This must be my week for coming across insightful interviews by some of my favourite crime fiction authors. After listening to the Gianrico Carofiglio interview on BBC Radio Five, I had another read of the recent interview of Reed Farrel Coleman by Megan Abbott and it contained this exchange.
Megan Abbott: You are frequently praised for your characterization. Is it the most important thing to you in crafting a novel? Setting/atmosphere/plot/ pacing/dialogue—how do you rank these in terms of importance as a writer? As a reader?
Reed Farrel Coleman: My answer to this question today is very different than it would have been at the start of my career. Initially, my writing was all about character, atmosphere and tone—which, for me, are intimately related to setting—and dialogue. While I maintain that these factors are still most important to my work, I have come to appreciate the value of solid plotting and pacing. Readers may forget the plot the second they close the book and the characters may live on in their heads until the day they die, but unless you give the reader reasons to turn the page and a solid foundation upon which to hang the characterizations, you aren't doing your job.
Carofiglio and Coleman agree you need a plot as well as good characterisation, whether your in Bari, or Brooklyn.
I will cheerfully admit to forgetting some plots even before I close the book, but not those characters.