"Perilaus", published by Eloquent Books, New York (2009), is a novel about a crime novelist (Sam Carpenter) writing a crime novel ("The Bronze Bull"). The action takes place in and modern-day Edinburgh but there are references to 6th century BC Sicily, the setting of the classical legend of Perilaus.
At the beginning of the story, Sam is unhappy: recently deserted by his beloved Linda, he's lonely and he's struggling with the early chapters of "The Bronze Bull". In particular, he doesn't want to write the chapter in which the obligatory murder occurs - he likes the projected victim. He drinks most of a bottle of whisky while drafting the murder chapter. In the morning he awakens with a hangover and receives a phone call from a minor character in "The Bronze Bull", telling him about the murder...
From that point on, Sam is trapped in his own unfinished crime story - and it doesn't develop quite as he'd planned. Indeed, he isn't sure that the character he intended as the murderer IS the murderer. So he faces two challenges: identifying the perpetrator of his fictional crime and deciding how to deal with him/her; and escaping from his own creation and returning to the "real world".
Apart from the obvious issues (relationship between creator and creation, aspects of moral responsibility, why criminal justice can miscarry), two particular interests motivated me to write "Perilaus". One is the often tenuous connection between fact and reporting, between real history and story-telling. The other is the psychological response of murderers to their guilt. Some years ago I talked in depth to a number of convicted murderers and was deeply affected by the way in which they simultaneously confronted and evaded what they'd done.
Above all, though, I wanted to tell a two-level "story within a story" that people would enjoy reading. So far, readers have responded positively. I can but hope that the trend will continue.
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Thanks for the invite etc , Author is probably not the right word , struggling story teller with dyslexia and an attention deficit maybe a closer description. I don't know about being a critic , stones and glass houses and all that.
Cheers JR (It doesn't mean Jack Russell)