Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Interview for Blood Bound Books about The Return

I have just completed an interview for Blood Bound Books about my novel The Return as part of their promotional campaign.

***INTERVIEW with David A. Riley*** Details on the RETURN while we chat about gangsters and Lovecraft.

1)BBB: Tell us a little about The Return.

RILEY: The Return is the culmination of a number of stories I have written over recent years about Edgebottom and its notorious area of Grudge End (Lock-In, The Fragile Mask on his Face, Old Grudge Ender, The True Spirit, The Worst of all Possible Places). For a long time I had also been interested in the idea of merging the crime genre with Lovecraftian horror. I didn't want to write another pastiche of the Cthulhu Mythos. With Gary Morgan I had a protagonist who is the antithesis of the normal Lovecraftian hero, a tough, no nonsense professional hitman on the run after carrying out a gangland murder in London, who makes the one mistake of returning for what he thinks will be a last, almost nostalgic look at his old hometown. To his increasing horror he soon finds that its violent, diabolical past is even more dangerous than the criminal world in which he has lived for the past few decades.

I wanted to blend the dark atmosphere of crime noir with the even darker atmosphere of a Lovecraftian horror story, whilst making the novel as grittily realistic as possible in an almost kitchen sink kind of way.

2) BBB: The Return is a story about coming home. Is there anything mysterious or diabolical about your hometown? Any reasons you may not want to go back?

RILEY: I have never lived all that far from my home town of Accrington, other than when I moved to Blackburn after I got married, five miles away. I lived there for seven years.

Of course the most notorious event in the history of this area concerns Pendle Hill, which rises ominously to the west of Accrington only a few feet shy from being a mountain. It was the home of the infamous Lancashire Witches who were tried and hanged at Lancaster in 1612. Their story has been featured in several books, from Harrison Ainsworth's The LANCASHIRE WITCHES, Robert Neill's MIST OVER PENDLE and, more recently, Jeanette Winterson's THE DAYLIGHT GATE, soon to be filmed by Hammer (http://www.pendlewitches.co.uk/). Many of the descriptions for Edgebottom are based on my hometown—and on other Lancashire towns as well; I've cherrypicked the features that suit my vision of Edgebottom the most. If you look at the history of many places in Lancashire most are filled with violence, especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when rioters, like the Luddites, were fired on by troops and the surrounding moorlands were plagued with footpads and highwaymen.

Although most were shut down years ago, it's an area that was once justifiably stigmatized for its "dark satanic mills", which dominated most towns in the industrial parts of Lancashire, something I have highlighted with Malleson's Mill in my novel.

3) BBB: The Return focuses on Gary Morgan who is a gangster. In America we tend to think about New York's Five families, Chicago's Al Capone, etc.Who are a few of your favorite historical gangsters? Are there UK equivalents to these US gangsters?

RILEY: The UK has certainly had more than its fair share of real life gangsters—and still has! In writing The Return, the ones that were influential on me were two of the most notorious: the Kray twins in East London and, more particularly, the Richardson brothers, who were malignantly powerful in South London in the 1960s. The Richardsons were infamous for holding mock trials during which victims were tortured and sometimes killed. Though both the Krays and Richardsons are long gone, gangs in the UK still exist, possibly even more violent than they used to be. They certainly use guns more often than in the past even though they are illegal here.

Fictionally, Ted Lewis's outstanding novel JACK'S RETURN HOME, more well known as GET CARTER from the classic crime thriller starring Michael Caine, was influential when completing THE RETURN. One reviewer actually described it as Get Carter Meets Cthulhu!

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