Today I’m on the blog tour for In The Dark by Andreas Pfluger, published by Head of Zeus. For the tour I have a Q&A with the author himself to talk about his new novel and all things writing. As always please check out all the other stops on this tour.
She lost her sight, but she can still see the truth… Jenny Aaron was once part of an elite police unit tracking Germany’s most dangerous criminals. She was the best. Until it all went wrong. A disastrous mission saw her abandon a wounded colleague and then lose her sight forever. Now, five years later, she has learnt to navigate a darkened world. But she’s still haunted by her betrayal. Why did she run? Then she receives a call from the unit. They need her back. A prison psychologist has been brutally murdered. And the killer will only speak to one person…
Welcome to the CKT blog, Andreas
To start off with, could you tell us about your new novel In The Dark?
It’s about Jenny Aaron. She is a very skilled lady – physical and intellectual – and belongs to a German special police unit called “the Department”, where she is the only woman under forty men. The story starts in Barcelona, where Aaron loses her eyesight in a shooting. She fight back to life and five years later she comes to Berlin for the first time after going blind. A prisoner is accused of having killed a woman in jail. And he only wants to talk to one person: Jenny Aaron.
Your main protagonist has lost her sight but still needs to track down a serial killer. Did you find it easy to write from her point of view or did you find this a challenge?
The main story isn’t about the hunt for a serial killer. This man is only the reason why she is returning to Berlin. IN THE DARK is about another duel: between Aaron and the men who shot that bullet into her head – her nemeses.
No, it was not easy to create a book like this. It was the biggest challenge of my artistic life. To write a novel from the point of view of a blind person means the same as if asking somebody who is blind by birth to write a book from the point of view of a seeing person. I didn’t know that when I started but I had to learn it.
Your novel has such an interesting concept, especially with your main character. How did you come up with the idea for your new novel?
I was reading a biography of Jacques Lusseyran, a French philosopher who went blind by the age of nine in 1930. When the Nazis occupied France he became the head of a resistance cell in Paris. He talked to every new candidate for the cell in confidence. It was risky because they never knew if some Nazi agent was among them. But Lusseyran’s people had great trust in him and said: “Let’s wait till the blind man has seen him.” This was the big bang of my novel: A blind police woman who was able to distinguish the truth from the lie in a way only a blind person could.
How did you get into writing, both as a scriptwriter and as a published author? Have you always wanted to write?
I wanted to become a writer as long as I can remember. When I was eight I wrote little stories and sold them to my family for half a Deutschmark. You see I always had a strong feeling for the economic side of the business. And I never saw myself a screenwriter. I am a storyteller, it doesn’t matter if it’s a film or a novel.
Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process, do you plot your story out first or dive right in and see where it takes you? Do you have a different writing process for your novel writing compared to your scriptwriting?
When I write for film I always develop a plan, a kind of a roadmap, a treatment with a beginning, a middle and an end. A screenplay has a lot to do with mathematics. You have to follow rules. Nobody has invented it anew in the last eighty years. While writing a novel you are much more free in your storytelling. Not even because you don’t have to think about a budget, but mainly because you make up your rules yourselves. I start with a very vague idea and let my figures tell their stories. More or less I’m only their chronographer. All the time I get surprised by them. Sometimes they do things that I don’t understand or do not approve. But it’s their lives not mine.
Are you working on anything at the moment, if so could you tell us a little bit about it without giving too much away?
The books about Jenny Aaron are a trilogy. The second part came out in Germany in the beginning of October. It takes place in Sweden, Berlin, Rome, Marrakesh and Avignon and, like IN THE DARK, is a story about revenge. At the end of the year I’ll start to write the third book with my blind heroine. To be true – I still don’t know what will happen. But as I said: That’s the way I write novels. It’s always an adventure and a journey in an unknown land.
And finally, just for fun, if you could have a dinner party for three select guests, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Raymond Chandler, my favourite crime writer.
Sengo Muramasa, the best Japanese swordsmith (because Jenny Aaron follows the Bushido, the codex of the samurai.)
Winston Churchill, the politician I most admire.
Thank you so much, Andreas for taking the time to answer my questions for my blog.
About the Author: Andreas Pflüger is a German screenwriter and author. He has written a number of episodes of the hugely popular German police procedural Tatort. In the Dark is published in eight languages.