10 Questions | carlaeanderton.com

10 Questions

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10 Questions about “The Heart Absent”

1. What is the working title of your next book?
While I’ve more or less decided my next book will be “The Hooterville Book” and will be (mostly) non-fiction, I’m more interested at this point in talking about the book I actually have put now, “The Heart Absent.”
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’ve always been a British history buff and during a visit to London when I was 18, I went on one of those “Ripper Tours” where they take you to the sites of the Ripper murders. The tour guide decided to use me as the model to show the rest of the tour where the Ripper, well, “ripped” up his victims. At the time, I found the experience understandably creepy, but years later I believe it spawned my early interest in the infamous crimes.
The idea to write a book about “Jack the Ripper in love,” however, came from repeatedly viewing the crime scene photos of the corpse of Mary Jane Kelly. So many aspects of her murder differed widely from the other “Ripper murders” – or at least the five canonical murders most expert Ripperologists agree were the handiwork of the faceless, nameless terror nicknamed “Jack the Ripper.” She was murdered indoors, in her own living quarters, and it’s generally accepted that she quite willingly brought her killer to the scene of her horrible demise. She was younger and more attractive than her predecessors. Her death was more gruesome than the others. The Ripper took the time to do to her what he wasn’t able to do to the rest, or so it appears. He literally dissected her like she was some kind of hideous experiment. All of the aforementioned details combine to paint a picture of her murderer as someone who had a personal connection with her. The obvious connection, in my view at least, is that he was in love with her and, perhaps, she spurned him.
The idea to make James Nemo, the “Ripper” character in my novel, an artist who liked to paint prostitutes came from Patricia Cornwell’s novel “Portrait of a Killer,” in which she accused the British painter Walter Richard Sickert of being Jack the Ripper. Her theory doesn’t hold water and falls apart under any real scrutiny, but the notion of Jack being an artist I found appealing and romantic. As one of my former mentors often said, “Good writers borrow, great writers steal.”
3. What genre does your book fall under?
“The Heart Absent” is a historical horror novel with elements of romance and (I hope) elements of literary fiction. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Scoff all you like but when I picture James Nemo, I picture Leonardo DiCaprio. For Mary Jane Kelly, Mena Suvari is my gal. She’s beautiful but not in a conventional way and I’ve had a girl crush on her since “American Beauty.” For Charlotte, the classic hooker with a heart of gold, I’d cast Christina Hendricks. She’s got an awesome combination of beauty, brains and boobs, which is exactly how I picture Charlotte. For Joseph Barnett, our hero, the choice is less clear. When I started writing this novel, Joe had a full head of hair but by the time I typed “The End” the man had no hair at all! Since he’s the hero of the novel, I’d cast one of my own personal two choices for sexiest man alive: Jon Hamm or Charlie Hunnam. (Whichever one is willing to shave his head, grow a scraggly beard and participate in a very elaborate casting call. Meow!)
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
“The Heart Absent” is “My Fair Lady” gone horribly wrong.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
“The Heart Absent” was published by New Libri Press in April, 2013. It is now live on Amazon Kindle!
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The idea for “The Heart Absent’ first occurred to me in 2003 but the bulk of it I wrote while enrolled as a graduate student at Seton Hill University. It was my thesis novel for my Master in Fine Arts degree.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The following titles aren’t necessarily in my genre, but they definitely inspired me: Brett Easton Ellis’s “American Psycho” and Margaret George’s “The Autobiography of Henry VIII.” “The Heart Absent” fall somewhere roughly in the middle.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I plead the Fifth Amendment. People who really know me will recognize part of the story as closely mirroring aspects of my own life. That’s all I’m going to reveal for now. The rest I’m saving for Oprah.
10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
“The Heart Absent” is a story about Jack the Ripper’s evolution from boy to man to monster, but there are many other topics tackled in the novel. I would like to think it’s also a parable of sorts about the consequences of controlling relationships. Some may consider parts of the novel to be irreverent in terms of religion. I did that on purpose. Finally, in spite of the rather dark subject matter, the novel is sprinkled with humorous one-liners and the strong ties of friendship between some of the major characters are certain to warm the cockles of your heart.

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