An uncomfortable fulcrum

An uncomfortable fulcrum

If you live long enough and have had a reasonable time along the way, you get to the point where you seem to be either talking about your last colonoscopy or planning your next one.  Let’s face it, no matter hard you deny it or ignore it, bits of you wear out and break and there is a very definite point along the way, where you have to accept  this reality.  How you deal with it is a whole other thing. Personally, no matter how in bits I look, I use the man mirror technique.  Simply look at your reflection, rub you balding head or your expanding waist line, then smile, give yourself the thumbs up and say …”Still got it.”  If you have fading eyesight it helps.

Aging and approaching death are something I address in my books. Hattie’s graceful aging in Darkly Wood, James Delaney’s sense of the imminent in Bad Blood, death is quite central in Little Big Boy but of course, Larry Flynn is the book where I play with it most.

Every writer has favourite bits of their own books or indeed favourite characters.  I quite simply adore poor old Larry.  To use the terminology of the book and a common Irish expression, he is an ‘auld bollix’.  (Pardon the language)  Larry’s call to action after years of emptiness, largely emanates from his impending demise.  They say nothing would ever get done if it wasn’t for the last minute and I wanted Larry Flynn to be a book about missed opportunities, last chances and leaving things too late.

I played with the opening forever because I didn’t want him to be a likeable old rogue, I wanted the reader to see the sneer on his face and the scent of bitterness to ooze from the page.  However, while not strictly what the book is about, I had to write about something that was extremely difficult for me. Unusually for me, with this book I think I actually re-wrote two particular scenes several times to get what I wanted.  The reason for this was that the book balances somewhat, on two rapes that occur decades apart, neither of which Larry is directly involved in, but both of which dramatically affect how he perceives the world and represent turning points for him as a character.

The difficulty of course is that I needed to make a clear distinction between both events, not because I see the horror of rape to be a graduated crime.  Which victim is less traumatised than another, which perpetrator is viler than his counterpart?  These were not questions for me to ask or answer, rather both attacks needed to be seen in a different light for Larry to be understood.  Despite the fact that each scene is tiny in the context of the book, it was a huge and onerous task for me I have to admit. I didn’t want anything to be gratuitous but there needed to be clarity to distinguish one event from the other in Larry’s eyes, for a while at least.  How did I go about achieving it?  Well in one instance, the victim and attacker are friends and I chose to focus on their particular perception of what was happening, rather than how I might perceive such a thing or indeed how a reader might consider it.  There was of course an element of danger in this, because if I got it wrong the book wouldn’t have worked and I risked offending and alienating readers.

The second attack is more about the violence, terrorism and control involved and had to be more frightening in a way.  While I made clear the fear and horror from the victim’s point of view in each case, the second attack had to be crueler and for Larry it had to lead to an understanding of the truth about what he has become.

In a sense it is an uncomfortable fulcrum on which the plot and Larry in particular, are finely balanced.   The knowledge that death lurks, our understanding of mortality and what mark we leave are all part of Larry’s transission throughout the book.   While the events in the present day part of the story move along rapidly over a short space of time, the story dips back to events of the past, so Larry is forced to confront some unpleasant home truths and I had to make that happen quickly.

It was for this reason that I used these two shocking events, one from the past that Larry knew about, but placed his own sanitised agenda on top of because of subsequent events, and one in the present that while Larry was outside of it, he certainly has a culpability in what occurs.  He had to become conscious in a way.  Larry needs to escape the world of adjusted recall that he uses to justify his actions in the present.  The events of the past explode into reality with the madness he creates in the present.  Salvation and redemption can only be found by facing up to his responsibility.  Therein lies the balance for me.

Larry Flynn makes an unholy alliance to get what he wants. I stole a little from Shakespeare with Larry.  I recalled the melancholy of Antonio (“In sooth, I know not why I am so sad. It wearies me; you say it wearies you; but how I caught it, found it, or came by it, what stuff ‘tis made of, whereof it is born, I am yet to learn; and such a want with sadness makes of me, that I have much ado to know myself.”) and the bitterness of Shylock  ( “So can I give no reason, nor I will not, more than a certain loathing I bear Antonio, that I follow thus a losing suit.”) and combined them into the sad bitter old man, wanting revenge he can’t freely have without consequences.  This is a book about love lost, a book about revenge and hatred. Much like Shylock, Larry’s warped hierarchy of values give him a lust for vengeance that takes precedence over everything even himself and creating for me one of my favourite characters still, the incomparable Larry Flynn…

Watch the trailer for Larry Flynn on Youtube here:

Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –

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