The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Christopher Bowden

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Christopher Bowden

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Summary: Jill thought that The Green Door was an absorbing,evocative and truly enjoyable read. She had a few questions for author Christopher Bowden when he popped into Bookbag Towers.
Date: 21 October 2014
Interviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy

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Jill thought that The Green Door was an absorbing,evocative and truly enjoyable read. She had a few questions for author Christopher Bowden when he popped into Bookbag Towers.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Christopher Bowden: I don’t write with a specific audience in mind but I think the people who most enjoy the books probably like the same sort of books as I do – good stories, well told, with interesting characters and underlying themes that make you think. Readers are, I suspect, quite varied but with a preference for literary fiction, perhaps, and novels involving mysteries or problems that need to be solved.

  • BB: What inspired you to write The Green Door?

CB: I wanted to give the main character, Clare Mallory, a book of her own. She has a small part in The Yellow Room and a larger one as the sensible elder sister in The Red House. I felt there was much more to her. In the latest book, we find she is impulsive and less level-headed than she appears, with fears and insecurities of her own. This is developed and tested through a plot involving the unexpected loss of a locket that means a lot to her. Her quest to find it draws her into a dark episode of her family’s history and strands of past and present gradually intertwine in ways that pose a threat to her and others.

  • BB: Have you ever visited a psychic yourself?

CB: No but I did a fair amount of research on things like crystal balls and how to read them and interpret what you see.

  • BB: To what extent does the past impinge on the present?

CB: People and places are shaped by what has gone before. But there may be differing views, understandings or memories of what actually happened in particular cases, not least where the ‘truth’ has been massaged or suppressed. The ambiguity of the past is quite fruitful territory for a novelist. In my books, discoveries about the past, often initiated by chance events (in The Green Door, the loss of the locket), change the course of lives and thus the future too.

  • BB:

The Green Door fleshes out characters you've written into previous books. Are we likely to see Clare again any time soon?

CB: The Green Door leaves some loose ends so the opportunity is there to take things further forward in another book. That would involve Clare though not necessarily as the main character. I think I need to let the dust settle a bit and then take stock but it would be interesting to know what readers think about seeing more of her.

  • BB: Your book titles all have a colour in the title. Is there anything behind this?

CB: The first three covered the primary colours (blue, yellow, red). With green, I’ve moved on to the secondaries. This was not initially part of a grand scheme (The Blue Book was so-called simply because the book at the heart of the story had a blue cover) but I realised that colours had wider title possibilities and I have stuck to that approach. Each colour is related to objects or places or themes in the books themselves. In The Yellow Room, for example, there is an actual room of that name in the country house that features but the novel also explores other associations of yellow, such as sickness and cowardice, as well as the exuberance of a brighter shade.

  • BB: Where and how do you write?

CB: At a table in my study using a word processor. Before I begin a particular chapter, I make some manuscript notes beforehand on points to cover but I do not necessarily stick rigidly to them and, for the most part, I find that plot and characters develop in the writing process itself. I do not know the outcome of a novel when I start on it; part of the fun of writing is finding out what will happen.

  • BB: What would be your desert island book?

CB: Probably A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell – a book in twelve volumes! Rather dated now but impressive for its panorama of half a century of (a section of) English society and its extensive cast of characters.

  • BB: Which writers are your biggest influences?

CB: I’m not conscious of any specific influences but I admire Richard Ford, for example, for the rhythm of his prose (the ‘music’, as he called it) - and the role of chance and coincidence in Paul Auster’s novels has a certain resonance.

  • BB: What's next for Christopher Bowden?

CB: Another novel, I hope. If I stick to the colour theme, it could well be in the orange or violet part of the spectrum.

  • BB: That's something for us to look forward to, Christopher and thanks for chatting to us.

You can read more about Christopher Bowden here.

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