I generally write about science, but this does not mean that I am only interested in science! I adore to write creatively, too, and I find that the best teachers of creative writing are accomplished authors, both past and modern. Hence, I read a lot of books! As a hungry reader, you can imagine my astonishment and excitement when the author Guy Mankowski asked me if I was interested in being one of the first persons to read his new book and write my opinion about it, even before the book was available for purchasing! Opportunities like this surely do not happen every day. Of course, I accepted, and since I found the book of outstanding quality, I want to share my thoughts here with you.
Dr. Mankowski (Ph.D. in Creative Writing; you can follow him at @Gmankow or visit his web page here) is a trained psychologist, a singer, and an accomplished British writer. He wrote The Intimates, How I Left The National Grid, and Letters from Yelena, which was ultimately adapted for the stage.
His latest work, An Honest Deceit, is a thriller set in today's England. The protagonist of the story is Ben, a school teacher whose life is turned upside down following the "accidental" death of his daughter Marine. But was her death really an accident? Together with his partner Juliette, his long-time friend Philip, and an unexpected, very magnetic character Violet, Ben decides to look for the truth. What he does not realize is how dangerous this can be when the enemy you stand against is the product of a corrupted and powerful system.
The beauty of this book resides in his actuality, and in the way the author eases the reader into it by choosing to tell the story directly from Ben's perspective. I was increasingly intrigued by the sharp descriptions of the characters that after a few pages take up a life of their own.
With this book I can genuinely say that Guy made me laugh, he made me cry some tears (you can trust me on this. The death of Marine is truly painful and unexpected); he made me feel outraged for the injustice that his protagonist is subject to. Once I started reading, I could not stop. I wanted to know more. If I have a criticism to make is that I wish the book were longer. I would have loved to be able to indulge in Ben's life for a few more pages.
Upon finishing the book, I had some questions left unanswered and, who better than the author himself can give insights on his brand new work. So here it goes a brief section of questions/answers to which Guy kindly agreed to contribute.
Daniela: Guy, you mentioned to me that this book was a long time in the making. Do you care to explain why this is and how you merged the initial idea of a book about family with the whistle-blower theme?
Guy: I'd been trying to write a debut novel for years with little success. When I finished The Intimates the dam burst and I couldn't stop writing. I wrote a first draft of this novel, which I called Marine, which to me was a study of grief and an inquiry into what constitutes the building blocks of a family. It was inspired by a short film on a DVD called Paris, Je t'aime by the Japanese Director Nobuhiro Suwa. In it, Juliette Binoche plays a mother who has a dream about the son she has just lost, and it's about her emotional need to will him back to life. I found it so profoundly moving that I had to write about the subject. Many years later, I opened the drawer and took this novel out - which in its existing state had no driving narrative. Events in my own life and the experience of editing the memoirs of a banking whistle-blower inspired me to weave this new narrative in to give this study of grief some movement. I became quite entrenched in my research on the subject of cover-ups and interviewed Andrew Jennings, who exposed the shocking corruption at FIFA, and all this informed the novel. I was fortunate to be awarded an Arts Council Grant for the Arts to then work the novel into a completed state. I attended New Writing North's evening classes on Crime Writing, where experts show how they catch criminals. Gradually, the end of the tunnel for this novel came into sight.
Daniela: During one of our conversations you mentioned to me: I put so much of myself in it, perhaps in this one more than any. Would you be willing to tell us more about this?
Guy: In my gradual transformation from a child/student into an adult, I've been struck by how difficult it is to survive in the modern world. It has slowly dawned on me that this emotional reaction is one based in fact - the baby boomer generation created a world in which people are expected to become adept in "double-think", that is to accept that matters are very different to how they evidently should be. My own experiences of making sense of being an adult, in work, and in following corruption stories that have captured my attention, all filtered into this novel. Fortunately, social media increasingly means cover-ups in the end come to light. My other big cause for positivity is that the younger generation, who are gradually assuming influence, seem to be inclined to run the world a little more honestly!
Please join me in thanking Guy, not only for sharing his perspective with us but first and foremost for writing this contemporary artwork. We need more modern talented writers socially aware that can awaken our interest about situations that we might not be aware of, and at the same time stimulate our imagination and accompany us hand by hand in their bubble of semi-fictional reality, a fantastic world that after all may not be so different from our everyday lives. I look forward to the book release in October this year!