William Bayer


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5 bolt book!!!

                      William Bayer
The Dream of the Broken Horses

Publisher: Pocket Books; ISBN: 0743403363

William Bayer, the author of 13 novels, including those featuring Detective Frank Janek, of which 5 were made into television movies has a new novel out which has been eagerly anticipated by many.  Although many fans might have been hoping for the next installment of his character from his books written under the pen name David Hunt, they will undoubtedly find themselves pleasantly surprised by this wonderful new addition to the literary scene.  A deep and penetrating look at one man's obsession of a murder that occurred during his youth, this book has great appeal.  David Weiss, a forensic artist, has never been able to let go of the murder of a rich and beautiful socialite, and one of his favorite teachers, who were killed during a romantic tryst.  Fearing that his father, a psychoanalyst who was treating the enigmatic socialite, may be involved, makes his resolve to find answers all that more important.  This novel is tendered with a deep sensitivity and eroticism that marks many of Bayer's previous novels, and can definitely be viewed as worth the wait.  

A Conversation With William Bayer

Q. How did you come to write "The Dream Of The Broken Horses"?

A. I'd been thinking about this story for a long time, at least fifteen years. My starting point was always a Parents Day meeting at a posh private country day school for boys between an impoverished teacher and the wealthy mother of one of his students. They would have an affair, then be murdered together in a shabby motel room across the street from a honky-tonk amusement park. It took me a long time to find a way of framing that material. When finally I set my mind to it, the novel quickly came together.

Q. Is Calista, the imaginary mid-western urban setting in your novel, really Cleveland? We know that's where you were brought up and that you attended a private day school there.

A. There're certainly elements of Cleveland in Calista, and elements of my old school in the fictional school in the book. But I made a decision early on not to get locked into a real place. I didn't want to restrict myself to the literal details of Cleveland, and to receive letters after publication that I had a street name wrong or the street didn't really run in such-and-such a direction. This decision was liberating in that it freed me to fictionalize far more than just a few details. It allowed me to create something entirely new that didn't exist. I made Calista into a river town, much like Cincinnati or Pittsburgh, when in fact, Cleveland is very much a city of the Great Lakes. I was also able to turn the school into rather a nasty place, while the school I attended was actually quite fine. But I won't deny that there're a lot of very personal things in the book.

Q. Can you give us an example?

A. Barbara Fulraine's diary would be one. As a kid I was quite a snoop -- maybe that's why I specialize in writing mysteries. Anyway, one day when I was around twelve I was snooping around in my mother's private papers, and I came across a pocket notebook secured with a rubberband. >From the way it was hidden away, I understood that it was important to her. Of course I tried to read it. It turned out to be the diary she'd kept during her psychoanalysis. The names of people were coded and much of the material was pretty intimate. The diary was so painful to read, I put it back where I found it. I tried to get through it a couple more times over the years, but couldn't. Then one day, when I was home from college, I looked for it again and it was gone. I've always wondered what all her cryptic entries were about...and that came to be the origin of Barbara Fulraine's totally fictional psychoanalytic diary that appears in the book.

Q. What about the unfinished psychoanalytic case study by Barbara's shrink, also in the book?

A. That's pure fiction, but the methodology I followed was Freud's. The shrink character, the father of the protagonist and narrator, David Weiss, becomes pathologically involved with Barbara, his patient. He tries to write up her case in the classic manner as exemplified by Freud in his famous "The Case Of The Wolf Man." But he becomes lost in the maze of her case, and his craziness in regard to her shows in his footnotes. By the way, I've always been intrigued by the kind of character I think of as "the troubled shrink" and by the psychopathology that often creeps into psychotherapist-patient relationships.

Q. David Weiss, your protagonist, is a very well-known forensic artist presently slumming in Calista as a courtroom sketch artist at a celebrity trial. But he doesn't care about the trial at all. Rather he's obsessed with the twenty-six year old double murder of his old French teacher and Barbara Fulraine, the mother of one of his classmates with whom he never got along. Later it turns out his father, a suicide, was Barbara's troubled shrink. So in a sense isn't he trying to complete his father's unfinished case?

A. That's exactly what he's trying to do, but in a totally different way. His dad wanted to decode Barbara's recurring erotic nightmare, which she called "the dream of the broken horses." David, on the other hand, wants to find out who killed the lovers and why, and, as a forensic artist, he has the skills with which to do that. He takes the courtroom job as an excuse to return to his hometown, Calista, and then spends most of his time delving into the old unsolved case. This was the structure I spent so many years trying to develop. As mentioned, once I had that figured out, the novel practically wrote itself.

Q. You give the impression that the book is very personal to you in many ways.

A. I think that's true. But it's important for me to distinguish between real events in my own life and the stories I tell in my fiction. The job of fiction writer, seems to me, is to draw upon real emotions while depicting fictitious events.

Q. Which raises a question -- why do you write murder stories?

A. I really can't think of anything more appropriate for me to do as a writer. Crime stories, it seems to me, perfectly fit the times, not just because we live in a fairly murderous era, but because these kinds of stories often tell us important truths about ourselves. Crime stories, by their very nature, are complete, constructed as they are of beginnings, middles and ends. For that reason I think they not only entertain, but, by imposing order upon chaotic events, they can also help us make some sense out of our chaotic times and lives.