Don’t stay away from this DOPE
PW: Your next novel Dope
is published later this year in the US and early 2006 in the UK – and
it’s a bit of a departure from your earlier books in that it’s
historical fiction. What attracted you to the action of Dope ?
SG: Well, lots of stuff. For years I had wanted to write a
mystery novel, but particularly a mystery novel with all the minor
characters made major. If you’re a fan of mystery books & noir
movies from the forties & fifties you’ll know what I mean: the
bums, the addicts, and most of all The Girls — I wanted to take the
background and make it the foreground. There’s a kind of formula, which
you also see a lot in contemporary fiction and film, of Nice Guy meets
Bad Girl and gets nothing but trouble. So I’d always thought, well,
what if you just get rid of the nice guy? I mean, who needs him? Why
not just shift the perspective over. So, with my main character being a
woman, a former drug-addict and very much a Bad Girl, in 1950 New York,
I got to play around with that.
I also was interested in how you can break some of the rules of a
mystery novel, while still including all that satisfies about a
mystery. I think to get into genre, you have to first of all love the
genre, even if you want to fuck with a bit. So, I don’t know if I
fulfilled my own rules here, but I tried, and it was fun.
Boy, did she ever. I could probably rhapsodize for hours if I had the chance, but I’ll limit my praise to this: everything, absolutely everything, is pitch-perfect. From the opening scene, a simple transaction that illuminates character in a variety of ways, to Josephine Flannigan’s valiant struggle against addiction, to the spare but decaying description of 1950s New York, to a plot that always surprises, and an ending that I never saw coming.
There is no earthly reason not to read this book.