Here’s the latest installment in my Lukas Boston paranormal thrillers. This is what they call a full-length book at 60K words, but you know… back in the good ol’ days that’d be about half a book – hey still, for US$2.99 you can’t wrong. You can buy it from Amazon here.
Lately with the rebranding of my Lukas Boston thrillers and the Horror Story books my website hasn’t really matched the look and feel of the cover designs, so I’ve gone for a new theme with bits of dripping blood and whatever (sorry Manu, after all your work). It’s still a bit of a work in progress while I get my head around what the theme has to offer.
Let me know what you think!
Sorry for not blogging awhile. I’ve been attending a friend’s wedding on the other side of the country and it’s taken weeks to catch up. So… what better a writing subject after a longish break than discussing toilets? More specifically, what we do in them and when. Which, according to 99.99% of fiction is nothing – and never.
You see, I was reading a Neville DeMille novel. I’ve been a fan of DeMille for years. In this particular book it’s a fairly typical “chase” story with our hero and a somewhat reluctant heroine racing across the country either fleeing from, or madly pursuing, some villainous dude and, of course, they regularly find themselves holed up in hotels taking stock of the situation. It’s during these occasions that our hero manages to slip into a nearby store and buy some clean shorts and a shirt. DeMille’s slight obsession with our hero’s personal hygiene was intriguing.
To be honest, I’m quite happy to assume my heroes somehow deal with the sticky issue of soiled undies and even taking a dump somewhere without drawing my attention to the realities. I mean, during the God-knows-how-long trek by Frodo to Mordor to ditch the One Ring, was it mentioned at any time that he needed to nip behind the nearest Ent for a noisy Number Two’s? Nope, of course not.
Fictional heroes don’t do a lot of things. Like fart, scratch unseemly places, discreetly pick their nose when no one’s looking… which is a good thing, since most of this stuff comes under the “Too much information” category. Of course, there are exceptions to the unwritten, writing rule and some authors use such moments to advantage, but generally even our most flawed characters don’t require toilet breaks.
They don’t need a shower unless someone plans to stab them through the curtain. They eat about two meals per book. Many of them don’t have to call their mother. They rarely go shopping for normal stuff.
Wouldn’t it be a challenge to write a novel and include all the mundane, everyday things for the sake of authenticity? It’d probably get some kind of major, literary prize.
But no one would read it.
I haven’t checked for sure, but I think I have sitting on my PVR the last ever episode of Agatha Christie’s “Hercule Poirot” and – spoiler alert – (as if that’s somehow going to abruptly stop you reading this) in it Christie gently kills off our portly, penguin-like hero. Now the TV station will probably go back to bloody Miss Marple episodes – I’d happily kill that irritating woman with one of her own knitting needles (solve that murder, you annoying old tart).
I’m going to miss Poirot. David Suchet’s portrayal of the character was masterful and included subtle, clever hints that his detective genius and incomparable skills of observation were maybe even born from an OCD or Bi-Polar condition (such as a moment he needed to ensure both his boiled eggs were exactly the same size, before he could start breakfast). For us mere mortals watching on, like all the rest of the show’s cast – and, of course, the reader’s of Christie’s novels – there was never a chance we might beat Poirot to the punch. Meaning, figure out who is the killer before he does.
Mind you, I’m not sure we’re meant to. Did Agatha Christie write her novels in such a way that the reader had any hope of identifying the culprit? I’ll admit, it’s a long time since I’ve read any of her work, preferring the TV versions. P.D. James did… sort of. Far be it for me to criticise a doyen of the crime writing business, but I found her books hard work, however I reckon she chucked in a few genuine clues among all those smelly herrings. PDJ is still with us, by the way, aged 93. Maybe she can knock off Miss Marple for me? It’s not like she’ll get sent to jail at her age. Hell, couldn’t she call it research?
Whodunnit? These days, it’s just not on the menu. Crime fiction is all about torture, guilt, self-mutilation, humiliation, near-death experiences, blood, gore and psychopathic problems – and that’s the police who are chasing the criminals. The innocent victims in these stories are pretty much having a Disney holiday compared to the hell our hero detectives are living as they pursue the bad guys.
The modern crime novel tells of the agonising journey our hero undertakes on his/her way to solving the murder and rarely do we actually care who it is, when we get there. It’s almost incidental. Yes, the result is important – does the damsel in distress strapped to the timber mill band-saw escape in the nick of time? But is it any big deal who is revealed at the controls? Not really. Hopefully they’re wearing proper, protective equipment for operating power tools, that’s all. We don’t want to encourage any irresponsible work-place practises.
I’ve written two crime novels and they’ve done well, particularly in Germany (where my enormous publisher has gone bankrupt… aaaaaargh! But it’ll sort itself out). If there is one recurring criticism of my books it’s that the villain was too easy to pick for hard-core crime fans. Why? Because I felt obligated to give them half a chance by dropping apparently not-so-subtle hints in the story. Nowadays, I wouldn’t bother – no one expects it or probably even wants it. It’s more important that my hero is a hypochondriac cripple with a drinking problem. And a dwarf.
By the way, I’m not complaining. When it’s done well, like any good writing, it’s great. I’ve recently discovered Stewart MacBride and read everything he’s ever done as fast as I could get my hands on it. Check out his DS Logan McCrae series of novels but, if you can, try to read them in order. It’s not a continuing storyline – it’s brilliant, darkly funny character development. Don’t worry crime fans, plenty of people get hung, stabbed and shot, too. Nobody just quietly dies.
Like Hercule Poirot did, bless his stumpy little legs and waxed moustache. Maybe I can start watching repeats? Then I can figure out the killer before him – maybe. He solved more than a few crimes in his time and remembering them all…
Every cloud has a silver lining, or so they say, which sounds more like a bit of meteorological bullshit to me, but anyway…
With my German publisher Weltbild going rather inconveniently bankrupt I’m faced with some interesting choices. I’m not too worried about Weltbild. It’s a very large company and no doubt it’ll restructure and emerge from the mess in a better state — although there’s a risk they’ll use the insolvency to avoid paying its author royalties for the last 6 months. That might prompt an interesting foul- language post! In the meantime I’m left with writing stuff for fun, just for the hell of it, (which is always the best way to write by the way), because there’s not much point in writing more crime novels for my German readers until I know for sure it’ll ever see the light of day (sorry, German fans, but as I said, I’m sure it’ll all come out in the wash).
I’ve been looking at a few unfinished manuscripts that were curtailed, because no one thought there’d be a market for them. One is another And In The Morning war story and I was surprised to discover I’d written almost 60,000 words before shelving it. The problem was, I think, we believed there’d be a glut of such writing with the 100th anniversary of WW1 on the horizon, but that shouldn’t discourage a good story, right?
The second manuscript is a science fiction/thriller thing that has, as far as I’m concerned, a really unique premise. So unique that, so far, no one else “got” what I was trying to do when I showed around the initial chapters and the consensus of opinion was it would be a waste of time. I’m daunted by the premise myself! I reckon the idea is great, but can I make it work?
Maybe that challenge is exactly what I should be taking on? And after all, I’m not saying for a moment it’s a best-selling, genius idea, but unique books come from unique ideas and if none of us pursued these things and ignored the criticisms, literature would be a pretty bland place.
It’s also true that regardless of all the argument, debate and shit-fighting over the self-publishing industry, it is an option for manuscripts that traditional publishers won’t accept. These days, unwanted novels don’t have to languish in bottom drawers undiscovered.
That war novel is nearly half-finished though. Probably I’ll work on that first. Of course, there’s more than the beginnings of a new John Maiden (from Missing Pieces) crime book on my hard drive. If Weltbild pops up in a new suit and asks for it again, I suppose that’ll have to take priority… Bastards better pay the bills first though!