Andrew Barger Interview
(Book #1 Infernal Trilogy)
Q: Dan Brown has written a novel called The Inferno that includes symbolism from The Divine Comedy. Are there any similarities between your book and Dan Brown's?
A: I say this without having read his book, but I am pretty sure no two novels that draw from the same poem could be any farther apart. I wrote the first draft in 2008 and revised it in 2009. The book was also registered the copyright tin the book. Then I shelved it and finished off my first short story collection: Mailboxes - Mansions - Memphistopheles. My wife, Kyra, kept referring back to the characters and different scenes in The Divine Dantes: Squirt Guns in Hades. After a few months of this I finally got the hint that she wasn't about to let me quit on the novel or the trilogy. In 2011 and the early part of 2012, I finalized book I. With the dialogue and idiosyncrasies of the characters fresh in my head in 2012, I immediately wrote The Divine Dantes: Paella in Purgatory (Book II) and The Divine Dantes: Cruising in Paradise (Book III) in the last half of 2012 and first half of 2013, respectively.
Q: What is your favorite English translation of The Divine Comedy?
A: The Henry Wadsworth Longfellow version is the one I favor because there you have a nineteenth century poet translating a poet from the Middle Ages. To me, a poet stands in the best position to understand where another poet is coming from even though centuries divide them. It takes one to know one.
Q: Why did you include some of the classic illustrations of GustaveDoré in the books?
A: I think Doré has come the closest of any illustrator to getting it right, to drawing on paper what Dante must have been envisioning in his mind. Ray Bradbury in Something Wicked This Way Comes said that "Hell never looked better," when referring to the Doré illustrations of The Divine Comedy. There is a scene in book I where Edward T. Nad is forced to walk around Washington D.C. in his bathrobe. This fit perfectly with the illustration of Dante walking in his robe. I had to use it for that section of the book.
Q: Speaking of Edward T. Nad, you did a great job capturing the unique speech and actions of a twenty-something rocker. Were you ever in a band?
A: Unfortunately, no. It would've been a lot of fun, but the problem is I can't play any instruments. As Eddie would say, "That never stopped the Backstreet Boys!" My youngest daughter is crazy good on the piano. I have no idea where she got it seeing how I can't play one note.
Q: Do you have a dream band you would have liked to be in?
A: The Cure. I even blog about the band once in a while at disintegrationnation-cureblog.blogspot.com. The four hour, epic sets they have been playing from their extensive back catalog are unbelievable. I wish they would put out a new album, but I won't get into that here.
Q: In The Divine Comedy Dante does not meet Beatrice until the end of the second book. How was this a challenge in drawing parallels to the original poem?
A: That was one of the biggest obstacles I faced when starting to write The Divine Dantes. Eddie is a larger than life character. I wanted Bea to be even larger. The problem is, as pointed out, that Bea does not make an appearance on the chariot until the end of the second book. To introduce her sooner I used back-story and introduced her right in the prologue. Certain flashbacks keep her in Squirt Guns in Hades, along with the lyrics she wrote for the band's songs.
Q: You mentioned the songs of the band. Edward Nad has trouble settling on a name for the band.
A: Boy, does he ever. I had a lot of cool band names kicking around in my head and so I incorporated them in the story. There are over sixty of them. I dedicated a page on my Website that contains the entire list. For any fledgling band that adopts one of them, I give them free advertising.
Q: Do you have a favorite?
A: "Beelzebubbas" for a Southern rock band always puts a smile on my face. "Apocalips" for a girl band is cool, too. Don't get me started!
Q: Why did you set book I in Florence, New York instead of Florence, Italy?
A: There are a couple reasons. I wanted Eddie to be an American rocker and to be from New York. I set the start of book I in the fictional city of Florence venued in Upstate New York. Eddie, who has never flown, is not a Big City guy.
Q: You created a Facebook page for your main character, Edward Nad. Why?
A: It's a way for Eddie to live on outside the pages of the trilogy. Maybe it's digital therapy for me. I was sad when I finished the trilogy. I felt like I knew the characters better than most of my friends. When Eddie posts at facebook.com/Edward.nad.9 about all things rock-n-roll, it allows him to live outside the books and to have friends in the real world.
Q: Is there any Edward T. Nad in you?
A: (Laughs) More than I would like to admit.