Linda Barnes Interviews the Victim in Her New Mystery, The Perfect Ghost.
With a tip of the hat to Rhys Bowen who interviewed her heroines last year, I decided to try my hand at interviewing a main character in my new book. I have to admit it surprised me when none other than Theodore Blake, the famous ghostwriter who does most of the interviews in The Perfect Ghost, showed up and seated himself in my black Aeron chair.
Linda Barnes: So, Teddy, welcome.
Theodore Blake: Listen, I thought I was going to be the main character in this book.
LB: I did too, at the beginning.
TB: I’m the writer. How could you kill off the writer?
LB: You’re one of a pair of writers in The Perfect Ghost. Half of a pair.
TB: But I was the one who did everything. I handled the interviews, the travel. I’m the one who went to Cape Cod and took photographs of Coast Guard Beach and the Chatham Light.
LB: Teddy, I love the Cape. I’ve vacationed there for years, in Eastham and Brewster and Falmouth. My aunt was a WAVE who listened for German U-boat signals off the Chatham coast in World War II. I didn’t need your photographs.
TB: But I do the public relations, all the stuff you –
TB: Are — shall we say — reluctant to do? You need me.
LB: Teddy, I think I can handle it.
TB: You think you can. You’re already sorry you did me in.
LB: I was very fond of you.
TB: Did you model me on someone you know?
LB: Teddy, I would never tell.
TB: I was someone, wasn’t I?
LB: You’re a composite. I admit that. I often do that, take a little bit of one person, a mannerism, a habitual gesture, and mix it with a dash of someone else –
TB: Sounds like you’re tossing pepper into a stew. Was it someone you knew at BU?
LB: Boston University? That was years ago.
TB: Writers don’t forget, do they? Revenge is very big with writers. Whenever I interview writers they’re like that, remembering and exaggerating the slightest slight.
LB: I don’t know what you’re talking about, Teddy.
TB: Or was it someone you used to act with? Or teach with? A colleague? Someone in the family?
LB: Teddy, this is ridiculous. It’s fiction.
TB: Fiction comes from somewhere.
LB: Observation, Teddy. And imagination. You work with what’s out there in the world. When I was an acting student, I had this professor who told us to go out and follow people on the subway, to study them, learn, imitate the way they sat and stood and walked and breathed. I still do that, some days.
TB: Let’s talk about that professor.
LB: He taught us to work from the outside — from the physical imitation of a person — to the inside, to what they were feeling.
TB: No, no, who was he? What was his name?
LB: Teddy, you’re missing the point entirely. These weren’t people I knew. I just followed them. I made up their interior lives. The same way I —
TB: I want to come back, Linda. Really I didn’t get to finish. I was so close to finding out what I needed to know. Just give me a chance, a final chapter, an epilog –
LB: It’s too late for that, Teddy.
TB: What do you mean “too late”?
LB: The book hits stores today.
Linda Barnes, a graduate of Boston University’s College of Fine Arts, is a winner of the Anthony and American Mystery awards, and a Shamus and Edgar nominee. Publisher’s Weekly calls her most recent book, The Perfect Ghost, “a captivating story of love, rivalry, and revenge.” She has written 16 previous novels, 12 featuring 6’1” redheaded Boston private investigator, Carlotta Carlyle, in “one of the best private-eye series ever.” (Harlan Coben) She was born in Detroit where she learned a lot about crime.
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