It’s intriguing to dip into the interests of an author. For Jeffery Deaver it’s food. That is especially fascinating because he used to be fat when he was younger, lost the excess weight and became intensely passionate about fine food.
This was our second interview and each time it’s been around good food, which adds to the fun of the talk.
According to his latest book, The Kiss of Death...XO (Hodder & Stoughton, R195), music is another great love, and in this instance country music.
With music being much more out there than a few decades ago, most South Africans will know that country music in the US is bigger than it has ever been in this country. It also has a much larger base as well as a broad band of musicians to choose from.
What Deaver has cleverly done is tap into the contemporary world of music. Think about the current struggle of this world to find a way where easy and free downloads can be checked, other than relying on people’s integrity. That’s all good, but that kind of trust only works for a certain percentage and it’s a slippery slide that’s accelerating day by day.
Also think about all the job descriptions that are flying out of the window as quickly as more and more technology hits the market. It must be quite a scary place for many people who make their livelihood in this fluid a place. For some this kind of stress might push them into a very dark place.
Or it might, if you’re the writer and you’re trawling around in the music business which you know and love, present the perfect platform for a story. There’s also the celebrity angle – one Deaver would be familiar with. That adds stalkers to the pic- ture and if you’re Deaver, you can pick the way to go. There are plenty of red herrings and many different people who might have a reason to tangle with your superstar who is going forward with the concert even if it puts her life in danger.
Describing himself as an illusionist, not a novelist, Deaver hopes to excite and entice his readers by telling a story that will draw them into a world they might or might not know.
This time it’s the music audience he wanted to tap into. It’s also a field that is undergoing so much change on so many different levels, it allows for speculation and storytelling that can make wild assumptions. It’s that kind of world where one can wander a bit and keep the reader’s attention.
As much as this book focuses on the music industry, while Deaver is focused on food he’s also happy to talk about his love of food. He loves cooking and says he doesn’t make complicated meals but, just by reading him and talking to him, you know he is someone who makes a study of anything he deals with. I’m not sure whether simplicity is part of his vocabulary.
His past weight issues he attributes to a diet that lashed steak with extra butter or added gravy to mash. These days you won’t find that kind of excess. He would rather waste his calories on the good stuff and he knows how to balance and where to steal the odd calorie.
Talking books, he laments the fact that the business of selling books is dwindling. “General book sales have gone down,” he says.
But like the music business, the book world is also taking on a life of its own. It’s not really a problem, he ponders, because the business of printing books is hardly more than a century old. Like anything else, books will take on a life of their own and emerge as strong as ever. People will always be reading.
Just as writing has changed, from the tiresome writing by hand to typewriters and, now, the latest technology a writer wants to acquire, in similar fashion everything in the world today is evolving at breakneck speed. That’s what Deaver enjoys picking as his playing fields.
The last book I read and spoke to him about, The Broken Window, dealt with identity theft, and because of the topicality it was one I really enjoyed. Perhaps the topic interested me more than the music industry. With this one it sometimes felt as if the author was just explaining too much, as if the bits in between were becoming a tad tedious and, as a result, somewhat formulaic.
With Deaver, it will be a case of whether the topic grabs you or not.
It’s not that I was totally tuned out, I just turned the sound slightly softer.