John Gordon Sinclair on taking the plunge into crime fiction
Actor discusses debut novel Seventy Times Seven at Edinburgh Book Festival
This article is from 2012.
On approaching your first novel after decades spent working in another industry, it stands to reason that your job will influence the writing. It makes sense then that John Gordon Sinclair’s debut, Seventy Times Seven, has a cinematic quality to it, given the actor’s 32 years in the business.
‘The idea was originally to write it as a movie,’ says Sinclair, ‘but I quite quickly decided that I could spend a couple of years doing that, and it would sit around on someone’s desk without being read; or I could write it as a book, and then there was always the possibility of it being turned into a film later.’
The novel would certainly lend itself to adaptation. It’s two protagonists are Danny McGuire, a hitman in the pay of the IRA, and Finn O’Hanlon, a target who can shed some light on the murder of Danny’s brother eight years earlier. If it did get optioned off, chances are it’d be an 18; one scene in particular, involving a kettle of boiling water, is not for the faint-hearted. ‘I’ve read loads and loads of books about the Troubles, and nearly every single one always has a point where people say there was a kind of madness, an absolute madness that seemed to take hold. So I was trying to capture a bit of that, where you just think, “this is insane.”’
So did Sinclair have any particular actors in mind when writing these characters? ‘No, I deliberately tried not to make it specific. I wanted the reader to make up their own mind about who they thought the characters were.’ He pauses a beat. ‘Obviously, Angelina Jolie would have whichever part she wanted, that would be fine.’
John Gordon Sinclair, Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 26 Aug, 7pm, £10 (£8).