Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Anita Lock is talking with William LeRoy, author of The Same Old Story
FQ: What inspired you to write a murder mystery based on the internet and in particular to a precursor to emailing: instant messaging?
LEROY: At about the same time Nora and Delia Efron were writing the script for You've Got Mail based on the "new" phenomenon of virtual romance, I too got to thinking about the fundamental nature of romantic love, and settled on a notion that for a man it is essentially a psychic experience: An innate yearning to regain a sense of lost wholeness through reunification of body and soul, ultimately achievable only in death. Virtually all the classic love stories struck me as metaphorical expressions of this inner drama, including the death part, i.e. "each man kills the thing he loves," which led me to putting down my thoughts in the form of a "murder mystery."
FQ: You designed your story by alternating between two characters, Peter and Matt. Explain why you limited your narratives to them and didn't include others, like Frankie and minor characters.
LEROY: It's their story, based largely on their mirrored misperceptions of common facts, and "the same old story." One could say "Peter" and "Matt" are two aspects of the same person.
FQ: Alternating between Peter's and Matt's stories, you chose to number chapters according to where their stories leave off. Very clever! Explain how you came up with this method.
LEROY: It struck me as consistent with it being two separate stories that are nevertheless "the same old story." And for the stories that track, I used this method and separate "sub-title" pages to help the reader keep in mind whose story he was reading at any given time.
FQ: Your debut is laced with nostalgic romance stories, operas, and movies. Explain why you incorporate these older elements in a story set just at the cusp of the 21st Century.
LEROY: As expressly stated in both Peter's and Matt's stories, Johnny is revealed to have been a kind of Jungian mystic who believed, and convinced Frankie that she "like everyone else, was composed of multiple 'inner selfs', corresponding in nature and identity to the classic characters brought to consciousness (from a collective unconscious) in fairy tales, poems, songs, myths, books and movies. Supposedly, such 'classic characters' resided in hers and and everyone's unconscious, from where they compelled her and everyone one else, knowingly or not, to act out their stories. 'We are who we pretend to be, Johnny said, except we're not pretending'." The nostalgic stories that appear in the text ---- from Adam and Eve to Psyche and Eros to Tristan and Isolde to Romeo and Juliet etcetera ---- attempt to prove or at least illustrate this theory, and explain how Frankie rationalized her actions.
FQ: You use a couple of rather interesting writing tools: word play and interrupted sentences. Explain the importance of incorporating these aspects within a mystery such as this.
LEROY: Some of the word play is just that: word play. But some is intended to provide clues. As for interrupted sentences, the tale is told in the "close third person," and this technique represents my sense of how people think and talk, which hopefully engages the reader.
FQ: What do you hope readers will take away at the close of your story?
LEROY: One reader, a somewhat older middle-aged man, said the tale had caused him to re-examine certain things in his life, in particular his relationships with wives and other women. I would hope for a simple, "Aha!"
FQ: Speaking of closure, The Same Old Story ends on an interesting note - one that begs a sequel. Do you have a sequel in the works?
LEROY: It is difficult to "explain" this book without "spoiling" the ending for future readers. But your comment, not unlike others I have received, suggests that for some reason you do not accept (or skipped over) Matt's conclusions when he discovers who Johnny was (beginning on page 412). Though not specifically for this reason, I have written a sequel, titled The Inside Story, that mainly deals with the somewhat mysterious actions of the wily old Police Chief, Patrick Riley.
FQ: Do you foresee more sequels?
LEROY: Another would be the death of me.
FQ: Would you consider mystery to be your writing forte, or are there other genres that you're interested in?
LEROY: I don't think of myself as having a forte, but yes, I would like to write topical satirical novels.
FQ: Do you have any future mystery writing projects (such as a new series) in the works?