Thursday, May 16, 2013

Guest Post by Author David Morrell

It is my pleasure to welcome author David Morrell to Confessions of an Avid Reader today as part of his virtual tour for his latest novel, Murder As A Fine Art (click on the title to read my review). 


I can’t help noticing the similarity between this website’s name and CONFESSIONS OF AN ENGLISH OPIUM-EATER by Thomas De Quincey, the main character of my new novel, MURDER AS A FINE ART.  In addition to being the first person to write about drug addiction (in 1821), De Quincey was notorious for his blood-soaked essay ON MURDER CONSIDERED AS ONE OF THE FINE ARTS, in which he invented the true-crime genre.

That sensational essay is about a series of 1811 mass murders that rivaled those of Jack the Ripper for terrorizing London and all of England. There may have been mass murders before then, but primitive communications didn’t allow people to known about them.  In 1811, however, improved roads and the newly created mail-coach system allowed London’s 52 newspapers to travel all across England at an inexorable ten miles an hour. Within two days, all of England was paralyzed by the news. People were still talking about the killings 43 years later, in 1854, when MURDER AS A FINE ART occurs.

De Quincey is an ideal person to use as a main character in a thriller. In a way, he’s the father of modern private detectives. He invented the word “subconscious” and anticipated the theories of Freud by half a century. He inspired Edgar Allan Poe, who in turn inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to create Sherlock Holmes.

I spent two years researching 1854 London, in the hope that readers would truly believe they were there. In addition, I read and reread De Quincey’s thousands of pages until I felt I was channeling him.

I finally knew that I’d grasped the details of Victorian England when I could tell how much a well-to-do woman’s clothes weighed: thirty-seven pounds because of ten yards of satin over a whale-teeth hoop that looked like a bird cage. It’s no wonder that women kept fainting.

It didn’t help that laudanum, a mixture of opium and brandy, was in every home, as common as aspirin is for us. People wouldn’t admit that they were addicts (the concept didn’t exist back then), which is why De Quincey’s CONFESSIONS OF AN ENGLISH OPIUM-EATER was so scandalous.  Opium and laudanum have a major role in the plot of MURDER AS A FINE ART.  As does murder, for De Quincey was an expert in it.

Murder As A Fine Art is on tour!  Click here to view the tour schedule. 

About David Morrell

David Morrell is a Canadian novelist from Kitchener, Ontario, who has been living in the United States for a number of years. He is best known for his debut 1972 novel First Blood, which would later become a successful film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone. More recently, he has been writing the Captain America comic books limited-series The Chosen.

For more information on David Morrell and his novels, please visit the official website