We interview Michael Koryta about his novel A Welcome Grave...
1) How long did it take you to write the novel?
I was at this one for about 15 months, I believe. First draft tookprobably half of that, but I rewrite extensively, often removing majorcharacters or adding them, changing plot substantially, things likethat. It ran a few months beyond what I'd hoped, but that's often beenthe case once I get to rewriting.
2) Where did you come up with the plot, what inspired you?
I worked a case a few years ago tracking down missing heirs to anestate, and there was one person on my list who reacted with what I found to be a strange attitude when I finally made contact. Very defensive, very wary, didn't seem to believe the reason for my call. There was the sense, at least to me, that some of this came from a placeI didn't understand at all. He believed a private investigator waslooking for him, but he didn't believe the reason. All of this was mostlikely an ordinary reaction from a cautious individual, but it crawled into my writer's brain and began to make noise. That blended with a notion I'd had after writing Sorrow's Anthem, an idea that perhaps you could show more of your character's nature by taking him through the loss of an enemy than the loss of a loved one. When those two thoughts collided, the early portion of the plot came to life.
3) Joe Pritchard is getting older, thinking about settling down. Will hestill be back as Perry's partner?
He hasn't told me yet. Lincoln and I are immensely curious. I just finished a new Lincoln and still can't answer that question.
4) Did you do much research for the novel?
Some, but I tend to research later in the process. I like to get firstdraft down first, then go back and research.
5) I was surprised that Lincoln hooked up with Amy in this novel soquickly. Why did you decide that to happen?
You and I were both surprised. I think Lincoln was delighted. I had nogrand plan for their relationship, other than that at some point itwould advance beyond friendship, which was of course quite obvious tothe reader. When and how it would happen, I hadn't really considered. I try to write as organically as possible and that book and that time feltright.
6) This novel seemed a bit more violent or action-driven than the first two novels. Was that a conscious decision?
I think that's an accurate observation, but it wasn't a conscious decision so much as a function of the story. I wanted Lincoln to havehis back to the wall as much and as early as possible in this one, throwsome challenges at him, then toss more on top of the heap before he hada chance to breathe. That dictated a more violent, action-driven story,I believe. The new Lincoln, which is just complete in first draft, is astep away from that. Again, not a pre-book plan, but a function of the story.
7) Which scenes did you enjoy writing the most?
My favorite scene in A Welcome Grave, by far, is Lincoln's second visit to the apple orchard, when he meets Matt Jefferson for the first time. I wanted that one to just brood with tension and confusion and menace, andit was great fun to write. I spent a lot of weeks -- months, really --looking forward to Andy Doran's final ride with Lincoln, as well. Traditionally, some of my favorite writing comes toward the final chapter. Not because the story is done, but because I enjoy the tone of an ending very much. There's always some sadness and some hope in my favorite sort of ending, and it is a pleasure to try to blend those elements.
8) Who is your favorite among the characters in the novel?
Andy Doran. I felt true sorrow at writing his character down the stretch. I think that suggests good things.
9) What are the best things people have said about the novel and which the worst?
Ha, well, some like it and some hate it. What more can I say than that? I'm grateful to those who like it, sorry to those who do not. I try not to let reviews and responses creep into my head too much, regardless of praise or condemnation. My focus is always on moving forward, on the next book. I have a lot of stories I'd like to tell.
10) Is there anything else you'd like to say about the novel? Just that I'm so appreciative of everyone who has read it, and I hope itdidn't disappoint.