September 20, 2007

Interview with Broos Campbell

Chris sat down with The War of Knives author Broos Campbell this morning to check in and see how Peter Wicked is coming along, chat about Toussaint, the movie, and play a little fantasy cinema with characters in the Matty Graves novels.

C: So, what have you been up to, working on the third novel in the Matty Graves series?

B: I just turned in an extensive rewrite of Peter Wicked, book three in the series, and the glossary. I still have to finish the maps and the historical note. That last will be difficult in that I pretty much made everything up, except for the layout of the White House. Oh, and a column that Matty hides behind at one point. I don't think there were any columns on the main floor of the President's House at the time. Other than that—pure lies.

C: How has writing this one compared with the others? Is this indeed a trilogy, or is this more of an open-ended serial venture?

B: I hated The War of Knives until fairly far into the revisions. Jackie Swift, who is a fantastic editor, cajoled and pushed me along until it started running on its own accord. Now I like it a lot. I'm having a similar experience with Peter Wicked. It's only now, in what I hope is the last rewrite, that I've gotten to admire it. If I can read it for the hundredth time and still like it, I figure it's pretty good.

I hope Peter Wicked won't be the last of the series. I have plans for another triplet, set in the
Mediterranean during the Barbary Wars. I wrote a rough draft of the first one a while back.

C: Regarding the movie production of Toussaint, what do you think of the casting of Don Cheadle in the role of Toussaint Louverture? Any opinions? I'd say that's great casting. I
mean, who better? Although, that Chiwetel Ejiofor's pretty sharp too.

B: They're both in Talk to Me, which I haven't seen yet but want to. Don Cheadle is an excellent choice to play Toussaint. I'm not sure who Ejiofor is cast as, but I hope it's as Christophe. He was a complex man.

Mos Def and Jonathan Rhys Meyers seem to have joined the cast, too. Mos Def would be great as the monster Dessalines, and Rhys Meyers as Sonthonax, the subtly wicked French minister to the colony. I don't know which roles they actually have, though.

Naturally I'm glad that anyone's doing a biopic on Toussaint, as it'd be a boost to me, but mostly I'm hopeful about the movie for Toussaint's sake. His is a great story, filled with glory and tragedy. I hope also that it reawakens interest in Haiti. Those poor people have had a shockingly terrible time for two centuries now. We owe them much better than we've given them.

C: Who'd play Matty Graves in the movie version of The War of Knives?

B: Dunno. Whoever the American version is of Ioan Gruffudd, who did a fine job as Horatio Hornblower. If you darkened his skin a bit and taught him to talk like Davy Crockett, he'd be a hoot. He's getting on a bit, though. He must be 30 by now.

I know who I'd want to play Cahoon, the Irish sergeant in The War of Knives—Rick Crawford, the Belfast actor who helped me with Cahoon's dialect.

-Peter Wicked will be published by McBooks Press in September 2008.

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