Q. How did you get the idea to write The Spinning Man?
A. A few years ago a teenage girl disappeared from a lake in a small town in Massachusetts, west of where I live. News reports said that the police were interested in a suspicious white car seen in the parking lot about the time of the disappearance. I began wondering about who was in that car and for what reason he (I presumed a “he”) might not come forward to the police. If the driver were guilty of an abduction, of course he wouldn’t present himself to the authorities. But there seemed to me to be good reasons why an innocent man might also not want to step into the limelight. Becoming the object of suspicion can be a traumatic experience, especially when it’s so difficult to prove that you did not do something.
Q. So guilt and innocence are primary themes in your story?
A. Yes. I wrote from the close, third-person perspective. The action is always seen through the eyes of my protagonist, Evan Birch. Readers are accustomed to trusting the narrator in any novel. At some point in The Spinning Man, you have to decide whether you will continue to believe Evan’s explanations, given the mounting circumstancial evidence against him.
Q. So your novel tells the story of a real girl disappearing?
A. No, I deliberately didn’t read anything about the missing girl because I wanted the freedom to invent my own story.
Q. Why does the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein keep appearing in The Spinning Man?
A. Wittgenstein was a fascinating Austrian thinker who wrote widely admired philosophical treatises focusing on language primarily. Like many philosophers, he lived a somewhat tortured life, documented in Ray Monk’s biography, The Duty of Genius. I was interested in the possibility of my character, a philosophy professor, having a secret private life that could be more and more revealed as the story went along. Wittgenstein’s life provides a nice parallel, and of course, he’s very quotable.
Q. Where can we find out more about Wittgenstein?
A. Monk’s book is a good start., and I’ve provided some links to web pages of interest.
Q. Is The Spinning Man a mystery, a thriller, a literary novel?
A. I suppose a little of each. I actually hadn’t thought of it as a thriller until it was described that way in the Kirkus Review. I certainly didn’t write a standard genre mystery. I hope I wrote a mainstream, literary novel that has a mystery at its core.