specialty publisher Donald M. Grant to print what I call the “complete and unaltered” version. That’s the version that’s currently in print in the U.S. Almost twice as long with a different first and third act but without the unrhymed meter. The Headline British version is by contract the version as it was published in 1979. They’re two different books with different styles but a sometimes-common plot.
Ali: You have published limited editions from Donald Grant, Cemetery Dance, and Subterranean Press among others. Do you feel that the small press and collectors editions have a future in these days of mass-market dominance?
David : I’ve been published by several small presses. In fact, in the U.S., my new short story collection NIGHTSCAPE is available in hardback only in a 1500 copy signed edition from Subterranean Press. There is also a Headline UK edition. Small presses are sometimes called “specialty” presses. Exactly. If I think a project is too special for a mass-market edition, I know exactly where to go to get a publisher. These types of presses are particularly valuable in a mass-market dominated culture that doesn’t take chances with risky kinds of stories. Lawrence Block has issued a number of small printings of his early work through Subterranean Press. It’s a way of keeping books alive and in print. Thank heaven these presses exist.
Ali: I can still recall reading your first two panoramic thrillers ‘The Brotherhood of the Rose’ and ‘The Fraternity of the Stone’ back-to-back when I should have been working on my PhD thesis. These are vividly realised thrillers, and I would like to know how they came about?
David : In 1982, prior to THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE ROSE, I had attempted my first international thriller, a loosely autobiographical novel called BLOOD OATH, in which a professor whose father died in WWII decides to face painful memories and visit his father’s grave in France. But when he gets there, he discovers that there isn’t any grave. Accumulating evidence makes clear that his father wasn’t killed. The hero sets out to learn what the hell happened. The autobiographical section involves a long speech that the hero gives in which he describes how traumatized he felt as a kid, growing up without a father. That novel was originally 550 pages long compared to the 300 pages of FIRST BLOOD. But I had made a mistake in thinking that a big book meant more words, which led to overdone descriptions etc. By the time the editing process was over, the book’s manuscript was (drum roll) cut down to 300 pages. But the experience of writing BLOOD OATH made me eager to try another book like it. I was thinking of ways in which the white collar tradecraft and intelligence of John Le Carre (particularly in the Smiley books) could be matched with the blue collar, back-alley espionage action of someone like Robert Ludlum. I had just read THE MATARESE CIRCLE and THE BOURNE IDENTITY and was impressed by their energy. I don’t think Ludlum is an especially good prose writer, but in the best of his early work, he certainly knew how to dramatize action. So that matching of the British and the American approach was my goal. Then I learned about a male orphanage in Philadelphia that was actually a military school in which the orphans wore uniforms and practiced marching drills with unloaded guns and learned military history and read military novel and basically were conditioned to enter the military when they graduated from high school. Ninety percent of one graduating class died in Vietnam during the Tet offensive. Well, I suppose it was inevitable that it would be attracted to that kind of situation involving orphans, given that I myself had been in an orphanage. Gradually the story of Chris and Saul and their CIA foster father evolved. The latter character Eliot was modelled on a real-life CIA counter-espionage legend, James Jesus Angleton. Angleton grew orchids. I changed the orchids to roses because the rose is the ancient symbol of silence and secrecy: sub rosa, under the rose. When I finished, I wanted to do a second book like BROTHERHOOD, which became THE FRATERNITY OF THE STONE. And then, in a third book THE LEAGUE OF NIGHT AND FOG, the hero of FRATERNITY (an orphan) met the remaining brother of BROTHERHOOD. It was the end of a trilogy and a double sequel. Great fun to do.
Ali: How did your mentor Stirling Silliphant become involved in the excellent TV adaptation of ‘The Brotherhood of the Rose’?
David : I kept in touch with Stirling over the years. In 1985, over the Fourth of July weekend, we decided that I should come to Los Angeles and spend a long weekend with him and his family. BROTHERHOOD had just come out in paperback, so I brought him a copy. He read it, got excited, and went to NBC, where he was much in demand. There had never been a big action miniseries. NBC liked the project and hired me to write the script and Stirling to produce it. As so often happens, there were a number of other writers along the way, including Stirling. In the end, because of a TV writers’ strike, some of the dialogue was taken directly from the novel. One of the other writers got credit for the script.
Ali: With ‘The Night of League and Fog’, you ended up with a trilogy that has the theme of Father and Son relationships. What I found poignant and very sad was the linkage with your own absent father, and then your own personal tragedy with your son Mathew. Looking back at these three remarkable books, what are your feelings about them now?
David :When I was writing THE LEAGUE OF NIGHT AND FOG, I had planned to do a fourth book in THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE ROSE series. The plot would have developed from the deliberately dangling plot thread at the end of NIGHT AND FOG, where we learn that the attack on the village at the start of the book was not what it seemed. But my plans changed when I started the fourth book. First, Saul and Drew had such complicated histories that it took me too many pages to re-establish their characters before moving the story forward. Second, and more crucial, my fifteen-year-old son got cancer when I was writing NIGHT AND FOG. The series is about sons (orphans) searching for fathers, but after my son’s death, I became the father searching for the son, a theme I developed in a number of short stories and in a novel DESPERATE MEASURES. Basically, I could no longer identify with the characters. I did use the Fraternity of the Stone organization in a later book THE COVENANT OF THE FLAME. For the Warner Books paperback of NIGHT AND FOG, I wrote an introduction that discusses this issue in detail.

Page 1 Of 2  [Page 2]


Top of page

  Webmaster: Tony 'Grog' Roberts        [Contact]