Thursday, May 18, 2023

Q&A with James Polkinghorn



James Polkinghorn is the author of the new novel Liquid Shades of Blue. Also an attorney, he lives in Key West.  


Q: What inspired you to write Liquid Shades of Blue, and how did you create your character Jack Girard?  


A: I had the basic idea for the book in the back of my mind for many years, although the actual mechanisms of the story, including how the apparent suicide would be carried out and how the Duke's role would be revealed, didn't occur to me until I was actually writing the first pages.  


Jack is an amalgam of people I have known, physically, intellectually, and emotionally. I was attracted to the idea of a young, idealistic man deeply affected by prior events, grappling with their impact on his current life but also on his past life and the way he remembered/thought about it. What he puts together is a story of his own redemption.  


Q: How would you describe Jack's relationships with his family members?  


A: Deep. Jack interacts with his brother, father, and mother on spoken and unspoken levels that seem to be understood by each beyond the words they share. 


 Q: The author Michael Connelly said of the book, “Liquid Shades of Blue is a ride on the lethal waves of corruption and murder in a place that shimmers like diamonds in the sun. James Polkinghorn knows these South Florida courtrooms and waterways like the back of his hand.” What do you think of that description, and how important is setting to you in your writing?  


A: I appreciated Mr. Connelly's description in part because he grew up in South Florida and knows a lot about the area, as I do. I definitely wanted the book to feel authentic and to transport people to the places where events took place.  


I think setting becomes critical to the reader's ability to form strong emotional responses to the action by placing them where the characters interact--both with each other and with their environments.  


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?  


A: I had a general sense of a confrontation on the water between Jack and the Duke before I started writing. The actual ending, in its details, came to me much later and even changed a little after I had finished what I thought was a complete story.  


Q: What are you working on now?  


A: I have a follow-up novel in the process that finds Jack Girard in Key West a couple of years later, dealing with more trauma.  


Q: Anything else we should know?  


A: I'm very grateful that people are getting a chance to meet these characters and consider them and their choices. All of them made momentous, life-changing decisions. Maybe it's just me, but I think there is growth to be found there. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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