Trying To Hide A Dead Body
Posted by Literary Titan
A Labyrinth for Loons follows a man who’s stuck in Malaysia during a COVID lockdown and begins to question his own identity. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
This story was unique in that I really had no idea where it was headed. At first, I was simply going to chronicle daily life, as I was genuinely stuck in KL (from February to September of 2020) and couldn’t return to Japan—as I had to babysit the cat. The daily diary turned stale, though, and since I do write fiction, I began running ideas through my head on how to turn this predicament into something more adventurous than it actually was.
The set-up for the story, the characters, the location—it’s all true, as that’s where I was living. The cadaver that comes along, of course, is fiction. I’m not sure if this qualifies as an “idea” but I’d simply always wanted to write about a protagonist trying to hide a dead body—one that would not cooperate. I mean, what writers, don’t, right?
The chaos with the travel visa was inspired by a novel I read in May of 2020 called Transit by Anna Seghers. The issue of identity that plagues the lead, Leonard Smith, may have developed some from another novel I read that summer, The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. And all the nihilism that permeates the story—well, that’s just me. But I’d be grossly misleading if I also don’t mention the impact of House of Leaves by Mark Daneilewski. (Hence, the minotaur.)
Leonard Smith goes on a transformative journey. Is this intentional or incidental to the story you wanted to tell?
I’d say that Smith’s journey is the story and everything else is incidental. As he struggles with the act of assuming the identity of someone who has died, he slips into a kind of psychosis, exacerbated by his isolation. He begins to see the cadaver that he’s agreed to store in his living room cupboard as not dead at all. What’s really happening is that he’s questioning his own reason for living, and this question must be answered by his metaphorical minotaur. His understanding of the influences of religion impacts his journey, too—the Islam of his host country and of the other characters; the Buddhist ideas within the Donovan song There is a Mountain, and his attempt to understand why the mountain disappears and then returns—a realization that comes from an understanding of oneself.
I find that authors sometimes ask themselves questions and let their characters answer them. Do you think this is true for your character?
Yes, definitely. Leonard Smith’s questions are mine. He’s on a journey, and his inner struggles with identity and core beliefs lead to a kind of psychotic crash. He survives it and comes away with a more contemplative outlook on his world.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book is a sequel to my first novel called The Cuckoo Colloquium. I’m not sure what we’re going to call it, but it’ll be out on Amazon in January of 2022.
Writer Leonard Smith wants to go home, but he’s stuck in Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur during Covid lockdown, and the airlines seem haphazardly selective about who flies and who doesn’t, based on the type of travel visa one holds.
While waiting for the opportunity to get out, Leonard agrees to look after the belongings of another tourist—the Kiwi—who’s committed suicide. The dead man, also a writer, has written a bizarre manuscript concerning real-life accounts of a brutal minotaur housed within a labyrinth. Before he realizes it, Leonard finds himself in custody of the embalmed corpse, storing the dead man until he can be transferred for burial in another city.
Through a bureaucratic screw-up, Malaysian authorities confuse Leonard with that of the deceased Kiwi—who possesses just the right kind of visa. Is Leonard capable of assuming the false identity of the dead man for a chance to go home?
Getting desperate while holed-up with a wily cat, a 13-year-old house guest who could possibly be homicidal, and a dead man in the closet—that at times doesn’t seem all that dead—Leonard slips into profound questions of his own identity.
The only way to find answers is in the labyrinth—where the minotaur waits.
About Literary TitanThe Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.
Posted on October 10, 2021, in Interviews and tagged A Labyrinth for Loons, author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, covid, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, humor, kindle, kobo, literature, michael greco, mystery, nook, novel, psychological thriller, read, reader, reading, satire, story, writer, writing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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