Two brothers and a beautiful archaeologist exploring ancient mysteries in the Greek Isles get swept into a deadly maelstrom of Bacchanalian horror.
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INTERNATIONAL THRILLER WRITERS interview:
1) Looks like you have roots in Chicago and studied at a bunch of well-regarded universities. Can you tell me more about your education and background, and elaborate a little on how--if at all--it informed or influenced NIGHT OF THE FURIES?
Catholic grade school was probably more influential than any college or university. The school I went to was named after the Jesuit missionary, St. Isaac Jogues, who paddled a canoe into the wilderness and was martyred by the Mohawks. Eight years steeped in that Catholic mythology--the saints, the Devil, heaven, hell, the life and death of Jesus--all those stories and the fabulous artwork helped shape my imagination. Nothing I learned in my later schooling had anything near its effect.
The ancient Greeks had a very different, but equally rich mythology. Edith Hamilton's book on the subject was the first real book I ever read as a child. I thought it was some sort of history book, that the stories had actually happened way back in the distant past. Which of course is how the ancient Greeks thought of them, too, so I read them at the perfect age.
I hope all those kids reading Harry Potter will have a similar experience. I think it's really important--to have that exposure to the spiritual, heroic, imaginative side of life. What James Hillman calls "the invisibles." What I'm attempting with these adult "mythic thrillers" is to reawaken that childlike enchantment with the world, that inborn sense of the mystery of life.
2) In the same vein, why Greece? Do you have any particular connection to that setting?
I think when America was attacked on 9/11, it raised a lot of fundamental questions. Who are we? What do we stand for? What do we believe is worth dying for? A lot of us went scrambling back to rediscover the roots of our culture. And of course what we found was the Greeks.
My novel is a kind of fugue on freedom. Political freedom. Individual freedom. Sexual freedom. The boundaries and dangers and anxieties of freedom. And why certain cultures are afraid of it.
3) What is your favorite wine?
Two-Buck Chuck. The Cab. Absolutely. Just think of it: they grow the vines, pick the grapes, make the wine, bottle it, box it, store it, ship it, then a retailer stocks it and puts it up for sale--for two dollars a bottle. Two dollars. I mean, I know we're all down on capitalism these days, but this is completely amazing. And the fact that it's actually a decent wine. Inconsistent, but so what? So are a lot of the table wines you get in the south of France. Just throw out the bad bottle and open up another.
I wanted to serve it at our launch party for FURIES, but my wife refused. Sometimes there's just no reasoning with her.
4) From a nuts-and-bolts perspective, what do you find different about writing prose for a novel versus writing a screenplay or teleplay? Does one inform (or hinder) the other?
What you learn writing screenplays is story, story, story. You pare it down to the bone, the essential narrative spine. A single vertebra in the wrong place will throw the whole thing out of whack. Same with dialogue. You learn how to write it as a form of action, each spoken line another rail on the track, moving the story forward. And you learn how to hide exposition by employing it out in the open as drama.
I always do a full outline with a screenplay. Map it out as much as I can. But when I write a novel, there's much more room for exploration and discovery. I love digging deep into a moment or an idea, looking to uncover little treasures.
That's the main difference for me: Writing prose fiction is much freer than writing screenplays. You're not limited to that restrictive, demanding structure--the beats, the acts, the limitation to the visual, the insistence on brevity and speed. Screenplays are more like haiku than prose. You can barely get in a full sentence. And in a novel you have three more senses to utilize--smell, taste, and touch--rich terrain for delineating mood and emotion. In a novel, your "camera" can go absolutely anywhere, explore anything, everything. There's no budget ceiling, and the only technical limitation is your talent as a writer.
Novel writing is simply more satisfying. A well-written sentence can be a thing of joy. Best of all is that when you're done, rather than turning in a blueprint--basically a scratchpad for other people's notes--you end up with a finished product in your hands, a beautiful book with your name on it.
I agree completely with Fran Lebowitz: Screenwriting is not an art form, it is a punishment from God.
5) Do you feel the Romans ripped off or improved upon the Greek gods?
The Romans were very pragmatic. They took everything they could use from the Greeks, including their religion. It took centuries of Roman decadence to corrupt the extraordinary culture they inherited.
What was interesting to me in writing FURIES was the difference in their orgies. For the Greek Dionysian cults, the Maenad orgia was a rite of transcendence, an obliteration of self, a blending of bodies and minds. Roman orgies were power plays. A conscious probing of the erotic. The self remained intact, the mind always observing. Romans stayed bound to the physical world; Greek Maenads merged in madness with the Lord of Liberation, freeing themselves from matter.
6) What character, if any, do you find yourself identifying with in your work, and why?
All of them. I think you have to identify with each character or you'll fail to make them human. I identify with the older brother's passion, his inquisitiveness and daring. I understand Phoebe's desire for true love. Guys fall for pretty girls every day of the week. Are they falling in love with the girl, or falling in love with her face? And I suppose Jack, the narrator, is a version of me in my twenties--only maybe he's more skeptical than I was, a little less naive. He also seems to have a higher tolerance for alcohol and a greater capacity for physical courage. Jack is my youthful Odysseus.
Midnight. Three figures descend a perilous cliff to the ancient site of the Oracle of Delphi. Jack Duran has joined his older brother, Dan, to perform an unusual---and unauthorized---experiment. With the help of Dan's girlfriend, the brilliant young archaeologist Phoebe Auerbach, the trio will put the famous Oracle to the test.
Breathing fumes in the ruins of the Oracle's temple, Phoebe falls into a trance of possession and succumbs to a terrifying vision, a foreboding premonition of horrors to come---and a clue to the secret of the ancient Eleusinian Mysteries. The clue leads Jack and Dan to a magnificent yacht and a mind-blowing orgy that ends in a grisly killing. Now a fugitive on a mysterious island, Jack must enlist Phoebe's help to uncover the islanders' hidden past---and face the diabolical vengeance of the Furies.
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Book Description Thomas Dunne Books, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0312373708
Book Description Book Condition: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 97803123737021.0
Book Description Thomas Dunne Books, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0312373708
Book Description Thomas Dunne Books, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110312373708
Book Description Thomas Dunne Books. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0312373708 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW6.1093481