I have a piece over at Do Some Damage today running down the four books that inspired my new novel Four Days:
"My debut novel has a very meagre origin story. After years of messing around with writing — of trying epic novels, experimental flash fiction, literary shorts — I finally wrote what I thought someone else might read and enjoy. The manuscript I put together as an ‘entertainment’ (to borrow from Graham Greene) turned out to be a draft of Four Days and, to be honest, I was a little disturbed by it. I tried to do something accessible and trashy and melodramatic but turned out a densely plotted book about inherited corruption, sexual dysfunction and ultraviolence. Nevertheless, as I edited the manuscript I started to place it in a small, personal canon of books I loved. These were authors I knew full well I’d borrowed from. Sitting alongside these greasy crime novels below, I felt a little better about myself.
- Blood On The Moon by James Ellroy
James Ellroy is a huge influence on my work. Huge. I make no apologises at all for both studying his books and emulating his style. Everyone has their cornerstone (Ellroy had Chandler) and throughout Four Days, Ellroy was a devil on my shoulder, barking softly, telling me to go further. When it came time to outline my book, I went back to where I met Ellroy: the Lloyd Hopkins trilogy, which I read from the public library as a teen. Something about those early books called out to me and as I re-read Blood On The Moon I remembered this piece of trivia: Ellroy tried to write Blood On The Moon as a commercial potboiler for Avon. And yet he couldn’t do it. The Lloyd Hopkins books are some of his most straightforward stories but Hopkins gets impossibly bleak, dysfunctional and violent, and eventually the whole series slides into the abyss. That felt familiar. I couldn’t go straight either. "
Read the rest here.