Saturday, July 13, 2013


We are delighted to welcome the wonderful writer D.J. McIntosh to Type M for Murder as our weekend guest. She tells us about the inspiration for her second book featuring New York art dealer, John Madison.

D.J. (Dorothy) McIntosh left her professional job to carve out a career as an author. It took almost ten years to research and write her novel, The Witch of Babylon but it’s now been released in North America and has sold in twenty countries around the world. The novel was chosen by as one of the best books of the year and by CNN International as one of six enduring historical thrillers along with notable writers like Agatha Christie, Umberto Eco and Dan Brown. In her new novel, The Book of Stolen Tales, the dark origins of famous fairy tales come to life. It is now out in stores or online from Penguin Canada.

Where does your inspiration come from? An oft asked question at readings and one I’m never sure of the answer to. From the subject matter? Yes. From an event in your life that you’ve not been able to let go of? Yes to that too. From a dazzling character. Also yes. As near as I can tell, I am inspired by age-old stories. Stories that resonate over the ages, that possess such core emotional truths they are able to renew themselves over time and centuries of telling. Tales and legends that can adapt to new cultures and circumstances. Like the wild wolf that draws near a campfire and over eons transforms to the dog while retaining a glimmer her wolf-like instincts. A kind of literary evolution I guess.

I would call that a large “inspiration.” Smaller ones lurk too within book pages. With my second novel, The Book of Stolen Tales, a poet inspired me at first and then, the city that he loved so much. The poet, Giambattista Basile, was a much admired courtier who re-interpreted age old stories to assemble the first complete European anthology of fairy tales, almost two hundred years before the much better known Grimm brothers. When I travelled to his home territory, Naples, the city he loved so much, I too, fell under its spell. It’s magical two-humped mountain, Vesuvius, placid and beautiful at any time of day but capable, still, of great destructive power. The built form of the city – cobblestones, flags, ancient walls, magnificent Spanish style buildings, churches tucked away in corners, grand cathedrals, all built from the molten stone that volcanoes once brought from deep from the earth. Glorious food, history at your doorstep, people fighting with vespas and fiats to climb narrow alleyways. Not as grand as Rome or Venice perhaps, but just as rich in experience.

So inspiration can be found in many places and if you keep your eyes open, it will seek you out.

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