May 13 2017
The first-person narrator of my novella The Boston Artefact is a bisexual 30-something woman. I don’t write much in the first-person. That said, I did it with Michael Aldridge in The Going and the Rise and with Martin Stannard in Dark Echo. And obviously I do it in those sections where there’s a diary/journal involved in the story. I think this was achieved most successfully so far in my fiction in The House of Lost Souls and The Waiting Room. It was challenging to try to voice Pandora Gibson-Hoare convincingly. And it was interesting seeing the post WW1 world through the jaundiced eyes of Bruno Absalom. If (as a writer) you want to go back to the Britain of 1927 or 1919 as I did respectively in those two novels, you want to get as close to really experiencing it as you can. It’s much easier to accomplish this as ‘I’ rather than as ‘He/She’. Or at least, it is in my view.
Michael Aldridge crops up again in The Boston Artefact when my heroine Veronica Slade appeals to him for help over something she’s researching and has a hunch he might have experienced first-hand. I don’t like all my characters and frankly some of them are appalling people, but I like Aldridge a lot. He’s a loving and modest man. It’s easier to write about characters you already know. And I’m working on a sequential series of Jericho Society themed stories (starting with The Going) that I plan to bundle together when I’ve completed four of them. They’ll make a total volume of 100, 000 words and may end up reading as much like a novel, with the chronology, as they will like individual stories. They’ll be best read sequentially.
Patrick Lassiter from my Colony trilogy is another character I like. He’s an interesting balance to me of shrewdness and fallibility and a much nicer man than it suits him to pretend. Which is why, as I wrote in my last post, I’m mulling over a prequel, involving him as a young detective investigating the suspicious death of a spirit medium in North London.
My favourite character chart is pretty fluid – much like my personal take on the best/worst of my books. My opinion over that changes pretty much whenever I think about them or see their covers. Recently I listened to David Rintoul’s Audible recording of Harvest of Scorn to determine what I could have written better. I endured one session with the headphones plugged into my phone when it seemed to me that every word of what I was hearing qualified. It reminded me of the graffiti my son scrawled in my notebook when he was about seven years old and resentful of the time I spent writing rather than playing with him: ‘All the rest of this is just crap.’ Fortunately, I’m a bit more positive most of the time. Currently my favourite creation is Rachel Ballantyne – not altogether human but memorable and with a proper character arc.
Today’s illustration is another of my brother’s paintings. I like this one, bright if not particularly spring-like.