Kevin Brooks Talks About … The Road of the Dead
Q: Where did the idea for The Road of the Dead come from?
A: Like most of my books, The Road of the Dead developed over time from a number of different ideas. In this case, I'd written half a book about the two brothers before, but it hadn't quite worked, so I went off and wrote something else. Then, sometime, later, I was thinking about an idea for a plot that I'd had in mind for a long time, and I realized that it would be a perfect storyline for the two brothers.
Q: Do you have any brothers or sisters? If so, how would you describe your bond? If not, how do you think this has affected the way you look at brother and sister relationships?
A: I have two brothers: one older, one younger. We weren't particularly close when we were growing up, but as we got older we gradually got to know each other a lot more, and now – although we don't see each other that much – we have much more of a bond than we used to.
Q: Do you think you’re more like Ruben or Cole?
A: I'm like Ruben, but I'd like to be like Cole.
Q: Why is that?
A: I like thinking about things, and I think about things a lot, but sometimes I wish I could just turn of all the thinking and deal with everything in a more straightforward way. Conflicts, for example. I've always hated any kind of conflict, and I've always tried to deal with it by thinking it through, trying to see all the different points of view ... and then, inevitably, running away from it! I'm a natural coward, which I don't necessarily think is a bad thing (it's always seemed a fairly sensible state of mind to me), but it would be nice now and then to have the ability to deal with conflict in the way that Cole deals with it – i.e. without any fear.
Q: The book follows a very hard journey for each of the characters. What was it like to write?
A: I really enjoyed it. Although it is a very dark book, and quite harrowing at times, I found it very refreshing to write. It really meant a lot to me, and I felt very close to the characters. And because it was a hard journey for them, I somehow felt that we were all in it together.
Q: Some readers have observed that The Road of the Dead has the feel, thematically, of a Western. Was this genre an influence on you?
A: Absolutely. I've read Westerns all my life, and they've been a huge influence on my writing. I could talk for hours about Westerns mean to me, and how they're never that far away from me when I'm writing, but with The Road of the Dead the Western influence was right there all the time. I've always wanted to write something that does more than just borrow from Western themes, but because I'm English, and my books are set mostly in England – and Westerns are intrinsically bound up with the geography and history of the USA – it's always been quite difficult. But I realised with The Road of the Dead that I could transfer some of the basic themes to a specific English setting (i.e. Dartmoor) without losing too much of the mythical element of the Western, and once I had the storyline and the characterisation worked out, it all started falling into place.
Q: Your next book, Being, is quite a departure from The Road of the Dead, which was itself something of a departure from Candy, its predecessor. Do you deliberately try to write a different book each time?
A: I don't set out to write something different purely for the sake of being different, but I definitely like to try different things. There's so much to write about, and so many different ways of doing it, that it seems kind of a waste to me to keep doing exactly the same kind of stuff all the time. Not that there's anything wrong with that, and as a reader there are some serial books that I really like, it's just not the kind of stuff I want to do as a writer. The world's too big to stay in the same place for too long.