Today it’s my stop on the blog tour for The Devil Upstairs by Anthony O’Neill and I bring to you a Q & A with Anthony.
A huge thank you to Jaz at Black & White Publishing and to Anthony O’Neill for inviting me to take part in this tour and for sending my a copy of this book.
Before I get started with the Q & A here’s a little more about the book and author.
About the Book:
Published: 5th September 2019
Pages: 304 pages
An allegorical thriller set in modern-day Edinburgh, The Devil Upstairs sees Cat Thomas relocate from Florida after fleeing death threats related to her job as a fraud investigator. Finding an incredible flat in a beautiful area of the city, Cat can’t believe her luck, until her upstairs neighbor appears. His loud music at all hours and utterly inconsiderate behavior leave Cat delirious with lack of sleep. After trying everything, her desperation leads her to ask for help from her colleague at a witches’ conclave where the devil is asked to intervene, and within just a few days, the neighbour is found dead. Disturbed by her dreams becoming a reality, Cat throws herself into her work, but as more bodies are found with links to her and her life, she confronts her colleague to find out exactly what kind of help she has accepted….
About the Author:
ANTHONY O’NEILL is the son of an Irish policeman and an Australian stenographer. He was born in Melbourne and now lives in Edinburgh. He is the author of seven novels including The Dark Side and Dr Jekyll & Mr Seek, recommended by Ian Rankin as ‘clever, gripping and reverent’.
Q&A with Anthony O’Neill
1: What made you want to become a writer?
I was writing books from an early age so I guess I was influenced chiefly by those books that had a big impact on me as a youngster: the Dr Dolittle series, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and Jules Verne’s Extraordinary Adventures. All feature men in top hats which is probably why I still feel drawn to the Victorian era as a setting (though not in The Devil Upstairs).
2: Your books are all so different, which was your favourite to write and why?
The problem with writing books is that it’s a lonely, monotonous experience and afterwards you remember virtually nothing about the months you spent chained to a desk. Having said that, I’d say The Lamplighterwas my best writing experience as (a) it was the first book I’d written where I received an advance (and a substantial one) and (b) it brought me to Edinburgh for the first time, which was a surreal experience.
3: What was the inspiration for The Devil Upstairs?
Regrettably the inspiration for the book lies in real experience – dealing with noisy neighbours, trying to get some sleep, and dreaming of way to kill people. I was so shocked by some of my homicidal fantasies that I confessed my sins to my barber. The barber laughed and said he had exactly the same problem and exactly the same homicidal fantasies. He said it was a huge phenomenon and urged me to write a book about it. It took me a while to devise a plot, however (in which the noisy neighbour element is just the first act).
4: The Devil Upstairs is set in Edinburgh, a city you moved to – much like the main character Cat. What made you decide to move to Edinburgh and how has is influenced your writing?
Most of all I think I was attracted to Edinburgh for the Georgian/Victorian textures. This is the setting of so many of my favourite books and movies and it’s one I feel very attracted to (and self-evidently is not something you find much of in Australia). The influence of Edinburgh can be seen in The Lamplighter, my second novel, in Dr Jekyll & Mr Seek, my sequel to the Stevenson classic, and especially in The Devil Upstairs.
5: The main character in the book, Cat Thomas, is a fraud investigator. What made you choose this profession for her and how does it feed into the storyline?
I used to work in a bank – and I wasn’t very good at it – so I had a basic grasp of the details. For the sake of the plot I also wanted Cat to exhibit predatorial instincts and a familiarity with the dark side of human nature. But having her be a cop or a psychologist would have been going too far, I thought.
6: Your barber persuaded you to write the book due to your own experience of ‘devil’s upstairs’, but also due to many of his customer’s having similar stories. Was it cathartic writing the book and what advice would you give to other people in the same situation
Writing the book was extremely cathartic and hopefully it proves so for readers suffering the same problem. Might I suggest that this book would make a perfect Christmas gift for a noisy neighbour? Beyond that, I’d suggest people with “a devil upstairs” should get a soundproofed ceiling from a professional company. I had my bedroom done and it made a big difference (though it wasn’t cheap).
7: This is your first contemporary novel – why did you choose to set this book in the present day?
The novel it most resembles in Rosemary’s Baby. I happened to be re-reading this a couple of years ago and thinking how superbly plotted it is. So it made sense to set my own book in modern times too.Unfortunately this meant that a lot of Australian idioms crept into the book (which thankfully were picked up by my editor).
8. Have you any plans for what you will write next?
I have two books in the pipeline, neither if which has been seen yet by my publishers, so I can’t guarantee which will be published first. But they’re both a return to historical settings and both very research-intensive.
*Details and images of book provided by/ taken from Black & White Publishing