An Interview About Devil's Bridge

The characters in Devil's Bridge seem like people we all know. Is that intentional?

Yes, I hope the readers identify with Myra, Topher, and even Gil. When I began writing the novel, I used situations that I and my friends had experienced. It's a universal truth to want to be loved the way you love someone else. Myra loves Gil. Topher loves Alex. And in a way, Gil loves Myra, but he can't accept her growing independence. I think we all hang with relationships for different reasons. Change is difficult, and it takes some serious self-confidence to say 'This isn't working. I can try to change it, but if that doesn't happen, I need to be ready to leave.' Everyone who has left a dysfunctional relationship knows how hard that can be.

 

A 'universal truth' is a good way to phrase it. The same relationship problems are happening to Myra (a straight female) and to Topher (a gay male).

I wanted to show that we all go through the same things: gay, straight, whatever. We're all one. No emotion is limited to a certain group. It's a novel about people, straight and gay, having parallel problems and overcoming them.

Myra seems to think she might be able to change Topher's sexual orientation and make him the husband she always wanted. Has that happened to you?

(Laughing) Hasn't that happened to everyone? Many gay men have female best friends, and these wonderful, caring women tend to want more from that friendship-especially when we're young. My best female friend in college, when I told her I was gay, said, 'but you're my back-up.' Yes, I had been pegged for marriage if someone else hadn't come along. I was flattered, but a bit shocked that she still thought I could become her husband if neither of us found someone.

Greg Lilly

Author of Devil's Bridge

 

Speaking of college, you graduated from Virginia Tech and that's where Topher went to school. Also, he and Myra went to the same high school you did in Bristol, Virginia. Is this autobiographical?

Writers tend to use their own experiences, although altered to fit the story. I graduated from John S. Battle High School in Bristol and then from Virginia Tech. I know those schools inside and out, so when I imagined Topher and Myra walking the halls or the campus, I saw those schools. I hope my friends and teachers and professors enjoy seeing these real places in the book. The scene where Topher and his friend Richard are discussing things over a pitcher of beer at Bogen's in Blacksburg is as real to me as the four years I spent drinking there in the early 80s. I like to use real places in my books for settings-it lends authenticity to the scene. I always hated reading something set in a place I knew and the landmarks are wrong or called by fictitious names.

Is "Devil's Bridge" a real place?

Oh yes. It's one of the first hikes I took in Sedona. The name sounds ominous and the end of the hike reveals a natural arch that is called Devil's Bridge and it looks threatening, so I knew that was a place for the climax of the story.

Gil is evil. What is his redeeming quality?

Well, I hope he's not pure evil. The man has his own baggage. His childhood wasn't the most loving and he learned to relate to women from his father who we learn wasn't a nurturer. I know Gil's character could not let his wife leave him without a fight. Divorce feels like a failure, and having to tell friends and family is complicated when a man is conditioned to not show emotions. I always think of John Kennedy, Jr. saluting his father's casket as it rolls by. Legend says that Jackie whispered to this three-year-old boy that Kennedys don't cry. What does that do to a child? I see Gil growing up with stunted emotions.

The novel is emotional, but fast moving. That's a hard balance.

I tend to write what I like to read. If I start reading a book and I feel bogged down in character study that goes on for pages exploring every aspect of the character, I put the book down and go to something else. The rule of 'Show, Don't Tell' comes to me as I write… And I guess I'm a child of television. I have quick scenes and dialogue that show the action without slowing down to tell the reader what's just happened. Readers are smart; they catch the events and add their own experiences to the story. David Morrell, a great thriller writer, explained his pacing as never giving the reader a reason to flip forward to see how many pages before a scene break. When a reader does that, you've lost him. Short scenes and chapters, story turns at least every couple of pages and cliff-hangers at the ends of chapters makes a book that's hard to stop reading.

You certainly succeeded there. Congratulations on the novel.

Thank you. I hope everyone enjoys the book.

     

© Copyright 2017 Greg Lilly