In Kira Henehan's debut, Orion, You Came and You Took All My Marbles, a group of detectives may or may not be detectives, and what they may or may not be after is a mystery.
Where'd you get the idea for the novel?
I had been thinking a lot about reconciling the difficulties I have between form and language. What I had been writing before had been much more language-based. Putting the pieces together was like a jigsaw puzzle, and it was always a crapshoot if I would even get a narrative. I realized that trying to write something longer in that way would be like a billion-piece jigsaw puzzle. I also read a lot of Raymond Chandler and other pulpy L.A. noir, and I thought that could be a dress form on which I could drape language.
So would you consider this a detective story?
I was talking to my editor, and he asked, “Where's the body?” I said, “There's no body.” To which he said “Good luck with that. It doesn't seem like much of a detective story.” The noir aspect was just sort of a launching off point, and then I sort of left it up to the voice of Finley, the protagonist.
How'd you go about writing the novel?
I started thinking about it, and I wrote maybe 25 pages right off of the bat. And then I stopped completely and just thought about it at night in bed. I had this character's voice, but I didn't know what he was doing or who he was doing it with or why. So I guess it was that stream of consciousness thing that gave me an idea of what was going on. And then I started to worry that I would wuss out and that this bedtime story would lose my interest.
There are a lot of big ideas in the book. Are your characters standing in for concepts, or are they just characters?
I would say they're just characters, and ideas are a byproduct of the writing. The characters are definitely stronger in my mind than any ideas. It's the first time I wrote a novel; I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't know if it would be a novel at all or if it would be a four-page story that they would call “Poetry” in a literary journal.
What do you want your audience to take away from the book?
That's a hard question, because I don't know that I am trying to say anything. Any writing that I do starts out as entertainment—there's never any guarantee that anyone is going to read a word that you write. So I think it has to be satisfying for the writer. I'm not trying to make a larger statement about society or anything. I am curious what people who aren't me will think about this book. That's when it will become interesting.