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R.J Ellory and "Le Carnaval des Ombres"

Hello how are you?

I am well, thank you. To be honest, I have never been busier. I am working on numerous projects – new books, a new album with the band, films, TV series, upcoming concerts – and this is the way I like my life to be!

You have a new book to your credit, "Le Carnaval des ombres", so are you happy, stressed or just happy?

I am always happy when a new book is released. Obviously, I am very interested to find out how it will be received, but I have the most amazing fraternity of readers, bloggers and journalists in France, and the support and encouragement I am given is like nowhere else in the world. It is a different book, once again, and I think it deals with some very interesting characters and events from recent history. It’s a book that was published some years ago in the UK, but still remains very fresh in my mind.

If you had to describe this book in 3 words, what would it be?

Magical. Mystifying. Unexpected.

Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

My own fascination with the FBI, the CIA, the creation and evolution of these organisations and how they worked so hard to control so many people and create so much fear and negative propaganda. I am also fascinated by philosophy, the true nature of Man, where we came from, where we’re going, why we’re here. I think all of myh books are an exploration into the human psyche, and the narrative and the characters that I create are a means by which that exploration can be made. I am interested in the decisions people make in their own lives, the way those decisions influence the lives of others, and also the broader consequences of the thigns people do and say.

What was the trigger that made you want to write novels?

I was always creatively-orientated, right from an early age.  My primary interests were in the field of art, photography, music, such things as this.  Not until I was twenty-two did I consider the possibility of writing.  I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine about a book he was reading, and he was so enthusiastic!  I thought ‘It would be great to create that kind of an effect’. That evening – back in November of 1987 – I started writing my first book, and over the next six years I wrote a total of 23 novels. Once I started I couldn’t stop, and now I think it just took me those first twenty-two years of my life to really discover what I wanted to do.  Now it seems like such a natural part of me and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Why write about this mystery and not another subject?

I don’t think I choose my subjects. I think they choose me. I have many, many ideas for books, and there are so many things I could write about. However, there are some stories and ideas that just haunt me and they won’t leave me alone. The only way to ‘exorcise’ them is to write them, and this was one of those stories. I have written about the Kennedys, the Mafia, Hollywood, the CIA, the NYPD, the death penalty and so many other subjects. I guess that whatever I write about there could always be so many other things to write about. I just have to go with the subject that fascinates me the most and hope that it is of interest to others as well.

Are the characters fictional or did the story really exist?

As is the case with all the books I have written, the characters are fictional but the background and the history is based on factual events and substantial research.

With all the books you have written, which one is the most accomplished?

That is impossible to say! I don’t think a writer is in a position to make a judgement about his or her own work. I do the very best that I can with each book. I try to make each book as good as it can be. I always try to write better, to research better, and to say more with less words. It’s an ongoing process, of course. I look at previous books and I can now see how I would have written them in a different way, but I am not unhappy with the work that I have published. Which is the best book? That would be the next one, and then the one after that, and then the one after that!

Did you honestly say to yourself one day I'm going to stop everything, I'm going to retrain in another job or not?

No. Impossible. I am who I am. This is what I do. I write, I read, I make music, I take photographs, I make films, I compose, I travel and meet people and we talk about books and music and films. I have never had a real job, and I don’t want one. Of course, that has its own sacrifices, and you enver experience a sense of stability or security, but it has worked out okay so far and I have no interest or intention to change it.

Many people love you, including my mom and me, how do you explain this success?

I cannot, and I don’t try to explain it. I think I write with honesty. I think my writing is driven by a love for writing. I think I am constantly working to better understand myself and other people so I can write about life and reality more accurately. I have no pretentions. I believe in what I am doing. I treat the reader with respect, and I always consider the reader more intelligent than myself. I work toward the goal of writing something that is not only entertaining, but also revealing about the human condition.

Do you or do you not know about the blank page syndrome?

No. I just write. I am always writing. I never stop writing. There are so many stories to tell. I could write three or four books each year, but they would just add to the huge amount of books that I have written that are not published.

What is different about this new book?

I think, very simply, that it deals with a very thorough exploration into the nature of wo we are and what we’re actually capable of as human beings. I think it is more intensely involved in the mental, emotional and spiritual nature of Man than anything I have written before.

Without thinking, if I tell you

 - a book to escape


 ‘The Day of the Jackal’ by Frederick Forsyth


- a book you could read for the umpteenth time


‘The Shipping News’ by Annie Proulx


- THE book that inspires you


‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote


- And the book you would take to a desert island


As above, ‘In Cold Blood’.


What are your literary influences?

Tough question, because I feel I am very much influenced by storytelling through film as much as books. Obviously, I love a great many writers, but I am constantly seeking out writers who make me feel like a bad writer. I love writers who play with language, those who don’t follow the ‘rules’. I love the way certain writers can capture atmospheres and environments with just a few words. There are too many to name, but amongst them you would find Truman Capote, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Tim O’Brien, Annie Proulx, Cormac McCarthy, William Carlos Williams, and the list goes on. I think all writers are influenced by so many different sources of inspiration. I think life is my inspiration, and that comes from so many very different sources.

If you were to write an author’s biography, who would it be?

Perhaps Truman Capote. Simply because he wrote a book that made him one of the most respected and successful writers of the 20th Century, but – in a way – it was also his Frankenstein and led to his creative impotence and finally his death.

What will your next book be about ?

It is a mystery set in Montreal and the very north-east of Canada. It’s about a family that moves to one of the most desolate and inhospitable places in the world, and how the environment and the events they have to face cause that family to fall apart.

What can we wish you today for tomorrow?

That the films and TV series I have written are produced and released. That I can get back on the road, come to France to meet with readers and bloggers and journalists again. That there are more books, more music, more adventures, more time with friends, more of everything that makes it so very enjoyable to be involved in so many creative areas and activities!

Thank you very much for this interview, I wish you a beautiful literary continuation.

And thank you for your time, your interest, your encouragement and your support. It means a great deal to me, and is very much appreciated.