Just in time for Easter weekend we have the publication of Mo Hayder’s latest Jack Caffery novel Poppet. Now, the sign may say “PRIVATE KEEP OUT” but Mo has kindly let us in and generously replied to our probing questions.
1. Your arrival on the crime fiction scene came with a shocker of a book, Birdman, and you’ve established a name for yourself since with your ability to shock. Do you set out to do this or is it incidental, a by-product of a theme you choose to explore?
If something in life shocks me I can’t process it without putting it into my writing. It’s a sort of therapy, I guess.
2. Where your novels appear to turn on a theme or specific topic, what is it for Poppet and what’s its genesis?
Probably the theme is about how reality and hallucination can become indistinguishable for the mentally ill patient. Also I play around with ideas of faith and destiny.
3. Poppet brings your hero, Jack Caffery, nearer than he’s ever been to being “healed” – do you intend to keep going down this track or will you be torturing him some more in later books?
Of course I intend torturing him! It is human nature to strive for peace, sadly the moment a fictional character finds it they lose their potential for drama.
4. Do you have anything you regret putting into a novel and/or regret omitting from a novel in your oeuvre?
I took a lot of stick for being quite so descriptive about the violence in my earlier books, and I admit at the time there were moments I found it hard to take. But ultimately no, I don’t regret that use of violence. Writing like that came as my natural rebellion to the fiction I’d been reared on, so it was a natural part of the creative process.
5. Are you more scared or fascinated by some of the things you research for your novels?
For me fascination is always the corollary of fear, so I can’t really distinguish the two.
And just when you thought it was over, here’s the random “+1” question: is there a hidden character in Mo Hayder the author, something we don’t yet know about? A Cath Kidston pinny-wearing, cupcake-baking domestic goddess? A bit of a biker gal? An urban explorer?
I’ve exorcised the biker gal side of me in Hanging Hill, and there is definitely an urban explorer lurking. The domestic goddess however… probably a subject better avoided. Much as I admire people who can cook, the only thing that ever comes out of my kitchen is smoke and people crying.
Thank you Mo Hayder for being the first willing victim in our “Five+1” short interviews series.
The Maude is outside. It wants to come in. It wants to sit on your chest.
The mentally ill patients in Beechway High Secure Unit are highly suggestible. A hallucination can spread like a virus. When unexplained power cuts lead to a series of horrifying incidents, fear spreads from the inmates to the staff. Amidst the growing hysteria, AJ, a senior psychiatric nurse, is desperate to protect his charges.
Detective Inspector Jack Caffery is looking for the corpse of a missing woman. He knows all too well how it feels to fail to find a loved one’s body. When AJ seeks Caffery’s help in investigating the trouble at Beechway, each man must face a bitter truth in his own life. Before staring pure evil in the eye.
[Thanks and acknowledgements to September Withers and Sarah Hilary.]