Book Talk: Werewolf doesn't distract author from core themes

Thu Sep 1, 2011 5:04am EDT
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By Bernard Vaughan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - British author Glen Duncan has published seven critically acclaimed novels, often exploring touchy topics such as violence and perversity as well as love and morality.

He has employed the fantastic -- in his earlier book "I, Lucifer" the devil is transformed into a human for a month -- to explore these themes, but perhaps never more so than with his latest work.

"The Last Werewolf" stars Jake Marlowe, a 200-year-old, suicidal werewolf who is exhausted by life and also believes he is the last of his species.

Duncan spoke with Reuters about his new book and the pressure to write a commercially successful novel.

Q: How did you develop this idea?

A: "I had written seven novels before this, all of which were well received, but read by not enough people and they didn't win a prize. So I had a conversation with my agent when it came around to writing novel number eight, and I said, 'If I write another overtly literary novel, do you think you'll be able to find a publisher?' And with a refreshing candor he said, 'No, probably not.'

"So in a bit of a bad mood, I decided to write a straight commercial genre novel. The idea was for a plot-driven narrative, no philosophy, no existential angst, no moral inquiry, no meta-fictional conceits. But as is often the way with these things, that's not quite what happened. It was immediately apparent that it was a perfect vehicle for writing about the things I've always been writing about: love and sex and death and morality and cruelty and compassion."

Q: Jake and Talulla are ruthlessly violent, yet sympathetic, characters. Was it difficult striking that balance?   Continued...