The Members' Blog
Voice of the Dead, my interview with Paul Carson, author of Inquest
Paul Carson is a man of action. He gets things done methodically and forensically, just like his character, Mike Wilson in Inquest. Carson didn’t set out to be a writer. Like many, the opportunity presented itself one way and his trajectory took off in another. The first opportunity arose from necessity. Back in the early eighties there was little by way of women’s health published, so he penned a regular health column for a magazine, followed by seven health books.
His creative writing coincided with fatherhood, reading bedtime stories to his daughter, he got the idea he could improve on them and published two children’s books.
That’s all very well, but popular adult fiction requires a very different mindset. Prevarication and a blank page, never mind plot and character paralysis, can leave you gazing at the wall, which only leads to counting cobwebs and taking out a sweeping brush.
Carson doesn’t seem to suffer from domestic distraction; he told me recently that he works from home in a converted attic, amid the ironing. To be honest, ironing would never distract me either.
We had lunch to discuss his sixth crime thriller, the very chilling, Inquest, which has just been issued in paperback and I ask if he had writer’s block since there was a six-year gap since he published. He confides that he feels lucky to be alive, let alone to be writing. He developed leukaemia ten years ago and during his long recovery he couldn’t continue his medical practice. To keep occupied he wrote two thrillers. But found writing a lonely experience and missed his patients, which is something writers rarely admit; it is an extraordinarily isolating experience.
Carson slowly re-built his medical practice and one evening got the idea for Inquest while watching the News and a parent outside the coroner’s court saying: ‘At last, my son’s voice was heard.’
Inquest is the first novel to focus on the Dublin Coroner’s Court, a court for the dead of Dublin. Where ‘there are unexplained deaths’, Carson says, ‘there are stories to be told and the majority of cases in the Coroner’s Court are suicide, drug overdose and murder’. Those voices deserve to be heard.
I wonder does he have a very technical approach to plot development; and ask if his wall is covered in graphs, maps, ballistic stats and cuttings of crime scenes.
‘On the contrary’ he smiles, and describes a very practical approach, suggesting that he and Jeffrey Archer share the same method: ‘I start at ‘once upon a time’ and keep going until I reach the end. That’s when you go back over it and do your edit and re-writes.’
And what about being a ‘popular fiction’ writer? ‘If writers are honest, they want to sell.’ He says he doesn’t believe in writing for the sake of it.
Judging by his sales he has a point. And who knows, Inquest could be the framework for a television series. Ireland could do with a high-calibre court and crime drama series. Paul Carson is a man with a plan.
You can watch some gory scenes taken from Inquest on YouTube http://youtu.be/5CiWG8Eqa38
Inquest is published by Random House.
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