Sunday, January 20


British journalist and bestselling novelist Robert Harris recently published a political thriller by the name of The Ghost. It involves a Tony Blair-like former prime minister who hires a ghostwriter to write his autobiography. My father enjoys Harris' historical fiction and Nick Hornby (Harris' brother-in-law) often mentions him in his Believer column. Other than that I know nothing about this dude. But I might have to read his latest offering. Robert, would you please tell the people why? "I've only been to Martha's Vineyard out of season but I love seaside resorts when they are more or less deserted. In winter, when only the locals are left, Martha's Vineyard has a haunted quality which I used as the backdrop in my new book, The Ghost." How about that!

More from an interview:

Ramona Koval: From war crimes to other kinds of crimes and episodes of political behaviour, Martha's Vineyard lends itself to memories of Chappaquiddick as well. Putting them on Martha's Vineyard, that was obviously a bit of a gift, wasn't it, there?

Robert Harris: It was great. I knew that I had to have my British prime minister living somewhere in the US to write this memoir and keep an eye on the war crimes court and my publisher suggested Martha's Vineyard because it's got all these wonderful associations with the Kennedys and the Clintons and the kind of liberal elite in the US. Katherine Graham the owner of The Washington Post had a house there, Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace of CBS, all these people. And Rose Styron, the widow of William Styron the novelist, agreed to show me around and was incredibly kind and helpful.

There's nothing like a seaside resort like that in December, out of season, shuttered up, it's a perfect location. You know, the Atlantic rolling in, the mist, the cold, the empty shops, the lights in the gloom at night, it was perfect. So my ex-prime minister is holed up in the house of a media tycoon who's publishing his memoirs, trying desperately to finish the book. And that lent itself very well to the sort of mood of the book which is one know, the promise of summer has gone, winter has set in, and secrets are being unravelled. It's a famous place for ghosts, Martha's Vineyard, actually, it's an old 19th century whaling community. There are lots of ghosts, and on Halloween you can imagine the place being alive with spirits.

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