Young New Zealand writer Ben Sanders shares the inspiration behind his latest crime thriller Marshall’s Law, and how all it took was a car at a diner for a story to unfold.
CW: You've published twenty-seven books in the space of a couple of decades. What's the relationship between the different kinds of writing you do?
MK: Well, I don't feel there's much relationship between the fiction and the non-fiction, say. Certainly my methods of working are quite different, and the times at which I'm working on them are quite different.
Landscape of Farewell is a celebration of friendship between two men of my own generation. The novel speaks of the shadow of the past they have each lived with in silence for the whole of their lives. It is the story of how their friendship empowers them to penetrate that silence and to give it a voice.
Around 1987 I'd written a poem, "The Lucky Women of the Lady Shore", which came out of an anecdote in Robert Hughes' The Fatal Shore, about an all-female convict ship bound for Botany Bay on which the crew mutinied "in the name of France" and sailed instead to Montevideo, where the convict women eventually became serving-women for wealthy Uruguayan families.
When is enough background research enough? (from Lois, QLD)
Lois, I wish I could answer this, but not only are research requirements story-specific, they're author-specific as well. All I can say is, you develop a feel for what works for you - but you only develop this by several times doing way too much and stopping yourself in your tracks with more information than you can feed into a story; or by trying repeatedly to skimp and having your story come out thin and unconvincing.
Jasper Jones began as a name that wouldn't let me go. I tried, but I couldn't shrug it away, and it began to occupy my thoughts at a time when they should have been elsewhere. I was in the midst of a slow moving second novel and living my own private sophomore slump. In short, I was panicking.
Frida Kahlo is an incredible icon to recreate. How much pressure did you feel to do her justice, and how did you go about reconstructing and re-imagining her life and these events?
The truth is, I imagined this novel without Frida, but she moved into it.
It was the bleak heart of the Howard years, and the height of the Children Overboard affair, when I first encountered the story of Edward Cole. I was immediately struck by the energy and flair of a man who led a life unconstrained by convention or public opinion.
You've always wanted to write a novel. Yet every time to sit down to write it, you are distracted by an overwhelming compulsion to clean the oven, phone your mother or feed the dog.