22 September 2014

Meet My Character: Francis

by Janice Law

My SleuthSayers colleague Fran Rizer, author of the Callie Parrish mysteries, has tagged me for the Meet My Character Blog, so here goes with Francis.

Name of character- real or fictional?

Francis Bacon, gay bon vivant and painter. He’s both real and fictional in that, yes, there was a real Francis Bacon, Anglo-Irish artist, creator of images of screaming popes and the now ultra valuable triptychs. There is also my character, whom I think of as FB, who resembles the original but who, after three novels, has begun to take on a distinct personality, doubtless better known to me than to the original.

When and where are the books set?

The first novel, Fires of London, was set during the Blitz. The second, Prisoner of the Riviera, was set immediately after the war in London and along the French Riviera and drew heavily on holidays at San Raphael, a charming small town a half hour from Cannes. The last, Moon over Tangier, was set in the International Zone in Morocco in the early 1950’s.

What should we know about FB?

Someone described the real Bacon as “camp as an army base and tough as old boots,” a nice summation for a very complex character. I’ve tried to keep some that complexity for FB as well. For instance, if you know that he was a promiscuous gay man fond of rough trade, you form one impression. When you then learn that he lived with his adored old nanny until her death, you revise the picture more than a little bit.

Similarly, although he was a militant atheist, his great subject was the crucifixion and it is really too bad that he was never commissioned to paint an explicitly religious painting. Early and late, painting was the key aspect of his life and the creation of works on canvas kept an otherwise rackety and dangerous existence under control.
Conflict in his life?

The real man had plenty, having been kicked out of his home at 16 for trying on his mom’s underwear. He was fond of makeup, too.

In the novels there are two regular sources of conflict: the forces of law and order that want to make use of his expertise and the motorized vehicles that always seem to give him difficulty. The Blitz presents additional problems in the first novel; blood feuds surviving in post-war France complicate the second, and in Moon, the famously spy-ridden International Zone presents a cornucopia of difficulties.

Personal goals of character?

Pleasure and excitement and successful canvases. FB likes drinking and good food and carrying on and handsome men and painting, first, last and always. In the novels, survival is also a big imperative.
Where can you read about this character?

In the trilogy comprised of Fires of London, The Prisoner of the Riviera, and Moon over Tangier, all from mysteriouspress.com in ebook or print.

8 comments:

Fran Rizer said...

Good morning, Janice. Thanks for accepting my tag. I thoroughly enjoyed the books, and this blog leads me to do more research on our friend Francis Bacon.

janice law said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed FB and I think you'll find the real man worth investigating. Michael Peppiatt's FB: Anatomy of an Enigma is a fine biography

David Dean said...

Your FB is a great character, Janice--wonderfully unique.

Leigh Lundin said...

Janice, as you know, I enjoy your Francis Bacon. He's a stroke of genius on your part (and his own). Really brilliant, Janice.

Janice Law said...

Many thanks- but give most of the credit to FB and his biographers who preserved a really unusual individual.

Stephen Ross said...

Janice, art history is a pet interest of mine, so I came to Prisoner of the Riviera (I've started in the middle) with some prior knowledge of Bacon. I loved it, that's exactly how I imagined Bacon would be like.

Jan Grape said...

My daughter wrote an essay to prove that Wm Shakespere's work was written by Francis Bacon several years ago. I'll have to buy your books, read them, then give to my daughter. I'm very intrigued.

janice law said...

Interestingly enough, the painter Francis Bacon was actually named for the renaissance Francis Bacon, because his dad was convinced that they were related. The painter was not so sure, but then is relations with his dad were never the best!