Christopher Bollen's novel Orient hit the scene in 2015 to great critical acclaim, so we are very excited for his next book, The Destroyers—an explosive tale of wealth, deceit, and murder, perfect for fans of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley and Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall. In additon to the great praise, Orient received a lot of support from libraries, so Christopher has stopped by LLF to share his experience and give a little taste of his next novel.
One of the exciting parts about setting a novel in a real-life place—and also one of the most daunting parts—is learning the reactions from readers who live there. My last novel Orient [Harper, 2015] was set in the very real-life place of Orient Point on the far North Fork of Long Island, and I have to be honest, I was nervous about the responses from locals. After all, I had used the beautiful, sea-swept town of Orient as the backdrop for murders, affairs, deceptions, and even the dumping site for mutant animal corpses. The strange thing is I truly loved my time spent in Orient researching the novel (I can imagine a few readers guffawing, “if this is how he treats a place he loves…”).
Not long after Orient was published, I received invitations from libraries to come and speak at their book clubs or mystery groups or simply for their general members—and the vast majority of those invitations came from libraries on Long Island. Some were in the hamlets just outside of New York City in Nassau County, and others were located hours out on the East End in Suffolk County. Each time I said yes without hesitation, simply because, growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, my local library was an invaluable escape hatch for me, a rocket ship to everywhere built on the Dewey Decimal System. My hesitation was reserved for my drive out to the library, where I envisioned baskets of tomatoes—or rocks—near the entrance for patrons to throw at me in retaliation. I was sure there would be neighborhood cabals waiting for my car to appear in the library parking lot, ready for vengeance—this will teach you to set a murder mystery in greater Long Island! Each time, the very opposite happened. My library visits reminded me of what readers of literature are by nature: open-minded, empathetic, willing to entertain disparate, even conflicting, opinions, able to discern the difference between fact and fiction and yet sharp as to how each informs the other. I hope that I was an interesting speaker for my hour standing at the podium and talking to the crowd. I certainly learned more from hearing the audiences’ comments and questions and takes—particularly on the ending of Orient—than the attendants must have learned listening to me. Mostly, these conversations renewed my faith in the excitement and devotion of readers to new fiction being published. People showed up with lists of questions and observations, copies dog-eared (and need I mention these events were often held on gorgeous, warm days where a beach was in driving distance?). When you sit alone at a desk writing a book, it’s hard to imagine who will be reading your book at the end of the line. Those library visits proved to me that the communities of eager readers still exists (and special recognition goes to the Bryant Library in Roslyn, New York, who created a buffet of Orient-themed lunch items down to killer-bee cupcakes).
My next novel, The Destroyers, is set on the Greek Island of Patmos. Alas, there is no library on Patmos that I’m aware of, and I can only imagine at this point what the locals will think of my literary thriller. I will miss the Long Island libraries where we could chat about more regional events. But I do hope to win over some of the Orient readers—there are still murders and deceptions, just a little farther out at sea this time.
Thanks, Christopher! The egalley of The Destroyers is available now for download, so head on over to Edelweiss now to check out this vivid and suspenseful story of identity, power and fate, fathers and sons, self-invention and self-deception. Enjoy!