Friday, August 17, 2012


Sarah Dupeyron, author of the thriller-romance Hashimoto Blues, answers questions about her novel's characters and inspirations. Visit her website.

How did you go about developing the character of Ellie Fox?

Ellie developed along with the story. I didn’t have a clear picture of her when I started writing, unlike some of my other characters. When a situation would arise in the story, I knew how she felt about it and how she would react, but it wasn’t a conscious effort to make her a certain way, she just came out the way she did. 

In Hashimoto Blues, Ellie flies an ultralight airplane called the Papy Volant. Why did you choose to make her a pilot?

In this case, the plane came before the pilot. The spark for my book ignited when my husband and I were visiting his parents in France. His father had just bought an ultralight airplane and we went to see it. The guy who shared the hanger with him had an old red ultralight with a wooden prop. It looked like it was held together with duct tape and bailing twine. That plane had character—I had to write about it! I immediately thought of certain illegal activities one could do with a plane like that. I needed a pilot for the plane and that’s when Ellie was born. I had some vague ideas before that about a criminal couple but I didn’t know who they were or what kind of trouble they were going to get themselves into. The plane brought all of that together and solidified it.

What was the inspiration behind the charming yet dangerous Max Cameron, Ellie’s lover and partner in crime?

My first impression of Max came one afternoon when I found a piece of sea glass in my coat pocket that had been left there from the previous summer’s vacation. I held it up to the light and thought, “That would be a really nice color for someone’s eyes.” I starting imagining what he would look like and, this may sound weird, having a conversation with him.  I finally realized this was the guy in the plane with Ellie. I have to admit that my husband played a part in it too—the funny thing Max does with his hair, that’s totally my husband. Every time he gets nervous, he pulls on his hair like that. The resemblance ends there, though.

The titular villain, Kendo Hashimoto, is a brutally ruthless crime lord. What can you tell us about him?

Hashimoto is the kind of guy who would kick a puppy when no one is looking. He goes to great lengths to look good in front of other people but he’s just a plain old scumbag. I like to know my characters’ details, their backgrounds, their likes and dislikes, even if I don’t put those details in the book. With Hashimoto, I didn’t want to get close to him. The inside of his mind was a burning black pit that was very hard to explore.

Hashimoto Blues is at once a thriller about escaping a crime lord and a romance about Ellie and Max’s relationship. When you started writing it, did you consider it primarily a plot-driven or a character-driven novel?

I didn’t consciously think of it either way but the characters definitely came first and were the more important aspect of it for me. The plot developed around them. I purposely picked characters that would be considered “bad people” and tried to make them likable.

If you could cast anyone in the history of cinema and television for a movie version of Hashimoto Blues, who would you pick?

This is a great question. I have a very specific idea of what my characters look like and the only one who has a corresponding actor is Frank. I’ve always pictured him looking like Paul Newman, around the time of the Sting. As for the others? I’m not sure I should answer, especially Max. Imagination is such a powerful thing that I don’t want to screw up someone’s mental picture of him. BUT, I think it would be really interesting to hear which actors my readers picked.  

Where do you go for inspiration when writer’s block hits?

I like to listen to music. I often use lyrics to get me started on a story. The Rolling Stones played a part in Hashimoto Blues, mainly Tumbling Dice. The lyrics say “You can be my partner in crime” and that little phrase got me thinking about a criminal couple. 

Are there any aspects or experiences from your own life that made it into Hashimoto Blues? Characters you relate to? Locations you’ve been to?

They always say, “Write about what you know.” I know nothing about being a criminal, but Ellie has a lot of my own personality traits. She’s at once smarter and dumber than I am, but we both always have our noses in a book. She goes beyond anything I would ever do, though. I have a criminal mind but not a criminal conscience; I can come up with a boatload of devious plans that I would never dare do for fear of being caught, making someone feel bad, or disappointing my mother. Ellie, on the other hand, never thinks of any of those things.

All of the locations in my book are places I have been. I’ve spent a lot of time in both Burlington, VT and Montreal, QC. A friend of mine lived in Burlington and used to take photos of people riding the deer statue in front of city hall—that’s totally taken from real life. If you walk down Sherbrooke Street in Montreal, you can find the Musée de Beaux Arts, the Ritz hotel, and the very strange looking house where Hashimoto lives. There is a club SuperSexe on Ste. Catherine and a crêperie on Rue St. Denis. Eagle Ray’s is a real bar in Roatán, Honduras. Describing locations adds an aspect of realism to a story and I feel a lot more comfortable doing that when I know the look and feel of the area.

Are you currently working on any future projects?

I am writing a sequel to Hashimoto Blues called Don’t Kill Norman. I also have been playing around with two more stories that could possibly turn into novels, a western and a supernatural romance. 

Hashimoto Blues is available at: Amazon US (Kindle e-book), Amazon US (paperback), Amazon UK (Kindle e-book)

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