A Q&A with Robert Pobi
You've said in other interviews that you don't necessarily enjoy focusing on graphic scenes in your writing, yet Bloodman
contains some fairly disturbing descriptions. Why did you choose to include them?
Robert Pobi: Bloodman is a story that has a serial killer at its core, so there are going to be some unpleasant things that have to be done. I couldn't have written the book without showing how the characters were affected by what was going on around them. I had to show what they had seen. So we both had to visit a disturbing headspace, the readers and I. The trick was to do it without making it lurid--which, in the end, made it even more jarring.
Q: Tell us about the research involved in creating such an isolated setting and complex characters.
RP: The first time I went to Montauk, I knew I'd end up writing about it. The hurricane idea grew because to this day, you still hear stories about the 1938 Long Island Express, the storm that nearly flattened the island. And I needed a place where a famous artist could live in relative obscurity, so it all came together. In hindsight, I had been collecting research for this book for a long time. Mindhunter, by Mark Olshaker and John Douglas, set the whole thing in motion. And from there I spun off into newspaper archives, interviews, news footage, and biographies. All the things I read helped me nail down my main character, Jake Cole, because they all became part of his lexicon, his day at the office. And I tried to give the hurricane, Dylan, some good chapters. He took a bit of research. The National Hurricane Center was very helpful.
Q: Which other authors or books have influenced your writing?
RP: The novel that made me realize that popular fiction could be smart was The Eiger Sanction by Trevanian. Every author has that one book that he loves; The Eiger Sanction is mine. I keep a copy of it on my desk. The only other obvious one, I guess, would be Thomas Harris's Red Dragon. It's a beautiful novel, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the specter of it was behind me during all the late nights I worked on Bloodman. Seth Morgan's novel, Homeboy, knocked me out. Morgan had a massive voice. I wish he'd written more. I heard that the first chapter of his second novel is floating around out there. Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea and Islands in the Stream still mesmerize me. I don't know how he did it, I really don't. And if I don't mention The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I'll regret it.
Q: Have you considered trying your hand at other genres?
RP: I'm working on contractual obligations for different publishers right now, so my roster for the next two years is: psychological thriller, horror story, techno-thriller, detective story. I honestly can't see writing only one kind of book for the rest of my career. I wouldn't know how. Since different countries have different perceptions of Bloodman, I get to flex a lot of different muscles, and I love the freedom. There are too many things I need to try.
From Publishers Weekly
Former antiques dealer Pobi boldly announces his arrival as a cunning novelist with this grim and gory debut thriller. FBI contractor Jake Cole, burdened with an uncanny ability to mentally recreate 3D crime scenes, returns home to Montauk, NY to care for his estranged father, a renowned painter suffering from Alzheimer's. But Jake is soon called into action by local authorities to help capture a ruthless serial killer who scalps and skins his victims. Tormented by his morbid profession, a dysfunctional family history, and the blood-thirsty psychopath, Jake must immerse himself in a past he thought he left behind decades ago. As the victims pile up--and a Category 5 hurricane bears down on the coastal town--he becomes convinced that the secret behind the thousands of mysterious canvases stacked along the walls of his father's art studio will lead him to the killer. Pobi revels in grisly scenes, and though the chilling finale might feel lacking, the author's cinematic vision and precise attention to detail, as well as a subtle trail of clues and a tight, macabre plot, trump character clichés and the incomplete denouement.