The Truth About The Baltimore Boys: Joël Dicker Introduces his Latest Novel
'I didn’t ask myself what I should do, but what I wanted to do. All of us are products of our childhoods, and I wanted to discover his.'
For any novelist, writing a follow-up to a successful novel is a challenge, even more so when that novel is the global bestseller The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. In The Baltimore Boys, author Joël Dicker dives again into metafictional mystery where his main character, like himself, is struggling to better the blockbuster that made his name. Here, exclusively for Waterstones, Dicker explains what drew him to delve more deeply into Marcus Goldman’s murky past.
Cover Image: Joel Dicker © Caroline Forbes
I had the idea to write The Baltimore Boys in 2012, in the weeks between finalizing The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair and its publication. In my early versions of The Truth… I had written “To be continued” on the final page, I suppose because I didn’t have the impression that I had really finished. But finished with what? With the American ambiance? With Marcus’ Goldman’s character? I’m not sure. But I do know that once I sat down to start writing again, I wanted to continue with Marcus’ character. I felt the need to dive deeper into his character and into his psyche, and I wanted to give him a bit more background.
I realised that although Marcus’ character was very visible in The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, he wasn’t described in detail and we knew nothing about his family or his past. So I wanted to give him an identity by writing a book about his roots, and more specifically about his bonds with his cousins, Woody and Hillel. The novels are connected since they both have Marcus Goldman, however they can be read independently. I aimed for a continuity in the stories, but not a sequel.
I did feel that in The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, Marcus’ character, a character that I am attached to, had been somewhat squeezed out by the investigation and by novel’s focus on who had killed Nola Kellergan. I felt that even after spending 600 pages with him, we didn’t know much about him. I thought this was one of the weaknesses of my novel, so I wanted to fix that by telling his story, about his family and his past.
During the two years I spent writing The Baltimore Boys, I had the great fortune to travel extensively and meet thousands of readers. In their enthusiasm, a lot of readers gave me advice for my next book. “You should do the same thing as Harry Quebert!” suggested some. “You should do something completely different!” insisted others. But back at my desk, I didn’t ask myself what I should do, but what I wanted to do. All of us are products of our childhoods, and I wanted to discover his.
When I was younger, I had dreamt of writing a trilogy. So as I was writing The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, I imagined that there would be more stories. However now with the success of the Marcus Goldman character, I think perhaps we’ve heard enough from him. Or at least for a while…
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