Former drummer Michael Kardos’s debut novel, The Three-Day Affair, centers on a spur-of-the-moment kidnapping.
How did you go from a career as a musician to being a writer?
After graduating from college, I played in rock bands for eight years before concluding that the best way for me to keep enjoying music was to stop doing it professionally. By then, I was reading a great deal of fiction and beginning to write regularly. I loved that all I needed to create a story was a pen and paper, or a computer, rather than tons of gear and other guys and a beatup van, a belligerent bar owner, and an aloof soundman.
Did your musical background influence your fiction?
A fundamental connection between music and fiction—for me, anyway—has to do with shape and structure. A story or novel has recurring motifs, shifts in dynamics and tempo, staccato and legato passages, introductions, codas, just as a Bach fugue or a Beethoven symphony has a narrative quality. The languages are different, but compositionally there are similarities.
Where did you get the idea for The Three-Day Affair?
I’d written a short story about a bus driver who inadvertently hijacks his own bus filled with kids. He has too much on his mind and so he skips a stop, and by the time he realizes what he’s done, he’s skipped another, and by then he knows he’ll be in trouble, so he just keeps going. This novel imagines a wholly different circumstance and set of characters, but I wasn’t done exploring this idea of making an ethical choice at the instant when it matters, and how delaying that choice even for a minute or two is, in essence, making a choice.
Can you expand on that?
I’m always interested in the difference between someone who does the heroic (or even decent) thing automatically, and the person who decides to do it. They’re both good people, right? But what if that second kind of person is denied the time that decision making takes? Does he or she then become an unethical person? The characters here are intelligent and highly educated, but that education has endowed them with a sort of hubris: they believe they can always think and talk their way toward a solution, which leads easily to rationalizing. So the novel throws these guys into a situation where they’re in a car and each second they take to think and talk moves them farther down the road and deeper into trouble.
Are any of the characters you?
Like my protagonist, Will Walker, I know what it’s like to be in a rock band that doesn’t pay the bills. That’s about it, though.