How I came to write The Strange Case of the Composer and His Judge
There are several answers to the question – how did you come to write The Strange Case of The Composer and his Judge? All writing grows from seeds – and a writer’s curiosity when they come to investigate those seeds. I have always been fascinated by sects and warped forms of Christianity. The first seeds were sown by the Reverend Jimmy Jones and the mass suicides in Guyana. His followers either swallowed, or were forced to swallow, poison. Jones himself was shot. Who was his killer? No one knows. In the early 1990s I watched a French television programme about the Temple of the Sun, another sect that ended in mass suicide. The interest for me here was two-fold: the surviving relations were deeply wounded by the fact that they had no idea whatsoever that their loved ones were involved in the sect, and did not consider their families to be the ‘kind of people’ who would be duped by fraudulent religions. But who is the ‘kind of person’ that chooses to believe what their relatives consider to be nonsense? I began reading about sects. One of my close friends had been involved in dozens of 1970s sects, everything from the Rosicrucians to flying saucers. There are fashions to follow; recent converts never dream that they are simply seduced by a trend.
Then, in a university seminar post 9/11, I listened to a discussion among my students about suicide bombers. One of them argued that there had to be some worth in a cause for which young people were prepared to sacrifice their lives. No, I exploded, amazed at how strongly I felt, the fact that they are prepared to die for what they believe tells you nothing whatever about the worth of their cause, but everything about the strength of their faith.
And so I began to write The Strange Case of the Composer and his Judge. In writing this tale I dramatized two conflicting ideologies, which are part of my own intellectual structures, eighteenth century Enlightenment rationalism versus absolutist nineteenth century Romantic mysticism. I am a disturbingly rational, skeptical person, very calm in crises, and quite unafraid of ghosts and vampires. However, my novels come from my imagination, which is a dark and sinister place, filled with horror, obscure passions and atavistic fears. The rational voice was the Judge; she is the skeptic. The believer is the Composer, a man possessed by music and his strange, unfathomable Faith. Which side in this battle can possibly win? To find out–you have to read the book!
© Patricia Duncker
This book was sent to me by Bloomsbury free of charge for my honest review.