In Parting Shot (Doubleday Canada, Nov.), a sequel to his Promise Falls trilogy, Barclay examines the dark intersection of revenge and social media.
Why did you choose to include a fictional riff on what became known as the “affluenza” case in your book?
I think what really got under people’s skin about this case was that it tapped into the notion that so many people feel they are no longer responsible for their actions. There’s always a reason why it’s someone else’s fault. And I think we’ve also grown weary of parents who make infinite excuses for their children’s bad behavior. That case took all these issues, wrapped them up, and put a bow on them. I thought there was a lot of material there.
What made you create an entire series focused on revenge?
What I call the Promise Falls trilogy— Broken Promise, Far From True, and The Twenty-Three—are built around the theme of revenge. Someone wants to get even with an entire town for its moral failings. Revenge is a powerful emotion and motivator, and I thought it would sustain those three books. When it came to Parting Shot, another Promise Falls book, I realized that the “affluenza” theme was drifting quite naturally into the revenge theme again, so I decided to link it a little more directly to the trilogy, even though Parting Shot is very much a standalone book.
As a Canadian, why write about an American town?
Well, for the record, I am a dual citizen. I was born in Connecticut, but my parents moved to Canada just as I was turning four, and eventually I became a Canadian. I have two passports. But aside from that, one of the themes in my Promise Falls novels has been the lengths ordinary people will go to in a failing economy. The mortgage and banking crises were much more of an issue in the U.S. than they were in Canada. And really, if I had Canadians doing all these nasty things, no one would believe it. We’re far too polite.
How big is Promise Falls, and how far is it from the border?
I think Promise Falls is about 40,000 to 60,000 people in size. I often picture it as Peterborough, Ontario, where I went to university and held my first newspaper job. It’s about an hour and a half from the border.