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An Interview with John Connolly

Exclusives’ Julie Wood was recently delighted to meet the charming John Connolly to discuss his latest book, The Whisperers, and many other things as well. Their conversation went like this:

EB: For our readers who maybe aren’t familiar with your work, or know who you are but aren’t sure necessarily why, could you maybe give a brief description of who you are, and where you’re from?

JC: My name is John Connolly. I was born in Dublin in 1968. My background is journalism. I wrote my first novel between the ages of about 26 and 29. It was a mystery novel, and it started a series featuring a character called Charlie Parker of which The Whisperers, the latest book, is now the 9th, but I’ve written 13 books so… I kind of hopped outside the genre occasionally, written for children and I’ve written ghost stories and I’ve written a kind of semi-literary novel for want of a better term. So I dip in and out of the two, but if I’m known for anything, and possibly people don’t even know that, it’s probably for those mystery novels, featuring Charlie Parker.

EB: Did you always want to write, or did it just sort of happen?

JC: No, I think had I been able to say when I was younger what I wanted to do for a living, apart from a brief flirtation with wanting to be a vet because I’d read too many James Herriott books, which I think everybody goes through, I had always wanted to be a writer, and I had always written, and I think people who end up writing for a living have always written. You do it because it’s quite a natural response to the world for you that you read stories and you think “I could probably tell a story”, and you begin writing. And I think, sometimes that energy gets channelled into other areas; it’s very hard to be paid to write, so you have to find ways to convince somebody to do it. I ended up in journalism. Some people end up (God help them) in publicity or PR, or whatever it might be. I ended up in journalism because it was a way to be paid to write, and someone once said the secret of happiness is to find something you would do as a hobby, and convince somebody to pay you the money to do it, and if you do that you will probably be a lot happier than the guy who is not doing that! So the impulse has always been there, but for a long time it was channelled into journalism and not creative writing.

EB: I can see you’re obviously passionate about writing, but what other interests do you have?

JC: I’m a really deeply tedious boring person! The difficulty is, but it goes back to what I was saying, if you do find the thing that you would have done as a hobby and as a pastime, and suddenly find that you’re being paid to do it, it becomes kind of all consuming. And that is the thing that I do. And part of being a writer and certainly I’m very fortunate of where I am, is that, you know, by the end of this year (although it was supposed to be a rest year), I will have delivered two books and will have been on five continents. So, you know, there is a certain amount of travel involved, and so when you’re not doing those things, when you’re not actively running around publicising the books, or when you’re not sitting in your office trying to write them, there tends to be very little time left to do anything else. I mean, I go to the gym, I walk my dogs, I read, but there is not really a huge space for another hobby for me because actually I really enjoy writing and simply getting to the point where I can deliver a book to my publishers on a regular basis seems to take up an awful lot of time.

EB: Well you seem to enjoy it, so that’s the main thing.

JC: I do. As I say I’m very fortunate.

EB: What other authors do you admire, or like?

JC: Well, that’s a kind of big question, because it’s changed over the years. There were writers who made me want to be a crime writer. They would be people like James Lee Burke, who, I think it was Jack Nicholson who once said of Marlon Brando: “When he dies, everyone else moves up one”, which is lovely, so Burke I look up to. Writers like Ross Macdonald… But as time’s gone on I read less mystery fiction. I suppose it may be like a magician going to magic shows… you can see how the trick is done sometimes, and I find there is a sameness that has crept into mystery fiction in recent years, because the genre has moved very much mainstream, and there is less experimentation, so I have a fondness for those writers I encountered quite early on as a reader, and then when I began writing. I quite like reading some of those first novels by writers, because often they’ll try to do something different initially, but now I find every second book for me is probably non-fiction, and that’s maybe a product of getting slightly older. Eventually I will only be reading books about the Raj and how good things were, and shouting at children on my lawn, and I’ve also found that, and again I wonder if this is a function of getting older, that I’ve gone back a lot. I’m conscious of the huge gaps in my reading, from when I was younger, so… I realised I’d never read all of Dickens, and I thought I should read Dickens, so every year I read Dickens and the problem is the more you read books that are stone cold classics, the thinner an awful lot of modern writing seems to be. You know, I was spoiled by reading Bleak House, I think Bleak House is probably the greatest novel in the English language, after that everything else seems kind of thin. And some similar impulses kind of happened with music. I mean I still buy a lot of new music but I find of gone back and I’m exploring little bits of jazz, and exploring that kind of English folk boom that happened at the end of the 60s into the 70s. You begin, I think as you get older, you become more conscious of the gaps in your knowledge whereas when you’re younger you’re constantly moving forward and looking for the new thing, and you eventually reach a point where you start taking stock and you think “Hang on, there’s all that stuff back there I don’t know anything about, and I feel quite ignorant about,” and so I drift between classics, very little crime fiction, non-fiction, but I’m a compulsive reader. I’m about to finish Peter Biskind’s book about Warren Beatty (an awful lot of Warren Beattie; an awful lot of women and an awful lot of Warren Beatty)! I’ll then read a James Lee Burke book which I’ve been saving as a kind of treat to myself. I went out and bought Dante’s Inferno at Exclusive Books in Hyde Park yesterday (you’ll be delighted to hear) because it’s kind of feeding into something I’m writing at the moment and I realised although I’d read it in college I really needed to go back and look at some of it. And I was at a reading last night, and I picked up a whole lot of books by South African writers I happened to meet. So I picked up Fruit of a Poisoned Tree, I picked up Mike Nicol’s Payback, so I got to pick up books that I would never have got in Ireland because I just probably wouldn’t have been aware of them, if they’d been available at all.

EB: Well I hope you enjoy them!

JC: I’m sure I will.

EB: You’ve mentioned music now as well. I see you’ve included a limited edition CD with your new book, The Whisperers, and also have released two other ones previously. How did you choose the music that went into that?

JC: Well, there’s a whole lot of reasons. On one level it’s just a geeky boy thing, you know, geeky boys hand mix-tapes to girls and go: “Know me, know my music”, but also I think, creative acts don’t exist in isolation. I’m very passionate about music; I’m passionate about reading. When I’m writing, although I never listen to music when I’m writing, I will occasionally recharge my batteries by listening to music, and I will also find sometimes listening to a song, or an album, there might be a lyrical reference, or a mood, that suddenly resonates with what I’m doing, and I think “Wow, there’s somebody that’s kind of thinking slightly along the same lines that I do”. You realise that you’re part of this kind of web, that things do not exist in isolation. So for the first two they were largely songs that were referenced in the books, because I would often pick out those lyrics and use them as chapter breaks. With this one it was really just, these were the pieces of music that resonated with me over the last two books where I thought actually, that’s quite nice. When my batteries needed a bit of recharging when I thought “This book is rubbish”, I would sometimes listen to one of those pieces of music and you kind of think “Actually, no that’s ok. I’ll go back to it now”.

So it’s a nice little thing to give to people with the book. It’s a way of getting people… In America it’s just been given to independent bookstores, and the list of bookstores is on the internet, so that it’s a way of getting people rather than ordering over a website, (and I don’t mean there’s anything bad with ordering over a website), but I want people to use bookstores. You know, if it’s that’s great, that’s a series of South African bookstores. I want people to recognise that there’s a good thing about going into a bookstore, and using a bookstore. There’s a great convenience of using websites, and I do, particularly for research books, but I am a compulsive browser. I’m one of those people bookstores dream about because I go in practically waving my money demanding to be sold a book! And I am disappointed when I come out of a bookstore not having bought a book – the bookstore has failed me if it can’t sell me a book, you know?

EB: Could you tell us a bit about your new book, The Whisperers, please?

JC: Well, it is to some degree about the aftermath of the Iraq war, although it’s not particularly an anti-war book because I’m not a wet liberal. I’m a liberal in the kind of, I guess, classic mould. In most areas I would be liberal, but I very much believe that there are times when you are justified sending the troops, and there is such a thing as a just war. The Iraq war is not a just war, but, you know, in the great scheme of things there are those things. But I had a friend named Tom who used to come to my signings, (well he gradually became my friend, initially he was just a nice man who came to my signings), and he gradually revealed that he had served in Vietnam. He had come back suffering from what was then “Post-Vietnam Syndrome”, what we now call  “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder’, that he still suffers from it, decades later and, over a period of years, as we got to know each other better he would tell me more and more about what had happened. And at the same time that I was meeting Tom once or twice a year when I was over in the States, the war in Iraq was taking place, the war in Afghanistan, and there was, on one hand a very private narrative which was this man’s individual story, and on the other hand I could see where it connected with all of these troops coming home, who were not getting the care and attention that they needed. I think if you send people to fight a war in your name, regardless of whether you approve of the war, you have a duty towards the injured who come back, and that is as much towards those who are physically injured as to those who are psychologically damaged. And the New York Times in particular became very interested in the plight of these veterans because what was found was there was an exponential increase in their suicide rates. For the first time the suicide rates among soldiers had exceeded the civilian rate. They were dying at a greater rate than they were dying on the battlefields – soldiers are more likely to die when they come home now than they are on the battlefield. And that’s the casualty we can count, because there’s a body, but there are all of these men coming back who are severely psychologically damaged, men and women, and that leads to all kinds of problems for society, because they’re often coming back to families where a wife has been struggling. Because you don’t get paid a lot in the army, the wife has usually had to take a second job, and suddenly this damaged man or this damaged woman is thrust back into the family environment. They’re more likely to have foreclosures on the mortgages, they’re more likely to end up homeless, the rate of marriage break-up, consequently, is higher, so there is a problem for society as a whole, so I was interested in that. But the thing about crime fiction, mystery fiction, is that the worst thing you can do in a book is stand on a soap box and preach to people, and say “Here is the stuff that I’m interested in, and that you now have to be concerned about”. Primarily people pick mystery novels to be entertained, and so the book is about on one level a group of disaffected soldiers who start a smuggling operation across the Canadian border, but realise that they’ve brought something back with them that is conscious, that is hostile, that is malevolent, and it begins tormenting them. And through this wanders this kind of troubled detective named Charlie Parker who tries to fit these pieces together. So it’s kind of, on one level, it’s a slightly scary mystery novel, but very subtly in the background are these details that you can choose to take on board, or not take on board.

EB: But they’re not forced upon you.

JC: No, they’re not, but I think that people who read a lot of mystery fiction gradually begin to realise that there is a certain body of writers who like the fact that you can sneak in stuff under the wire, and either consciously or subconsciously, the reader begins taking this stuff on board, and the more books like that you read the thinner the stuff you read that’s just about, you know, Joe Blogs, the serial killer, killing people according to the ABC murders, starts to feel. You realise actually I quite like the fact that there’s some substance and bite to the book, but I like the fact that it is not an issue book, whereas, you know, I think in a piece of literary fiction there is a danger that it becomes an issue book. With a mystery novel or with a genre novel, primarily people pick it up expecting to be entertained, and the writer has that duty to fulfil and the other stuff, by its very definition has to be put in, maybe a little more subtly. One of the most ridiculous things I heard last year, was that “Oh, literary writers are jealous of genre writers because we can do what they do but they can’t do what they do”. And you’ve got to put your head in your hands – I think it’s much harder to be a literary writer because you effectively have to reinvent the wheel every time, and whereas if you are a genre writer and especially if you’ve got a series character, there is a framework there, and there is also a guaranteed readership. As long as you write about this character, people will go out and buy the book. As a literary writer, there’s a more tenuous relationship, I think, a slightly more complex relationship, I would argue, and I guess that’s why I dip my toes into other genres, stuff like The Book of Lost Things, because I quite like that element of risk, because it’s too easy to follow that straight road.

EB: That makes sense to me. And, by the way, I really loved The Book of Lost Things.

JC: Oh, thank you. Thank you very much

EB: Now, Charlie Parker. He’s not your traditional “too good to be true” hero, he’s not a knight in shining armour. What do you think it is about him that draws people? Because obviously if this is his 9th book, people do want to read about him.

JC: I think he’s… he’s a flawed man trying to be better, and I think he’s quite human in that. I think on one level the books have always been an exploration of grief. Right from the beginning they were about grief, they were about what happens if something that you love, if people that you love have been taken from you, how do you go on living? You know, because you can simply collapse under the weight of grief, and you can let it break you, or you can kind of descend into this kind of pit of poison and violence where you just want to lash out at the world, and he has all of those impulses, and yet at the same time he has, because of what’s happened to him I think he has this extraordinary capacity for empathy. Having talked to so many people over the last few years, (because in terms of research you do end up sitting down and trying to talk to policemen or psychologists, simply to get material for your book and to clear things up), again and again that’s the word that comes up. If you ask them what evil is, they will tell you evil is the absence of empathy, that’s what it is. And therefore, by corollary, empathy, the capacity for empathy becomes associated with a kind of goodness, I think. I was very influenced by Ross Macdonald, who I still think is the great, the first great novelist that the genre produces, and Lew Archer, his character says “I hear voices crying in the night and I go see what’s the matter”, and I loved that, that recognition that, I think the Irish writer Edmund Burke once said that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to stand by, because you become culpable if you stand by. I like the fact that these characters are unwilling to accept that culpability, and they would rather intervene at cost to themselves. And you know he has a violent nature, and he lashes out, and every time he does that he loses a little piece of his humanity and so there are all of these kind of weird complex things going on inside him, he isn’t that clearly defined human being, and in The Whisperers at one point he more or less gives carte blanche to two people to say “Look, if you want to kill these people I really don’t care, you know I have no love for them. They hurt me and they damaged me and I’m angry at them and if you want to do it…” And he does, and it doesn’t trouble him, and he is a dangerous troubled man, but I think that there is an essential goodness inside him, that is still trying to come out.

EB: And that’s what obviously people like to see, people with troubles…

JC: Well, we do. We don’t want to see perfect human beings and the knight in shining armour thing doesn’t work really, and hasn’t worked for a very very long time, and so yeah, what people want to see is that there is something inside there. Because I think there is something in most people. We’re not evil – we’re greedy or selfish occasionally, but we’re not evil – and most of us are straining to be better and we kind of recognise the turn on the character who is actually starting to be better, but sometimes the world conspires against you to some degree, you know. You want to be nice to the old lady in front of you in the queue but she’s such an old bitch that you really, really can’t, and you think “God, why are you tormenting me with this old bag when I’m trying to be a nice person?”

EB: You mentioned earlier that you are generally traditionally seen as a crime writer, but you have written other types of books. Do you think you would continue doing that in the future?

JC: I think there are a couple of reasons for doing it. One is that I do like writing the Parker books, but when I began writing I wrote four in a row, and I realised that four in a row was probably as many as I could do without being in danger of burning out. If you exercise the same muscle day after day after day, that muscle is going to go tired, you’re going to strain it, and the other muscles are going to atrophy. You need to switch the muscles, and so to keep those Parker books fresh, and to keep fresh and interesting something that I value a lot, I sometimes have to step outside and do stuff that actually the vast majority of my readers would prefer me not to do, because readers are loyal to characters. They want that fix every year, because there is a comfort in it, but also because they have such affection for the character. They want that, to be able to dip into that, and it’s something that really only genre fiction and to some degree elements of science fiction and fantasy do, that idea of the recurring character. With science fiction and fantasy they tend to be sagas, by and large, so you tend to get three in a row, and then that’s the end of it. With mystery fiction you can follow a character for half a decade, you know, which is quite an extraordinary thing to do. You are naturally going to have a huge emotional involvement over a period of time, a huge affection. So there are these two kind of conflicting impulses, where there is that necessity of satisfying that urge to value this character that you’ve created, but also that urge to remain fresh and to keep improving as a writer. It’s, that lovely line from Blake “the crooked paths without improvement lead to genius”. None of us are, we are not geniuses, and A) you don’t get to decide that, and B) you’re not, ok! But the crooked path does lead to a kind of development that you don’t get if you simply follow that straight road and write the same book after book after book. So it is a chance to explore other areas, to explore other genres, and to stretch those writing muscles, you know, because not every story I want to tell can be told as a mystery novel, it just can’t, and so it leads to a degree of difficulty sometimes. I think there are some in the genre who might feel that I’m above myself, or that I don’t have faith in the genre, or that I’m not cleaving loyally to it, and that I’ve already polluted it by bringing in bits of the supernatural. You know, there is a very conservative rump to the genre that doesn’t like experimentation of any kind because it makes them uneasy, and at this point it’s actually quite nice to be in a position where you can say “You know, I really don’t care. Go and play with your pearls. We just don’t have anything to talk about”. And the other thing is that genres don’t progress unless there’s experimentation; nothing progresses without experimentation. We were talking about music earlier – if you look at moribund Nashville in the 70s, which was really just big hat music, and then you have a lot of these younger musicians who come along and think actually there’s a great deal to admire in this country music but it would be nice if somebody turned it up a bit, so you suddenly have alt-country, this weird hybrid where these people who listen to rock and country begin creating this wonderful new music, and then coming back in and reinvigorating what was there already. And that’s what happens. Stuff that happens at the margins begins to be absorbed. I think it’s quite interesting now that when I began writing my books, I would struggle to name any other writers who were really fiddling about with the supernatural. It really wasn’t the done thing. But over the last say five years or so and really it has nothing to do with me, it’s just part of the Zeitgeist, there were writers thinking actually, hybridisation’s actually really interesting, let’s do this, and if, eventually if you have enough people banging on the doors of the club, and the club has to let you in, you know, or the club has to just accept the fact that you’re not going to go away. So that’s what happens, I think. People fiddle about at the margins and gradually the margins become absorbed into the mainstream and then something different begins happening at the margins again. I think that’s lovely, that’s how genres stay alive, and there’s still a place for the traditional crime novel. We were never saying that it needed to be dispensed with, put up against a wall, you know! What we were saying is actually other forms can co-exist alongside this, and it would be good for the genre.

EB: It’s not the only way…

JC: No, there is no only way, and you have to have no tolerance for people who say that something isn’t allowed in any creative act. People who say that you can’t do that, at that moment you should automatically be thrown out of the club. A person who says that, they should have their pens taken away, you know?

EB: I know you have many loyal fans, but I know sometimes people can act, kind of, unusually when they meet their favourite authors. Do you have any interesting anecdotes?

JC: I don’t. Most of mine tend to be really really lovely. My issues arise, so many issues arise because people don’t really know what authors look like. We don’t have that kind of public profile that musicians have, or that actors have, and I was at a convention in the United States and a woman came up to me and she said “I’ve been looking for you all weekend. I love your books, I really do. So please don’t go – I’m just going to room and going get my book, and I’d really like you to sign it”. I said “That’s absolutely fine”. She came back and handed me a copy of Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue and said, “Will you sign that for me please?” and I thought “Oh, God, okay”. You know, we all have a funny accent. My readers tend to be pretty lovely, and we’ve been quite careful in the way the way that we’ve run the website and the discussion forum in that I actually pay somebody to keep an eye on the forum. People get very head up on internet forums because of the immediacy of email, and being able to… You know, you will write things, the equivalent of “dop and dial”! But we do it, or going on eBay late at night and suddenly deciding that you really need 100 old annuals from the 70s. You need to keep an eye on how people interact with each other. If you give them a forum in which they can interact, somebody has to be responsible for it. And I’ve seen writers who are not doing it, who are not being careful, and that’s where trouble arises with fans, and with people who like your books. And they won’t often be arguing about your books, they’ll argue about something else entirely, and it will become really, really unpleasant, so we keep an eye on them. And people have been ticked off, and occasionally I’ve had to write private emails to people and say “Look, glad to have you here but A) this is not a dating forum for you and B) you can’t say that to people, whatever it may be.” But by and large the people who go to my things are really, really lovely, and there’s quite a spread, which is quite nice. There’s a spread of age groups, and I think that may be in part because of things like The Book of Lost Things. I mean it was a book written for adults, it’s an adult book, it’s an adult conception of childhood, but teenagers come with battered copies, because I guess they’re going through all of that stuff at the time. There was a little girl in Arizona last year; I was doing a talk at a school in Phoenix, just outside Phoenix, and I was talking about The Gates, and I think I must have talked to about 800 kids over 4 hours and I was exhausted. We weren’t actually selling any books, I was just an excuse not to be in class. It was fun and everything, but I thought “I need to lie down now”, and this little girl came up, and she had a really battered copy of The Book of Lost Things and she said, “So I really liked this book” and I said “Thanks very much and do you want me to sign it?” and she said “Yes, and my mother died about 3 months ago”, she said, “And I was reading this book at the time”. You want, I wanted to hug her. It was not really going to be appropriate in the school, you know, but she was the sweetest little thing. And things like that are really lovely. That’s kind of why I feel a bit sorry for writers who don’t want to go out, who don’t want to do those bookstore things, and who are quite enclosed about it, because you’ll have those moments when you kind of realise that’s kind of why I write books because somebody gets it, somebody gets it, and liked it, and you come away walking on air after everything. Not so much after that poor little girl because I just felt unaccountably depressed for the rest of the day, on her behalf, but, you know, you kind of get it. So that’s really nice. The whole fan thing, by and large for me, has never been a negative experience apart from being mistaken for Ian Rankin, or other writers. I did an interview once in Asia, and a lovely lady sat down and she said “I really enjoyed your book, very profound”. “I am quite profound, aren’t I?” and she said, she said “And now I hear Martin Scorcese is going to film it” and I said “Really? My book? Where did you read that? I must have missed that!” She said, “Oh, it’s fantastic. Let’s get onto the subject matter of it. You’re obviously a hugely compassionate, giving person” and I thought “Are you sure? Well, maybe”, and she said “No, clearly you are, it comes out in the book” and she said “Do you miss an ambulance in New York?” and I kind of did, because I’d never done it, you know! She thought I was Joe Connelly, the guy who’d written Bringing Out the Dead, because I have one of those names, and forever people come up to me and say “I love those Harry Bosch books”, you know. I have one of those names that fits into that conception that four people are similar. So you learn not to have too much of an ego, by this point if someone says that I just say “Thanks very much”, you know.

EB: Do you have any other books in the pipeline at the moment?

JC: I came over here with a nearly finished draft of the sequel to The Gates because I had such a good time writing that little book. It is, all of the experimental books are written out of contract; I don’t go to my publishers and say “Listen, I’m writing my great Russian novel, give me money!” And I like the freedom of not having any obligation to them, and the deal we have is essentially if they like it they can publish it, if they don’t I’d probably be a bit hurt but it wouldn’t be a big falling out issue. And then I’m going to start the next Parker book, and I have an idea for two completely non-genre books, both novels, and I will do one of them after the Parker book. Increasingly that urge to experiment is getting stronger and stronger, and it’s feeding into the Parker books to some degree where in a book like The Whisperers the narrative has become very fractured. They are all attempts to experiment, and not be satisfied with producing the same book over and over again. And there’s a kind of comfort in knowing that ideas aren’t the currency, time is the currency. That’s the only frustrating thing. You have all these fantastic ideas and you know that you can write them, but you just think “How do I find the time?” And because I want to do a Parker book at least every second year, because they have a kind of momentum in terms of where the books are going, that, to keep that momentum they have to be coming out fairly regularly. So, I can really only pick one book in between to do, but there is a comfort in knowing that those books are lined up if I choose to do them, and I know what I want to do, which is really nice. It’s consoling. I’d be terrified if I were sitting here going “I don’t know, I don’t know, I have no ideas!”, but it’s great. And it’s one of the difficulties I think for people who want to write. There are all these preconceptions people have about writing, which are simply not true. One is that writers find writing easy, which generally they don’t, and if they do they’re probably not doing it right. If you’re finding it easy you’re not trying hard enough, I think! But also it’s that tyranny of ideas, that there will be a moment, and there’s a moment whenever I’m writing a book, where I begin to doubt the worth of the idea that I’m working on, and there will always be the siren call of the new idea. The moment you abandon one book because the idea is more interesting than the last one you’re doomed, and I think that’s what happens to people who try and write. They have half-finished stories and they have half-finished books and have half-finished poems because they think “Well this idea isn’t very good but that other idea is great”, and in writing there are no bad ideas. They just, they don’t exist, they really don’t. It is a problem with the execution. I mean, I say that, in the extreme if you said “I want to write a book about a sympathetic paedophile detective”, that’s probably going to be a bad idea, that’s just yuck, but by and large…. but even then you might manage, who knows what you might manage to pull off? It could be quite an extraordinary experiment, but by and large probably not going to find a big audience. But even then… I sat with Mark Billingham around after dinner, and we were coming up with really bad novels, what would they be, and it was like, you know, and you’d think like “The phone rang in my office. ‘Adolf Hitler, Detective’, I answered”, and things like that, you know, where you just put the book down after the first sentence! But even that there’s probably a whole lot of Neo-Nazis going, “Oh, I always wondered what Hitler would be like as a detective, you know?”

EB: Have you enjoyed your visit to South Africa? Have you been here before?

JC: I’ve been coming here for a decade now, my other half is South African, so I came over primarily to hang out with the in-laws and watch the football, and watch the football. I love coming here, and it’s been kind of interesting to see changes occurring over that decade, and also just to come here at the time with the World Cup, not just because it’s nice football, but actually because the mood. I’ve never been at a sports occasion where people have been friendlier, where the people who are putting you on buses or taking your tickets, or just serving you a beer, have been so pleasant to deal with. It’s not usual, and I think Europeans in particular who’ve been to a lot of sporting occasions, and Americans, are going to come away with a huge sense of wellbeing, because it’s not usual, it’s not typical, and so that’s been really amazing. Also I think you’re going to have a big downer, once everybody goes home. It’s like the end of a party, but you’re not going to be as down as you were before, not that you were down, but we’ve elevated the national mood slightly, and it’s always going to be slightly higher because of it, and I think that’s a really wonderful thing to say. So I think it’s been an enormous credit to everybody involved, but I think a lot of it is to do with the national character, and people are going to go away with a hugely positive view of South Africa and spread it around. I think it’s lovely, because every time I go home I tell people “You have to come here!”, and they say “Oh we’re going to be killed!” I’ve had more crime committed against me in Dublin, than I’ve ever had in South Africa. I’ve never even had my wallet touched here. It’s a lovely country to be in, so I think it’s been an enormous benefit to be here, to see what’s happened with the World Cup’s been fantastic. I’m having a lovely time as always. I don’t go home until the middle of July, so I have a lot of time to hang out. And I don’t feel I have to do too many of the touristy things anymore. I did them, so I actually just to run around, and go to the mall, drink coffee and watch the world go by, which is really lovely.

EB: Well, I think that’s all the questions I have for you. Thank you so much!

JC: It’s a pleasure! It was lovely.

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