As part of the Hellbound Blog Tour I am delighted to be able to welcome David McCaffrey to Grab This Book.
David very kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions surrounding his debut novel, Hellbound, and has also given me an insight into his own reading preferences.
As I had the opportunity, I also tried to squeeze a little extra information from him regarding what may come next for the Hellbound cast – there is good news on that front as you will see…
So with my profound thanks to David I opened with an ‘easy’ one:
Why do you think we (as readers) enjoy serial killer stories given the reality is such a horrific concept?
I think we’re fascinated with the concept of absolute evil and how someone can become so devoid of empathy and remorse. There could be many reasons for this fascination…it is because we feel sorry for the events that lead them to become that way? Is it because we sometimes see aspects of ourselves in their character? It’s acknowledged that you cannot have good without evil, light without darkness. And because of this, as readers, we find ourselves eager to see what horrific acts characters can get up to and what will be done to defeat them.
After all, are they not the more interesting? We seek to find those moments where we can feel affinity with the shadier side of human nature because, as a contradiction, it also makes us feel safe. We know that evil is simply an excuse for unacceptable behaviour and that, if the surface of it is scratched, like a poorly rendered wall it will crumble away.
I think we’ll always find evil personable because at its core, we need to believe that there is more to it than simply basic desire to cause harm and that such characters are more complex than that. That good and evil are but two sides of the same coin. As Obadiah Stark tells Father Hicks prior to his execution “Evil is simply live spelt backwards.”
I am keen to avoid spoilers, however, within Hellbound a group called The Brethren feature on occasion. I loved the premise of The Brethren is there any chance they may feature in a subsequent title?
Absolutely!! I am currently working on a Hellbound novella titled ‘In Extremis’ which deals with the birth of The Brethren and how their journey began utilising a famous character from history (alluded to at the end of Hellbound!!). They initially see themselves as altruistic, but as history has often illustrated, our most famous despots and totalitarian literary creations often start believing they’re righteous in their quest. As to whether they are right or wrong, that’s for the reader to decide!
Joe O’Connell is the primary character within Hellbound (other than Stark). Do you see Joe’s Story as having reached a natural conclusion or would you consider bringing him back?
I have a beat sheet for a follow up to Hellbound, and Joe is integral to the plot but not the main character. You rightly point out that his story does reach a natural end point, but as to whether he still has a part to play, that would be telling!
Within the story O’Connell is writing a book which reflects the story of Stark without sensationalising his crimes. I felt that Hellbound also took this approach, murders are detailed but not in a tone which may convey ‘schlock horror’ was this an intentional symmetry?
It was. When writing it, I had two rules I made integral to his character. One, he couldn’t do anything sexually violent towards women (or men for that matter) and two, he couldn’t harm children in anyway. My justification for this was simple; as odious and evil a character as I made him, if he broke either of those two rules then the reader would never be able to sympathise with him, no matter the extent of his suffering. At the end I don’t expect the audience to like him, as I made him intensely dislikeable on purpose, but I made him dislikeable within the parameters of his own morality. By doing this, readers can hopefully sympathise with his plight and not feel guilty for feeling sorry for such an evil individual. Because ultimately, Obadiah’s journey throughout Hellbound does suck ever so slightly.
Stark’s crimes were split between Ireland and the US? Have you visited the areas depicted (or how did you come to select the regions you used)?
I have been to both countries (my Dad’s family are from Kerry)…I love Ireland and would live there one day if circumstances allow. The reason I chose Ireland for the supermax, ADX Absolom, was because The Blasket Islands are extremely desolate (Ryan’s Daughter was filmed there) and it seemed a haunting and lonely place to build a prison with only Artic Terns for company. I also wanted to play a little with convention and set it somewhere other than the United States. Having Obadiah emigrate there and ultimately return home seemed to lend the narrative a slightly cyclic feel in regards to his rationale for choosing to his victims.
On a more personal level, what do you enjoy reading? Who do you consider to be your favourite authors?
I’m pretty eclectic when it comes to reading! I enjoy thrillers, the occasional horror story, biographies, science fiction. I recently read I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes which is one of the best thrillers I have read in a long time. John Grisham, Steve Alten, George R. R. Martin, Stephen King are probably my all-time favourite authors, but I do enjoy Stephen Leather’s Jack Nightingale books and anything by Lee Child (then again, doesn’t most of the world!!). Two of the most exciting books I recently read were The Willow Tree by Bekki Pate and The Element Order by P.S Ferns, two fellow authors whom I know and who have crafted really stunning debut novels…worth checking out!
When do you find time to write?
Usually on a night when my children have gone to bed. I’ll spend an hour or so most days at the computer, but often I’ll have a random idea or thought about adding to a chapter and say to Kelly ‘I’m just going to write this up before I forget’ and disappear for a few hours!
What comes next for David McCaffrey?
I have the Hellbound prequel drafted and am in the process of editing, I have two beat sheets completed; one for a Hellbound sequel and one for an completely unrelated title about a deadly infection with the working title ‘Pathogenicity’ (working in Infection Control and the currently Ebola concerns, it now seems appropriate!!). I have a few other ideas floating about in drafts that I’m always toying with. At the moment I’m just so pleased people seem to be enjoying Hellbound! I always knew it was a hard sell, but that if people gave it a chance they’ll find it’s something a little different and not quite what they expect…which seems to be the case!!!
My thanks to David and to Crime Book Club (@crimebookclub).
The tour concludes tomorrow (Jan 10th) at email@example.com