Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Kevin Wignall's Lipun varjo / The Dark Flag

I've been thrilled by Kevin Wignall's literary, but hard-hitting crime novels for some time now, and I've been more thrilled since we've had the opportunity to publish his work in Finnish with Arktinen Banaani. Who Is Conrad Hirst? was a critical success in Finland as Kuka on Conrad Hirst? Now we've published Wignall's second Finnish translation under the title of Lipun varjo ("The Shadow of a Flag"). The book's original title is The Dark Flag and this is, I believe, the first instance when the book is published in any language. It will be eventually published in English and it's coming out in German some time next year, but this is the book's first publication.

It's an excellent novel, just like its predecessor, but it's even more quiet than the previous works by Wignall. It has only a minimal amount of violence, but it still hits readers very hard. The emotional impact of the book is great. I said to Kevin when he was in Finland two weeks back that you feel like burst out crying on every page. He said: "Good, that's what I wanted to achieve."

The book is a 9/11 thriller, but not an ordinary one by any means. It's a book about human feelings, loneliness, sadness, the meaning of hidden truths. It's very political, but at the same time it's very apolotical and Wignall doesn't take any stances.

Here's a short interview with Kevin Wignall about Lipun varjo/The Dark Flag. Kevin also talks a bit about his future projects that include a Hollywood star.

What led you to write about 9/11? 

I had already started to plan a novel which had a conspiracy at its centre, but I was talking to a friend who was explaining to me why he believed 9/11 had been the result of a government conspiracy. When I doubted him, he asked me to come up with an explanation for various inconsistencies. I looked into it and came up with what I thought was a plausible explanation and that's what found its way into the book. I wondered whether I should write about it at all, but I think it's the duty of writers to tackle subjects that are current, even if it upsets some people. I hope I've handled it quite sensitively anyway.

How does your book differ from the usual 9/11 thriller?

Firstly, 9/11 only comes into my book near the end, and it's really back-story. My book is mainly set in Copenhagen and it's about a lot of other things - the nature of the lies we tell and our governments tell,
coming to terms with what you've achieved in life and what you've failed to achieve, the slippery nature of "the truth".

Yes, your book is about searching the truth and the futility of that search. Why does this kind of theme appeal to you, as it seems it's essential to your work?

It is a theme that crops up in my work, along with that of morality. Truth and morality are two things that are often talked about in absolute terms and yet they are both more flexible than we like to believe. That creates
fault lines which are interesting to explore.

What's your view about what has been going after the 9/11 in Iraq and other countries and especially the US?

The initial intervention in Afghanistan was probably acceptable, and might have worked if it had been kept short and sharp followed by a swift exit. The Iraq War was a disaster. The ongoing war in Afghanistan is a disaster. In the UK we're told that these wars were essential for maintaining security at home, yet until we launced these wars we had never experienced Islamic terrorism in the UK, whereas now there have seen a handful of successful attacks and a constant threat. We would be better served by disengaging from the Islamic world - it's worth noting that one of the main driving forces behind the creation of Al Qaeda was the continuing presence of US troops on holy Saudi Arabian soil after the first Iraq War, so how do you
solve that problem by having Western troops occupy several other Islamic countries?

You write very short books compared to contemporary blockbuster thrillers. Would you tell us about your reaction to reading Stieg Larsson?

I have to say, I did read the whole of the first Stieg Larsson book, which is saying something for me because I'm impatient with long books. It was pleasant reading and oddly old-fashioned, but nothing much happened. My only explanation for its success is that the two central characters are well drawn and I think people simply enjoy the company of the characters, so they don't mind that it's over 500 pages or that there's very little plot. I think it's sad that Larsson never lived to see the tremendous success he had with the books.

Can you tell us about the movie deal of For the Dogs?

I still can't and that's very frustrating. It's a big star and the project should be very exciting, and I'm hopeful there will be an announcement in the next few weeks, but that's all I'm allowed to say.

You, of all people, have a vampire book coming out. Can you tell us something about that?

My vampire book is the first of a trilogy being published for teenagers. The first book was written over four years ago (when several publishers liked it but thought the vampire fashion was coming to an end!) and it will
be published in the UK and US next September, with translation dates to follow. In many ways, the mood is very similar to that of my adult books but it has a rich mythology and covers a thousand years of history as well as being set in the present. I'm very excited about it. Oh, and like my adult books... it's short!

PS. Here's a link to Kevin Wignall's short story "A Death" in Finnish. "Kuolema" is a moving tragic tale about the morals of dying. And here's some additional information on Wignall in Finnish.

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