Author J.A. Marley's Godsend is released today by Bloodhound Books. Godsend is the sequel to Marley's Standstill, but can be enjoyed as a standalone.
A recent house move has temporarily (I hope) derailed my reading so John has come to the rescue with a piece for the blog.....
I’m A Sick Individual
I’m sick in the head.
In my defence, it is for very good reasons, but I am pretty sure that my brain does not work in the same way as most people. When you spend your days staring at a blinking cursor on a word document, your mind starts to twist. You’re trying, on a daily basis, to surprise and delight your audience. This leads to having devious thoughts. Your priority is to obfuscate, to divert, to create literary sleights of hand. A famous author (I can’t recall which at the moment, my brain is too twisted) told me that writing a thriller is the art of the reader second guessing you as you second guess them second guessing you. Got that? Makes your eyes water thinking it through but he is right.
So, my thoughts are constantly trying to wriggle their way through a twisty plot, or the creation of a character whose motivation might suddenly shift direction, but can only do so in a credible, believable way. See? Discombobulating!
It makes for a curious mindset most of the time. When writing Godsend, I wanted the characters to spend a lot of the time trying to second guess each other so that the reader had to do the same. Hopefully all that sick mindedness pays off…let the reader be the judge!
The sickness also reveals itself in other, more subtle ways. I’ll explain. It’s a sunny day, you decide to go for walk with the dogs and a loved one. People are strolling through the leafy glades admiring the blue sky or enjoying the smell of the woodland plants. But me? Noooo. I’m not doing any of those things. I’m imagining whether or not the car park is a good spot for a secluded drug deal or if that thicket might be the perfect place to conceal a cadaver.
This sort of thing happens to me everywhere. Stuck in traffic? I’m not humming along to the radio, I’m looking around to see which direction my lead character, Danny Felix, might flick the steering wheel in, while mashing his foot on the accelerator and pulling a manoeuvre to escape a pursuing foe or worse still, the Old Bill. I know I’m not alone in these fanciful, visceral pursuits. Other crime writers do it too. Crime readers might find themselves thinking about where a body might be concealed too from time to time, but not the constant flow of twistedness that us lot get up to in service of them and the entertainment levels in our books. We think about this stuff constantly
I remember once scaring the bejaysus out of my chiropractor. She had just finished flinging me around the room like a ragdoll and as I paid her for the privilege I asked her the following question. “You know when in action movies the hero grabs a guard or a villain by the head and does that twisty, neck-wrench thing and breaks their neck. Is that possible? Will that actually kill someone?” To say that there was a pause of at least five seconds in which you could hear the birds singing outside and traffic going by is not an exaggeration. She stared at me like I’m a sick individual (which we’ve already established I am). Finally, I reminded her that I write thrillers and she exhaled with some relief. The answer is yes, by the way, but it is not as instantaneous as the movies make it out, and the victim will die a slow and very tortuous death.
And so, to absolutely leave you in no doubt as to me being sick in the head, my last piece of evidence is this. I love it when people ask me what I do. Because I can simply never resist the temptation to look them straight in the eye and say, with a casual air, “I plan robberies and murders and how to get away with them.” The look on their faces is just too delicious to pass up. I’m sure this little hobby will get me ejected or arrested at some point in my life, but the risk is worth it, and I don’t care I’m having fun.
And that is the absolute truth of what we crime writers are doing. We are having fun. Fun in the darkest sense, yes, but it is endlessly fun to weave stories of mayhem, murder and malice. And in being allowed to do so, I, and most of my fellow writers, feel completely blessed.
Hope you enjoy Godsend as much I enjoyed writing it.
J.A. Marley April 2018---------------
J.A. Marley has his website here.
He's on Twitter - @jamarleybooks