Stephen Spignesi answers questions about Dialogues
Q: What is Dialogues about? (B.D. from CT)
A: A young New Haven woman is accused of murdering her six co-workers at the animal shelter where they all work. A court-appointed psychiatrist has to determine if she's fit to stand trial. If she's tried, and is convicted, she could get the death penalty which, in Connecticut, is lethal injection.
Q: Is Dialogues all dialogues? (L.M. from CA)
A: Not completely. We get to the know the main character, Tory, through her dialogues with others, but the book also includes one of her novellas and a short story, and there are narrative passages elsewhere in the novel.
Q: Is it true Dialogues is set in New Haven, Connecticut? (F.N. from VA)
A: Yes. It's set in Connecticut, including New Haven, Old Saybrook, and other locales. Locals will definitely recognize places, institutions, and businesses in the area (although they're all used fictionally, of course). Some of the streets are made up, but many are real.
Q: Dialogues includes a short story and a novella? What's up with that? (J.D. from CT)
A: Tory is a writer and, during the competency evaluation process following her alleged crimes, the court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Bexley is given access to some of Tory's college writings. Specifically, a novella titled The Baby's Room, and a short story called "Skyline Pigeon." The novella is about a young mother who has to live through the worst nightmare a parent can endure. The short story is about a young man who neglects caring for his mother one day to bring an injured pigeon to the vet. Are the stories relevant to Tory's mental state at the time of the cirmes? Dr. Bexley wonders. And so will the reader.
Q: Who is Dr. Bexley? (S.A. from NY)
A: Dr. Baraku Bexley is a Board Certified psychiatrist who is often retained to do court-appointed psychiatric evaluations for the state of Connecticut judicial system. He is brilliant, and astute, and it is through his questioning of Tory that we come to know her - and some of her secrets. Dr. Bexley's father was from Tanzania, and his mother was Jewish. I saw James Earl Jones in my mind when I was writing the book but you just know that if it becomes a movie, they'll want Denzel for the part!
Q: How long did it take you to write Dialogues? (T.S. from MI)
A: I wrote the bulk of the first draft in a white heat of creativity over a period of six weeks in the summer of 2003. When it was placed with Random House, I then did three major revisions over a period of about eight months. I was fortunate to have an incredibly brilliant editor who asked the perfect questions - questions that allowed me to bring the novel to its final state. She never told me what to do; she simply asked the absolutely perfect questions.
Q: Will there be a sequel to Dialogues? (C.W. from TX)
A: Well, that would totally depend on whether Tory lives or dies for her crimes, wouldn't it? Can't have a sequel if the main character is executed by lethal injection at the end of the first book, right? But you'll have to read the book to find out what happens!
Q: Where did you get the idea for Dialogues? (S.W. from VT)
A: Discussing the genesis of the idea would give away certain key plot developments, so I won't do that, but what I can tell you is that the entire novel came to me full-blown; i.e., I saw the entire book - the complete story - laid out in my mind before I wrote a word. This has happened to me in the past and it always bode well for the final book, as I believe it does with Dialogues.
Q: Is Dialogues about animals? (M.L. from AZ)
A: Tory works in an animal shelter and some of her duties there affect the turn of events of the story. The book is Tory's story, however, although there is also some discussion amongst the characters of the plight of unwanted animals in America.