A little while back I interviewed Tristan de Chalain, author of Wolf’s Paw. During that interview Tristan posed some questions to me and I said I would answer them. I must here give my sincere apologies to Tristan for not answering these questions sooner.
I have included the original question I asked, Tristan’s answer and then my answer to his questions. I hope you all enjoy.
Are any of the characters and/or storylines based on real people and/or events?
I have certainly used characteristics of people I know to flesh out my main characters and family stories, suitably dressed up inform various characters and their experiences, but no, there are no exact copies of any real people. I suppose, because I’m a Plastic Surgeon and I’ve made Neill proctor one as well, there might be a supposition that I’m producing a poorly disguised Walter Mitty- esque facsimile of myself, but that isn’t the case. I’ve kept to the Plastic Surgery theme because it’s something I know well and I believe that there is a lot to tell of in the field and because it suited my plotline. Did you find the cases described believable? Interesting? OTT? Most of them were exact copies of real cases I’ve operated on.
Mandythebookworm: Absolutely I found the cases to be both believable and interesting. I have no doubt there are some weird and wonderful things that go on in this field and stories people could tell which no one would believe and would think they were over the top. That’s what makes it interesting!
The relationship between Neill Proctor and his wife Sharon is very strained and stressful at times. Why did you decide to make this such an important aspect of the story?
As I said, my original motivation for writing was to help me process stuff. Moving to the US as a fellow myself, we met a number of other young doctors and surgeons in similar situations and the stress really was quite enormous. This appeared to be a fairly common experience. We would gather socially and swap war-stories and it is these shared experiences that, suitably blended, form the basis of Neill and Sharon’s experience and the superficial explanation for their fraught relationship – this was an essential component of the “Glass Wall” of the original title. As an immigrant, one would feel cut off, isolated, present, but not really part of the society around one. (That this was a stressful time for people in this situation can be attested to by the fact that in our group of about 8 or 10 couples, two ended in divorce and one couple abandoned their fellowship and left early) In Neill’s case, the toxicity in their marriage was amplified by his previous torture and abuse, which he dealt with by denial and putting up a brave front while developing an increasing burden of rage within. Effectively, he remained emotionally distant, holding Sharon at arm’s length.
I wanted verisimilitude, and I think it makes them a more believable and even sympathetic couple of characters. Do you think it worked?
Mandythebookworm: Tristan, I can say their relationship was completely believable. I bet this sort of thing happens to many couples right across the world. I imagine it would be a very difficult and stressful time for both parties and if they have children each child as well. Having said that I must say my comment above is more for the moving aspect and trying to feel comfortable in a new environment. As for Neill’s past and how it affects the relationship, well I just can’t even imagine what that would be like for Neill or Sharon. You did a great job of showing both sides.
Was it hard to write from both Neill’s and Sharon’s point of view?
Yes, definitely, so much so in fact that I’m not sure that I’ve successfully differentiated them. Do you think that they each have a recognizably distinct and different “voice”? Do they seem different or do they come across as a poor blend of one another?
Mandythebookworm: I do think Neill and Sharon have distinct and different ‘voices’. I was very impressed how you were able to get Sharon’s story and feelings across. You must have a great insight into the female’s mind. I really thought Sharon’s story was well thought out and it came alive on the page.
Revenge is the driving force in Aaron Ryan’s life. Do you think his need for revenge is warranted? Does it make him a more likeable character than if he were to carry out his actions without revenge being the reason why?
I felt that Ryan needed a credible reason for his actions. He wasn’t to be some formulaic psycho serial killer. He is a sane, rational man with a precise, logical reason for his every action. He kills people for a living and he’s good at it, but in the end it is just a job. It’s part of the essential amorality of the organization he works for that it is regarded as simply another component of his skillset. Would you have liked him more as a ruthless undirected killer, or is he more sympathetic as a principled man on a self-appointed mission? Certainly I think he earns some kudos for the way he deals with the odious Dr.Knight, while yet remaining unmistakably the baddie.
Mandythebookworm: I must admit there were times throughout the book I was very sympathetic towards him and then I would think to myself, wait, no, you can’t be like that, he’s killing people! I think it would be easier for him to exact his revenge given his line of ‘work’ and perhaps that is why he wanted to kill them rather than use another method of revenge. I don’t know, I was a little bit torn but then in the end I saw him as a killer with a mixed up mind. His past definitely had a lot to do with his present way of thinking and I guess it is these kinds of people who need mental help rather than being locked up in a gaol.
To read the full interview with Tristan click here