In Peter Robinson’s Children of the Revolution: An Inspector Banks Novel, Det. Chief Insp. Alan Banks investigates a murder that harkens back to the political activism of the early ’70s.
Why did you transform college lecturer Gavin Miller from pathetic murder victim to someone Banks comes to appreciate and even identify with?
It’s one thing to see a character as he has become after life has had its way with him, but quite another to see him starting out with all his dreams and hopes intact. Maybe the secret lies somewhere in the contrast between the two. I’m a great fan of those novels where innocence is lost one summer, but in most cases the loss of innocence takes longer than a summer, and Gavin Miller is a case in point. His is also a loss of more than innocence; it is the loss of the self.
What’s your favorite aspect of Children of the Revolution?
The characters. I have a soft spot for Lady Veronica Chalmers, whom I envisaged as a sort of Marianne Faithfull figure, evolving from the blonde ’60s beauty to the lady of the manor. Even though she often appears imperious, she also is sensitive, vulnerable, and intelligent, and she has a great deal of charm. I also liked Lisa Gray, a character who very much plays against appearances. She would be easy to write off as a certain type of screwup, if we didn’t get a look into her mind and heart. And, finally, I had a lot of time for Joe Jarvis, the dying miner, who appears only briefly but speaks eloquently and at length about his life and times.
Banks gets along well with his female colleagues, though as one female character observes, the police are still predominantly male.
It’s still true that the job can be made especially difficult for women because of the macho nature of that world. There are, however, many more women in the police force now than there used to be, and a significant number of them have reached positions of power. I thought it was important to reflect this change as the series went along, and now I find I have surrounded Banks with women.
Will we be seeing more of Oriana Serroni, Veronica Chalmers’s assistant?
Banks is on holiday in Italy with Oriana at the beginning of the next book, Abattoir Blues, which is the title of a Nick Cave album and song. The story centers on rural crime, beginning with the theft of a tractor but soon progressing to murder and missing persons.