Quick Fire At The Slaughterhouse: Interview With Carole Morin

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Carole Morin is the author of four critically acclaimed novels. Her latest, Spying On Strange Men, is a Noir story injected with the author’s own highly individual style. It is obsessive and confessional, as the extract on her website demonstrates. Early success as a writer came when John Fowles described her story Thin White Girls, which won the Bridport short story competition, as ‘an intriguing blend of sophistication and innocence’. She worked at Granta, and tried to persuade Graham Greene to contribute. Her ability to write characters whose identities are partly self-fiction or who are on the verge of psychosis makes for compelling stories that leave you thirsty for more.

Carole Morin reads from Spying on Strange Men and answers questions at The Society Club. 12 Ingestre Place, Soho, London on 31st January 2013 at 18.30

Carole met me at The Slaughterhouse where we talked about the irrational and Noir.

Tell Us About Spying On Strange Men.

Spying on Strange Men is a twisted love triangle about Vivien Lash, her husband James and her rich movie director boyfriend. Kind of Double Indemnity without the insurance strangement01_300x224policy. They don’t need money to escape. She’s insuring herself against love. Before she escapes, she has to kill her husband.

‘Love and murder are almost the same thing anyway.’
Spying on Strange Men

‘Carole Morin is Sylvia Plath with a sense of humour.’
The Herald

To what extent are your characters governed by irrational impulses?

I don’t want to know the end of a story when writing the first draft. Or I may get bored and not want to finish. I imagine the book in my head for a long time before I write it. Then I write the first draft quite fast. And obviously I know the ending when I’m writing the second draft. At this stage it’s more about structure than story.

‘God isn’t in the details, He’s in the structure.’
Spying on Strange Men

I want the book to be perfect. A page-turner without squandering originality. So I attack it with a sledgehammer like a maniac. Or maybe I’m just mad, like a lot of writers. Of course that’s a joke. Writing is hard work and so is full blown insanity. You can’t do both at the same time. Vivien Lash came to life as my evil twin. But I’m not sure that’s irrational.

‘Vivien Lash is a girl with a future but not a past.’
Spying on Strange Men

It is commonly noted we live in an age of surveillance. How much is that a factor in the novel?

The story is set in 2001. Vivien Lash is an art terrorist but one with mischief not malice. At that time terrorism and art were both creating tension in London, where most of the book is set. And it’s before the days when it was really easy to stalk someone with locations apps. You had to actually slap a tail on them!

Vivien Lash is a retro spy, dressed Emma Peel meets Catgirl, shopping in the Spy Shop in South Audley Street, married to James Fucking Bond. She loves wigs and sunglasses. But her quest is really for love. Vivien Lash is stalking love as much as she is spying on her Creepy Neighbour.

‘I wanted to wake up with a new name, a new hair colour, and almost the same heart.’
Spying on Strange Men

Spying on Strange Men is tinged with Noir. How much do the characters in the novel fuck up because they are victims of their own flaws or do they choose to do so?

You’d have to read it and decide. I don’t explain my books. If you like my shoes you wouldn’t ask me to explain how they were made though you might ask where I bought them.

I like to leave some blank space for the reader to breathe. The psychology of the characters, the unspoken thoughts in their heads, is part of that space. Reading is sometimes considered passive but apart from being an escape into another world, an entertainment and sometimes an education; reading is an inter-active experience.

Flyer (Launch)_300x425If I was a reader , I’d describe Spying on Strange Men as Screwball meets Noir because its dark glamour is tinged with hilarity.

The test of a good book is do you think about it afterwards? Do you imagine while walking around Soho maybe that you see Vivien Lash following a strange man? Does it come to life in your head the way it has in mine?

‘Imagination is all we have in the end.’
Spying on Strange Men

You can buy a copy of Spying On Strange Men signed by the author from http://carolemorin.co.uk/buy-a-copy/ and read an extract here.

Carole Morin reads from Spying on Strange Men and answers questions at The Society Club, 12 Ingestre Place, Soho, London on 31st January 2013 at 18.30.

Thank you Carole for an insightful and entertaining interview.


Get a signed copy of Spying on Strange Men.

Find Carole on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

And if you’re in London, stop by The Society Club this Thursday at 6:30pm.

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