Marcus Sedgwick’s first adult novel, A Love Like Blood, just came out, and I’m thrilled that he answered a few of my questions about the new book, and more!
Will you tell us a bit about A Love Like Blood and what inspired you to write it?
A Love Like Blood is a story of obsession. It’s about how a life can change in a few moments, how the path you follow can sometimes be dictated by a single incident. It’s also a story about revenge, and it’s, perhaps above all, a story about blood – I wanted to write an old school tale and use it as the basis for investigating our ‘psychological relationship’ to this most vital of bodily fluids. It follows the journey of a British man who witnesses a horrific act in the days just after the liberation of Paris in 1944, and what happens to him over the next twenty odd years as a result.
What made you decide to set the novel in the 1940s, and what kind of research did you do for the book?
I was looking for a period that allowed certain things in the novel to happen in the way that they do – one of those being that I needed a period of chaos (such as you find in the aftermath of a war) and I chose Paris for a few reasons, not least being that it’s a city I love and wanted to write about. The novel moves on to other European cities, each giving me some other way to think about blood. There was lots of research; into blood and its disorders, into various psychopathies, into the war, into the cities I was writing about, but I don’t mind any of that, I love research – not only does it make your book better, it’s much easier than the writing itself.
You’re well known for your award-winning work for teen readers. What made you decide to write something for an older audience?
I really didn’t! It just happened that I had this idea about blood, and given an idea, I think that as an author you owe it to that idea to take it to its logical conclusion and its ultimate realization. This meant the book became a novel for adults, not really because I wrote it any differently from my other work, but because the themes were too dark for even the bravest of YA publishers to touch it. It’s also a book that asks the question ‘what was my life? where did it go wrong?’ and that is perhaps a question that is more pertinent to an adult than a younger reader, who are possibly more concerned with the question ‘who will I become?’
You have so many wonderful titles under your belt, but have you always wanted to write? Will you tell us a little more about yourself and your background?
It took far too long to realize I wanted to write and I’m very glad I did. I worked as a bookseller for some time, and that was what made the light finally dawn. I grew up in a very small English village with a loving family and a brother who shared my delight in the imagination. He’s a writer now too, but again, it took him quite a while to get there.
What authors or novels have influenced and inspired you the most, in your writing, and in life?
Too many to list them all! I love so many different kinds of writing, for different reasons. I found Hemingway very inspiring as a young man, but also works by European writers; Camus and so on. In later life I fell in love with Hermann Melville and Thomas Mann.
If you could experience one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
That’s a great, and particularly tough question, but given what I’ve said above, it might have to be The Magic Mountain, although that being said, it’s a great book to read and re-read…
What are you currently reading?
There are about fifteen books sitting on the table by my side of the bed – so I’ll just give you the top one: The Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on my second novel (officially) for adults, as well as a hybrid novel/graphic novel with my brother Julian, which is (sort of) a retelling of the Orpheus myth, but set in London during the Second World War.
About A Love Like Blood:
The first novel for adults by hugely acclaimed YA writer Marcus Sedgwick: a gripping saga of love, revenge, and obsession—and vampires.
In 1944, just days after the liberation of Paris, Charles Jackson sees something horrific: a man in a dark tunnel, apparently drinking the blood of a murdered woman. Terrified, he does nothing, telling himself afterward that worse tragedies happen during war.
Seven years later he returns to the city—and sees the same man dining in the company of a fascinating, beautiful young woman. When they leave the restaurant, Charles decides to follow . . .
A Love Like Blood is a dark, compelling thriller about how a man’s life can change in a moment and about where the desire for truth—and revenge—can lead.