Neal Drinnan, author of Rare Bird of Truth and a bunch other racy moral thrillers, knows the publishing world inside out and back to front, and it is this world that he draws on in his latest novel. Rare Bird of Truth may not be quite the elaborate costume drama of The Devil Wears Prada or the musty affair of 84 Charing Cross Rd but it is unsurpassed when it comes to the themes of betrayal and suspense.
The demarcation line between people’s public personas and their private lives has always brought seeringly real scenarios and perceptions to his stories, but this time Drinnan has spliced all the ingredients together for a real pot-boiler – sex, scandal, murder and mayhem with plot twists that will knock the wind right out of you . It is these ingredients that make this author’s books the guilty pleasure so many readers have come to love. Like Chuck Palahniuk or Irvine Welsh, Drinnan’s imagination dishes up horror, heart and humour with a plot to keep you guessing until the end.
I asked Neal Drinnan to spill the beans on what makes for a ripsnorting read. In other words, what is the Rare Bird of Truth and where can we find it?
“Truth is a rare bird who seldom settles for long is a quote I prefaced the book with and certainly it is a bird you have to keep your eye on throughout the story”, he said.
“Most of the characters in the book have enormous gambits at stake in terms of wealth and public persona. The edges between truth and illusion are often blurred and the story uncovers layer after layer of buried secrets to do with affairs, sexuality and illicit drug use. There’s something and someone for everyone! Who is going to end up with whom and which of the explosive secrets is going to shatter their worlds first is the real question. If you liked Notes on a Scandal, Line
of Beauty or The Talented Mr Ripley , you’ll find plenty to enjoy in Rare Bird of Truth. People play dangerous games with each other and of course ultimately there is a price to pay.
“Rare Bird of Truth really is a case of art imitating life imitating art. I’ve been twenty years in marketing and sales and spend a lot of my time hunched over a desk mumbling and grumbling about how to avoid using the words like unputdownable or redemption in marketing pitches while still conveying the fact that the book is unputdownable and that readers will be ultimately rewarded with a hearty dose of redemption. So I’ll steer clear of all those clichés today!
“What are the similarities between Virgil Mann the protagonist in Rare Bird and me? He’s Australian, he works in publishing and holidayed in Ibiza in the summer of 2000. Both Virgil and I had our wallets stolen and both of us had an idea for a book. Beyond that I’ll leave you to guess the rest yourselves. Virgil, like me still believes discretion is the better part of valour. Whether it ultimately adds to or subtracts from his valour in this story is something else for readers to decide….
“I have had the good fortune to experience every aspect of publishing over the past 20+ years and while writing about it in this book I have finally pulled together all the strands of my spotless professional reputation and my scandalous personal one. I have laundered here all my pains and passions: sales, marketing, metrosexual diversity, depression, scandal, travel
and England… that green and pleasant land that constantly lures me back to her cosy bosom for bitie and who is as much a character in this book as anyone else.
“Virgil Mann also shares one ongoing dilemma with me too. He can never quite work out how attached people are to their power and position and how fragile their egos might be when tested. He, like me assumes that when people are taking their jobs very seriously or getting themselves lost in the world of reputation and acquisition, that they are just wearing a mask, a mask he himself has never managed to master. Virgil like me thinks it must all be a big joke and at any moment the lights will come up and we’ll all be children playing dress ups in the back garden because none of us is really ready to play grown-ups yet.. If we are playing for keeps we have a long way to go before any one of us is truly in a position to judge another or fully asses his motives.
“At the very heart of Rare Bird of Truth is the message that we are all much more connected than we might think. Virgil like me tries to keep everything in perspective but the chemicals in his brain don’t always allow it. He, like millions of others has tried to see if antidepressants can fix him. His findings are mixed and I hope readers will use them wisely. Virgil Mann learns that fortune is always changing and good luck and bad luck are brothers who switch coats… Often.
‘The only advice I have to give is… Watch that bird!!!”
Rare Bird of Truth, which comes with notes for reading groups at the end, is a February release.