For the three people
tortured by their secret complicity
in a young man's untimely death,
redemption is what they most long for . . .
and the last thing they expect to receive.
so begins the description on the back cover of Billy Coffey's latest novel The Devil Walks in Mattingly.
Billy has once again graced me with the opportunity to ask him a few questions about this new story and his work in general. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or your favourite beverage and sit a spell with us. Don't leave too quickly, there's a giveaway brewing at the end of our chat.
Billy, I appreciate that you're willing to take a few minutes to once again talk about your work as your latest book launches. I think I'll mix it up today, asking some deep and some more trivial questions.
Do you have more than one novel in progress at the same time, one getting captured on paper and others percolating in the background?
I do. I’m always looking for a story. I’m neurotic enough that I’m afraid those ideas will dry up sooner or later, so I like to keep a thick stack of them. I try to plan Novel B while I’m writing Novel A. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work out the way I’d like it to.Do you know as you begin a new work that you will need more than one novel to tell the tale?
I think there are two things going on with all of my books. There’s that single story, and then there is some mysterious overall arc that’s going on in this little Virginia town where all of these stories take place. I have no idea what that overall story is yet, but I’m hoping I will eventually.The Devil Walks in Mattingly feels like your deepest and darkest book to date. Did this story haunt you more as you brought it to life?
There were aspects of it that got into my head a little. Taylor’s character certainly did. Not so much because he did such awful things (which is certainly true), but that he did those awful things because of the deep pain inside him. I wanted him to be truly frightening at the beginning of the book, and truly pitied at the end.What do you have sitting on your desk while you write besides coffee?
So much stuff. Books, papers, pictures. I have an old tomahawk head that was found in a cornfield near my house. A small bust of Leonardo da Vinci. And plenty of pens.What tools do you use, paper and pen, keyboard or both?
It’s always paper and pen at first. I can write faster with a keyboard, but faster isn't always better. I have a Waterman fountain pen that I've used for a long while now. It’s my favorite thing. I’ll usually write a chapter longhand, type it into my computer, print it out, and then go line by line with a pen again.The people of Mattingly all seemed quick to accept blame. Do you agree that it is harder to accept credit for positive things?
It’s certainly true for me. There’s a fine line between carrying a sense of responsibility and being burdened by a sense of blame. There are people who believe themselves perfect and people who believe themselves horrible, and there’s little middle ground. Trying to find that balance that says yes, we’re flawed, and yes, we’re wonderfully made, can be tough. But it’s necessary.Can we expect to read more about Jake, Kate and Zach in future novels?
The Barnett family is slowly becoming central to a lot of these stories, especially Jake. As sheriff, he’s more often than not the man standing between the town and all this darkness. You’ll see all three of them in the next novel, especially Zach. You’ll see Allie Granderson from When Mockingbirds Sing in that one, too. It’s called In the Heart of the Dark Wood, and it’ll be out this November.Thanks for sharing your visions with us in such wondrous ways Billy. You leave us richer for the reading.
Thomas Nelson Publishers has been kind enough to make a copy of The Devil Walks in Mattingly available for me to give away to one lucky reader. All you need to do is:
leave a comment below telling me your favourite hot beverage (helps me think warm thoughts in the middle of this, our extended Canadian winter) and you'll be entered into a random drawing.
To earn extra entries, share this via Facebook, or Twitter or Google+ then come back and leave me another comment for each shout-out.
Keep watching here. Winner will be announced Monday when I post my review of this wonderful story!