Red Light, the third novel featuring Detective Katie Maguire of An Garda Síochána, the Irish police, is especially important to me because it concerns the continuing tragedy of people trafficking and sex slavery. It also deals with the highly contentious issue of legalised prostitution.
When I lived in Cork, I did as much as I could to support the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and inevitably came into contact with underage prostitutes of several different nationalities. Often these were young Nigerian or Somalian girls who had been sold by their relatives and brought to Ireland on false papers supplied by corrupt officials in their home countries. The scale of this business is staggering, and Cork has been described as the “vice capital of Ireland.”
The question of prostitution is much more difficult. While many religious and social organisations have banded together to form a movement called “Turn Off The Red Light”, there are still many women who depend on selling sex to make enough money for themselves and their families to live on, and many women who prefer being sex workers to any other job. These are just some of the problems facing DS Maguire... as well as some bizarre and inexplicable murders connected to the sex trade.
I believe that crime novels should be as realistic as possible and deal with current social issues, and while these Irish novels have been described by some readers as “too graphic,” I cannot ever see myself writing the kind of Agatha Christie-type novel in which the bishop gets bashed by a badger in the bathroom. I have also worked very hard to write novels which see the world from a female point of view, and which deal with the problems that women face at work and in their personal lives. Some readers seem more concerned about Katie’s love life and the chauvinism she faces from other members of the Garda than they are about the murders.
These novels have proved particularly successful in Poland. My late wife Wiescka was Polish, and she introduced my books to Poland back in 1989, when it was still Communist. Because of that I have built up an enormous readership in Poland, not only for my crime novels but also my horror novels and sex instruction books. I visit Poland at least three times every year, attending book fairs and fantasy conventions and appearing on TV and radio.
I was honoured this year to have a “Graham Masterton” park bench installed in Planty, the central park in Krakow, to acknowledge my contribution over the years to Polish literature. A QR symbol on the bench enables passers-by with smart phones to see my picture and hear me reading an excerpt from one of my novels.
I am continuing to write novels about DS Maguire, and about the criminal problems that still affect Ireland, such as drug-running and gang warfare. I am hoping that each of them will turn out to be “fair pure right class.”
Graham Masterton's Red Light is available from 5 June 2014 from all good book retailers.