Morrow’s first crime novel, The Forgers, tells a tale of larceny and murder in the high-stakes world of literary grifters.
I’ve been fascinated by forgers for a long time. There are certain forgers from centuries ago who, even now, are so legendary that they are collected. William Ireland, who forged Shakespeare documents, is one. When you achieve the level of mastery such as the forgers in my book, just a simple signature doesn’t satisfy their desire to change history—really, to change reality. You’re jumping in there, you become a coauthor and you’re brazenly tampering with history itself and the whole notion of authenticity.
What intrigues you about figures like the forger/narrator?
I’m drawn to characters who feel that somehow they’re not doing anything particularly wrong and have difficulty judging themselves. I think there are many people in this world who on a daily basis deceive themselves even as they’re deceiving others so that they can excuse themselves. And I find those characters very psychologically complex and interesting and capable of remarkable activities, I guess you could say—often remarkably bad.
Did you try your hand at forging?
I was too busy writing my book. But I did find myself interested more than ever by how people’s handwritings differ. On the cover of the book there’s handwriting by two very famous authors, and people are already trying to guess which belongs to whom. At one point, I did study graphology, just for the heck of it.
What was the writing process like for your first crime novel?
It was one of the most joyful experiences I’ve ever had as a writer. I was just so in the rhythm of the book, really wanting to see what was on the next blank page. It was almost there waiting. With all the books there are periods of this, but this one was just so focused and so concentrated. Once I had that opening line I never looked back.
Was it harder than usual for you to say goodbye to the characters?
Some people have read the last pages and said oh, you have this all set up for a sequel, don’t you? And I say well, not knowingly. I think it’s a pretty finished book the way it is, but… Endings are very tough. It’s easy to start a book. I’m fond of the fact that The Forgers ends on a hint of futurity. I like to think when you get to the end of the book that it lingers, it’s not really over, and you find yourself wondering well, what is going to happen next?