In Martinez’s The Oxford Brotherhood (Pegasus Crime, Apr.), a discovery about Lewis Carroll results in violence.

What led to this book?

I was writing a prologue for a translated book of recreative logic by Lewis Carroll, and wanted to add some lines about his life. When reading some articles, I came across the subject of the missing pages of his diary. I immediately thought that there was a novel there, and I started to think of a brotherhood of scholars, which would give me both the suspicious cast and the dramatic tension from academic rivalries.

You’ve said that you were inspired by the Sherlock Holmes stories. How did you merge the concept of a brilliant intellectual sleuth with the world of mathematical logic?

I wanted to create a detective who could follow, in some original way, the three main types of investigation that I recognized from my readings as a teenager: the purely abstract logic of Poe’s Dupin; the detective of the physical, material evidence, to be traced, found, and interpreted—Sherlock Holmes; and the detective of psychological details and the little distractions during small talk—Agatha Christie’s detectives. Since I had been studying mathematical logic for 15 years, I decided to make him a logician who knows about the trickeries of reasoning and of logic paradoxes.

Do you feel that you have conclusively answered the question of what motivated Carroll to take such an interest in young children, especially girls?

It’s hard to state anything “conclusively” in his case. I did try to give hints about the scholarly discussions around him and to point out as well the differences regarding the notion of childhood, nude paintings, and children’s photographs in Victorian times, the later turns to repression, as well as the lack of social condemnation about an adult approaching little children. His nephew, for example, devotes in his biography two whole chapters to Carroll’s relationship with little children, and describes it with naive pride, as one more proof of his generous heart, and his search of God’s light in the purity of these angels on Earth that children were considered to be. I tried to collect in my novel all the arguments, but it’s for the reader to finally weigh the evidence for and against him.

What’s your view on cancellation in art?

I don’t share and don’t like at all any idea involving cancellation in art, either in the past or in the present. Art lives, above all, on what is evil, hidden, untold, monstrous, unconfessed, in human beings. To “sanitize” art is just to kill it.