Irish author Banville loves being Black

Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:46pm EDT
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By Mark Egan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Award-winning Irish author John Banville has always been highly critical of his own writing, but with the publication of his latest crime novel, he says he loves himself. Well, sort of.

Banville is promoting "Elegy for April," the fourth book published in as many years under his pen name Benjamin Black. In it, Dublin pathologist Garret Quirke's daughter, Phoebe, takes a central role.

"I had been very interested in the character of Phoebe, Quirke's daughter," Banville told Reuters in an interview. "My agent insists I am in love with her, and maybe I am. In a very curious way, she reminds me something of myself."

Writing as Black is fun for Banville.

As Banville he writes just a few hundred words a day; "I have to write just a few sentences and let them wallow around and sink in."

As Black, he completes a book in just a few months; "I do the Black novels quite quickly. This always infuriates other crime fiction writers. I don't know why."

Banville has two books just published in an unusual situation where he is competing with himself in bookstores.

Black's latest sees Quirke return from a stretch drying out to track down a missing person. In "The Infinities," written under the John Banville moniker, a family gathers by the bedside of a dying mathematician as Greek gods hover above.   Continued...

<p>Booker prize winning author John Banville poses in New York November 8, 2005. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>