It’s an absolute pleasure to join the blog tour for The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond today! My thanks to Emma Walton for the invitation to join the tour!
Gary Raymond joins me today to talk about what he thinks makes a good literary thriller. But first, here is all you need to know about The Golden Orphans.
Author : Gary Raymond
Title : The Golden Orphans
Pages : 155
Publisher : Parthian Books
Publication date : June 30, 2018 (ebook)
Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…
Francis Benthem is a successful artist; he’s created a new life on an island in the sun. He works all night, painting the dreams of his mysterious Russian benefactor, Illy Prostakov. He writes letters to old friends and students back in cold, far away London. But now Francis Benthem is found dead. The funeral is planned and his old friend from art school arrives to finish what Benthem had started. The painting of dreams on a faraway island. But you can also paint nightmares and Illy has secrets of his own that are not ready for the light. Of promises made and broken, betrayal and murder…
Gary Raymond’s new novel, THE GOLDEN ORPHANS, a dark, twisting thriller set on the island of Cyprus, has been getting great reviews so far. Here he writes about what he thinks makes a good “literary thriller”?
For a start, let’s not get bogged down too much in the terms of reference. We all know, in a roundabout sort of way, that “literary” means you’re getting something more than just a simple thrill ride, more than a series of set-pieces designed to make your head spin and your heart pound. (Nothing wrong with either of those things, by the way). And “thriller” doesn’t just mean “to thrill”, but that there are certain genre-defined expectations. That’s what those two terms mean to me, anyway. So from a writer’s point of view, I went into THE GOLDEN ORPHANS wanting to hit those two marks. THE GOLDEN ORPHANS is about ideas that preoccupy me as a writer, and, away from writing (if that is possible) things that just preoccupy me as a person (same thing, really). Genre tropes might mean structural conservatism, but it can also mean you have a stable framework within which you can really shake things up. And so THE GOLDEN ORPHANS both follows certain lines familiar to thriller readers, but also then throws in some serious twists and turns.
The premise – that a down-on-his-luck painter goes to Cyprus for the funeral of a friend and gets mixed up with the Russian mafia – is part of a tradition in British writing of “the Englishman abroad”. Graham Greene was a big influence on this book, and he used that idea time and time again as he used his own experiences of being that Englishman abroad to craft fictional stories. (I have done the same thing, really – I lived in Cyprus for six months in 2006, and this was the basis for my book).
There are also other tropes in the book – red herrings, femme fatales, clandestine operations going in etc. (there are many more) – and I really enjoyed employing them. Graham Greene’s masterpiece of this type, THE POWER AND THE GLORY (1940), is a snappy little novel about faith and betrayal and what it means to have a relationship with God, all wrapped up in the garments of a chase story. And it is just that. A corrupt and obsessive police chief chases the last catholic priest in a mid-purge Mexico across the country. But inside that tension, that rawness, is a book about human frailty, and human strength.
In THE GOLDEN ORPHANS, I wanted to do what Greene had done, and find a way to excite the reader, to be cinematically urgent, while at the same time not letting up on the fact literature is the greatest space in which to explore ideas. And so my narrator is caught up in intrigue, and there are a few gunfights, and there are villains, and building moments of peril leading to a (hopefully) big pay off at the end – but he is also discovering things about himself and the world around him, about his relationship to others, about what it’s like to live in a society that operates under a shadow (in this case the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974), and what such a shadow can do to a country.
That’s what a “literary thriller” does – it excites, but it also attempts to contribute to ideas, to thinking, and to debates. I hope THE GOLDEN ORPHANS has managed to hit those two marks.
[I’d say the many good reviews you’ve been receiving so far, Gary, must mean you’re doing something right! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and I wish you the best of luck with The Golden Orphans and whatever project is next for you!]
The Golden Orphans is available to buy!
Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor and broadcaster. He is the presenter of BBC Radio Wales’, The Review Show, and is one of the founding editors of Wales Arts Review. He is the author of two novels, The Golden Orphans (Parthian, 2018) and For Those Who Come After (Parthian, 2015). He is a widely published critic and cultural commentator.