One Little Lie by Sam Carrington (Guest Post / Blog Tour)

Hi guys, today is my stop on Sam Carrington’s blog tour, celebrating the release of her new gripping novel “One Little Lie”. If you’re like me and likes reading guest posts then you’re for a treat today, as Sam has written a little piece on location in the novel. It’s brilliant, so put your feet high and enjoy!

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One Little Lie – on location.

Alongside the prison setting in One Little Lie,the town of Totnes, in Devon, remains a key location.Psychologist Connie Summers – who we first met in Bad Sister– has her counselling practice there. Although Connieis a central character, along with DI Lindsay Wade and DS Mack, this book is really Alice Mann’s story.

Alice is the mother of a murderer and she is struggling to come to terms with this and the impact her son’s actions have had on her and his victim’s family. She moved to Totnes to escape the past and rebuild her life, but she still feels massive guilt and so in an attempt to gain redemption she sets up asupport group for parents whose children have challenging behaviour or committed crimes. These monthly meetings take place ina church hall in the centre of Totnes. In addition to the support group, she seeks professional help from Connie, so a large part of the novel takes place in Totnes.

Totnes is a historical market town situated at the head of the estuary of the River Dart and has many beautiful features. It’s a place I love, and I visit regularly.

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The narrow streets lined with indie shops and boutiques, interior furnishers, art galleries and gift shops are quaint and offer a more unique shopping experience than the surrounding towns.

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The East Gate Arch is one of the most prominent and famous features of Totnes, it straddles the street and was originally the entrance to the old Elizabethan walled town. It was reconstructed after a devastating fire in 1990. Connie’s counselling practice is just beyond the arch, on the right going up the hill.

I really like having a few real locations in my novels, although it can be a bit restrictive. For those who also know Totnes well, they might notice I have played around a bit with the geography in parts – but hopefully not too much!

Dartmoor, specifically Haytor, doesn’t play a central role in One Little Lie as it has in my previous novels, but it does feature briefly. Andagain, for One Little Lie, I have used the fictional town of Coleton – which is situated a few miles from Totnes.The police station, where DI Wade and DS Mack are based, is located there, and it’s where Connie lives.

I think I will continue to set my novels in Devon, it’s a place I’ve lived all my life and there are so many beautiful locations that I could use. I’m sure it will continue to inspire my stories and be the perfect backdrop.

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Best Practice by Penny Parkes (Blog Tour + Guest Post)

Hi amigos! Today I am so very thrilled to welcome Penny Parkes to my blog! For all those of you who doesn’t know it yet, Penny is the author of the brilliant, heart – warming and gorgeous The Larkford Series and the third installment, Best Practice, was published on 28th July in paperback by Simon & Schuster. The lovely Penny has written a guest post for us about three books that shaped her writing life – put your feet high and enjoy!

 

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Three books that shaped my writing life – Penny Parkes

Ask me who my literary heroes are and, from a very (annoyingly) young age, I would talk about my favourite authors – the people behind the stories being just as fascinating to me, as the characters within them.

So, in truth, it’s not surprising that I was always one of those readers who would count down the days until the newest offering from these ‘destination authors’ arrived. Not for me something slender and literary – I would always prioritise chunky, tome-like books over clothes in my holiday suitcase – and the photographs from my eighties travels will testify to my precocious (albeit questionable) ‘skills’ with a capsule wardrobe. Chunky novels, though hefty, have always been my go-to pleasure – diving in for five hundred pages of well-crafted, relatable, escapist fiction.

I’m going to blame the marvellous M.M.Kaye for triggering this obsession – her novel The Far Pavilions found me at an impressionable age, when our local librarian had given up pointing me towards more suitable offerings, and allowed me to make the most of my family’s entire collection of library cards by weight, if not by virtue. (See also Ken Follett!) The thing that made this particular book stand out, was that it was like nothing I had ever experienced, in real life or in fiction – it was transporting and illuminating and a little bit terrifying at times. In short, I was hooked.

Penny Vincenzi picked up the reins of my chunky novel obsession shortly afterwards. How, I used to wonder, did she make me care about every single one of her characters, and to weave them so tightly and cleverly together, until I emerged blinking after a day or two, unsure of which reality I now inhabited. That, I decided, was a true art form and one I dreamed of emulating. Even writing this paragraph gives me a lump in my throat remembering reading the crash scene in The Best of Times with tears pouring down my face, and knowing that the wonderful, late, great, dearly missed Penny has written her last denouement.

I’ve always been a bit slutty with my reading habits – thrillers, domestic noir, young adult, romantic comedies, biographies, even if I’m honest, the multi-lingual back of the shampoo bottle – but there is a certain kind of book I return to time and time again. The kind of book that reels me in, makes me laugh, breaks my heart and makes me whole again and for that I can only cite Marian Keyes.

Rachel’s Holiday is, in my opinion, a modern classic – darkly funny, deeply touching and beautifully crafted. Without this book, my writing aspirations would be like driving the Cotswold lanes without a signpost.

Now, when I sit down to write, I have Katie Fforde’s wonderful quote for my first book pinned above my desk – ‘light and funny, but deep and meaningful at the same time’ – and I know exactly where that motivation came from and, that if I’m doing it right, then maybe one day somebody might run into the bookstore with their weekend plans on hold because my new book is hitting the shelves…

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Alone Time by Stephanie Rosenbloom (Blog Tour + Guest Post)

Alone Time by Stephanie Rosenbloom

 

33295222Publisher: Bantam Press

Publishing Date: 14th June 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 288

Genre: Travel, Non – Fiction, Memoir

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A wise, passionate account of the pleasures of travelling solo

In our increasingly frantic daily lives, many people are genuinely fearful of the prospect of solitude, but time alone can be both rich and restorative, especially when travelling. Through on-the-ground reporting and recounting the experiences of artists, writers, and innovators who cherished solitude, Stephanie Rosenbloom considers how being alone as a traveller–and even in one’s own city–is conducive to becoming acutely aware of the sensual details of the world–patterns, textures, colors, tastes, sounds–in ways that are difficult to do in the company of others.

Alone Time is divided into four parts, each set in a different city, in a different season, in a single year. The destinations–Paris, Istanbul, Florence, New York–are all pedestrian-friendly, allowing travelers to slow down and appreciate casual pleasures instead of hurtling through museums and posting photos to Instagram. Each section spotlights a different theme associated with the joys and benefits of time alone and how it can enable people to enrich their lives–facilitating creativity, learning, self-reliance, as well as the ability to experiment and change. Rosenbloom incorporates insights from psychologists and sociologists who have studied solitude and happiness, and explores such topics as dining alone, learning to savor, discovering interests and passions, and finding or creating silent spaces. Her engaging and elegant prose makes Alone Time as warmly intimate an account as the details of a trip shared by a beloved friend–and will have its many readers eager to set off on their own solo adventures.

Rating: four-stars

Stephanie Rosenbloom has done a thing that I’m dreaming about – she’s travelled alone to four different cities. I don’t actually have to travel around the world but being alone is high on my list of priorities. You know, I’m actually never alone, there is always someone around me, be it at work or at home, and a solitary minute is like a Utopia Island. I think I wouldn’t be afraid of travelling alone, I’d enjoy every single minute and use it in exactly the same way Stephanie Rosenbloom did. 

I usually don’t read books like “Alone Time”, which is a shame as I actually found this book informative and entertaining, interesting and refreshing. I absolutely admire how much research must have gone into the story, as it is full of facts and references – some of them I found amusing and interesting, and I’d do without the others but altogether it was something different and I truly learnt from this book. 

The author takes us on a journey through four cities – Paris, Istanbul, Florence and New York, during four seasons. There were incredibly vivid descriptions of food that made my mouth water, beautiful settings and descriptions of places and of course people the author has met during her travels. This all will give you solitude and courage to perhaps travel alone one day and enjoy your own company, to focus on things we usually take for granted instead of appreciating. It will show you that it is really worth to slow down and open your eyes and your tastes. And it will show you how great it is to make your own marks and memories. Full of tips and resources, it’s really worth reading, not only when you’re planning a solo excursion. It felt so relaxed, and it was also very well written . Stephanie Rosenbloom’s writing style is warm and inviting, insightful and it pulls you into the book. It is also full of depth but the author knows when to add a relaxed anecdote to make it even easier to follow and for us not to feel too overwhelmed with the facts.. I must also mention the gorgeous cover of this book – it’s simple but beautiful, and the blue colour is one of the most brilliant and friendly ones. It will be for sure standing out on the bookshelves.

Let’s stop in Florence for a moment – this stop was full of art. I loved the precise descriptions, the slow motion, the no – hurry, to see Florence through Stephanie Rosenbloom’s eyes like this. The one or two anecdotes or memories were an added bonus, of course, the secret place so worth mention. This destination was beautifully described, with so much heart and soul in every word, and the educational part was truly well balanced by humour and sharp observations.
Stephanie Rosenbloom has visited Florence in autumn and the descriptions of trees glowing yellow in the sunshine were so vivid, as well the descriptions of food and streets, and I really didn’t know there are streets like Death, Hell and The Way of the Discontented in Tuscany – but this book is so much more than a travel guide. Many great names are being mentioned in this chapter, just think about Michelangelo, Padre Pinocchio, The Birth of Venus, and I would really take someone’s arm off to see those things with my own eyes. There were brilliant, interesting facts mentioned that I would probably never hear about if I hadn’t read this book, and it was full of clever insights and observations. And now also check what 5 things you just have to see when in Florence:

 

Five Things Not to Miss in Florence Ex: Stephanie Rosenbloom

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–The Uffizi is a must, as is the Vasari Corridor, the hidden passageway lined with some of the world’s best-known self-portraits— that is if you can get in. Still, even if you can’t, the Uffizi is unrivaled for Renaissance masterworks, including its leading lady: Botticelli’s Venus.

–Never mind the Piazza Michelangelo. Cross the Oltrarno and climb the hills to the Basilica of San Miniato, where you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the old city and the Duomo. While you’re there, go behind the basilica to visit the beautiful old cemetery, where a mausoleum houses the remains of Carlo Collodi, the author of Pinocchio.

–In the evenings, the city is alive with music. But there’s no need for formalities. Take yourself to a small church for a casual concert, as special as any in a grand concert hall.

–After hours inside some of the world’s most ornate museums and churches, get outside and wander amid the sculptures, grottos, and fountains of the regal Boboli Gardens.

–Yes, everyone goes to see Michelangelo’s David— and with good reason. Don’t miss the Galleria dell’Accademia. It’s one thing to see photos of the David, but quite another experience (and a moving one at that), to stand beside it.

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The Scent of You by Maggie Alderson (Blog Tour)

Hi guys, hope you are all well. Today I am thrilled to have a wonderful guest post from Maggie Alderson for you. Maggie’s brand new novel “The Scent of You” is out tomorrow in paperback, published by Harper Collins, and this book has a) a brilliant, brilliant cover and b) a fantastic premise and I am dying to read it! In the meantime I have, as already above mentioned, a guest post from the author on “The Seven Mysteries of Writing a Novel” – out your feet high and enjoy!

 

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By Maggie Alderson

I can’t quite believe that The Scent of You is my tenth novel. And what I find particularly bewildering is that although I’ve done it so many times, I still make the same mistakes. Every time.

 I charge into a new book in a frenzy, never planning anything, never doing a time line, a map of where everyone lives, or a list of the relative ages in families, until I’m about 30,000 words in.

 That was interesting when the family in question was a modern jigsaw of numerous half and step siblings in Cents and Sensibility (my fourth one). I realised half way through writing the first draft, when I did finally do a timeline, that I was going to have to make my heroine ten years younger than I’d wanted her to be. Oops.

 So as I am about to start my eleventh book, I thought this was a good moment to ponder over what I’ve learned over all the years of writing in the hope it might help stop me making the same mistakes again – and hopefully give some insights to anyone else who might be thinking of embarking on their own fiction adventure.

 

  • Starting it

I remember very clearly when the first of my contemporaries wrote a novel – and got a publisher. I was in awe, dreaming of writing a book myself one day, but too scared to start in case I found I couldn’t do it.

‘How long did it take you to write it?’ I asked him.

‘Six months,’ he replied. ‘And thirty two years…’

That remark returns to me every time I’m writing a book and I’ve allowed myself to get hoity toity about how clever I am making all this stuff up….

Because one day I will have a blinding flash of revelation when I understand exactly what things in my own life have fed into what I’m writing. Even if it’s about rich beautiful people living lives I can only dream, the seed of it comes directly from things I have experienced.

So really, you’re starting a novel every moment of your life. I think of it as adding stuff to the stock pot in my brain, which will later come out as something that seems completely different, but is really that bit of onion I chucked in earlier.

To keep this stock pot topped up, between books I try and have lots of new experiences – visiting new cities, exhibitions, books and any kind of random experience I can have. Once I’m writing a book, I don’t do anything except write the book, so I have to cram it in while I can in between.

 

  • Making it up

This was one of the hardest things for me to do when I started my first novel, Pants on Fire. I’d been making my living as a journalist for about fifteen years by then and sticking to the facts and the quotes was part of my DNA.

In the end I signed up for a Fiction Writing evening course at Sydney University (it was while I was living in Australia) and although I only went to three of them it freed me up to let go and make it up… It was so exhilarating when I first allowed myself to trust it, like jumping onto a flume ride.

 

  • Finding the characters

They seem to find me. When I start a book I know who my heroine is, she’s my starting point. I have an idea what she looks like and I know what she does – that gives me the milieu for the book. Apart from that, I have no idea who else is in it until they stroll onto the page.

I always remember when I was writing my second book Mad About the Boy (not be confused with the more recent Helen Fielding of the same title). The doorbell rang (in the book, not my doorbell) and I had no idea who was going to be behind it until my heroine opened the door.

It turned out to be Uncle Percy, who remains one of my very favourites of all my characters.

Another way I find them is by pulling pictures of people out of magazines and seeing which ones ‘speak’ to me – a technique I discovered after I stuck a picture of a hot guy on the wall over my desk just to gaze at and he walked into the book.

 

  • Staying seated

Sometimes it takes every bit of willpower I can summon to keep my bum stuck to my chair. Music helps me, tea helps me, biscuits help me – then carrot sticks, after I’ve put on half a stone – looking at my phone does not help me. I don’t have wifi on the laptop I write on and put my phone on the other side of the room.

Conversely, sometimes going out for a walk, or a look at the shops helps me stay seated later. I get the urge to flee out of my system by fleeing and then when I come back staying seated doesn’t seem so hard.

 

  • Finishing it

See point 4. It’s the only way. Stay seated, or at least stay in the room – some people write standing up, Hemingway did – and keep going.

 

  • Getting over writer’s block

There are always sticking points when writing a book, when it feels like someone has turned the tap off. That’s when I run to my books about writing.

The first one I reach for is Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. It’s a masterpiece. It was originally an article in Esquire (you can Google it), but I have a little hardback book of it which takes about 20 minutes to read. It always makes me roar with laughter and usually eager to get back to the fray.

Leonard’s first sentence is: ‘Never open a book with the weather.’

My all-time favourite is Stephen King’s On Writing (which David Walliams also cites as a great influence), which is a work of pure genius.

I have another one called Dear Writer, by Carmel Bird, which I find very useful for practical tips on the craft of writing – tense, point of view etc.

My other stalwart is David Lodge’s The Art of Fiction, which is so beautifully written and has a wonderfully varied collection of passages in it, one to illustrate each point.

The section from Catcher In the Rye to discuss skat dialogue entirely created the character of the outrageously dreadful – but actually very vulnerable – daughter Theo, in my book Shall We Dance?

 

  • Surviving editing

Or as I like to call it – re-eating your own vomit. That’s about how enjoyable I find that part of the process. It’s entirely my own fault. If I planned my books more carefully and didn’t write them at high speed as though I am trying to beat Jack Kerouac to the world record, editing wouldn’t be such a trial.

But while I always suffer great editing agonies, it’s always worth it for the feeling of utter elation that comes when I finish. And the book is always exponentially better for it.

I can’t wait to get started on the next one.

 

Love Among the Treetops by Catherine Ferguson / #BlogTour + Guest Post

Hi amigos, hope you’re doing great – it’s Friyay!  And Easter is coming! To put you in a right mood, and as it’s my turn on the Catherine Ferguson’s blog tour – we are celebrating the reelase of her new novel, “Love Among the Treetops” – I have a brilliant guest post from the lovely author herself. Put your feet high, pour yourself a glass of something bubbly and enjoy!

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Catherine Ferguson

 

 

Five Things I’ve Learned . . .

 

When you’re starting out on your writing journey, it’s very much a case of trying things out and seeing what works for you and what doesn’t. I’ve been writing for HarperCollins Avon for three years now, and during that time, I’ve learned a lot about the process of creating a book – and a lot about what works best for me:

           

I write all my notes in a notebook now.

I used to scribble ideas on scrap paper, but I found that as I’m not the most organised/tidy person in the world, when it came to finding the particular note I needed, it was frequently lost or buried in a pile of other ‘important notes to self’! So now, when I’m starting a new book, I buy a big notebook with a cheery/inspiring cover, and I make sure I write every idea in this book. That way, I can be sure I won’t lose anything vital.

 

First thing in the morning is my best time to be productive

I love early mornings, so maybe that’s why I seem to do my best work then. All I know is that if I have a looming deadline and need to be at my most productive, a sure fire way of making sure I get the required daily number of words under my belt is to make a cup of tea and write the first five hundred words as soon as I wake up (usually propped up against pillows in bed!) Achieving this before breakfast also gives me a huge psychological boost that can carry me on to even greater productivity that day.

 

A daily walk is essential

I’d suspected for a long time that taking a walk during the day did me good, but it’s only recently that I’ve realised it’s not only A Good Thing, it’s actually a no-brainer if I want to write well and think up great characters and plot twists! There’s something incredibly meditative about walking, and for me, it’s the best way to get the ideas flowing freely. So now I incorporate a walk into my writing day as an essential part of it.

 

I start with a basic idea and see where it takes me.

I tried, once, to plan out a book in detail before I started writing. I made a big wall chart and wrote down all the plot advances in little boxes. It looked very impressive. The trouble was, the end result bore very little resemblance to my carefully planned plot! So I’ve learned that the best way for me is to start with a skeleton of an idea, and then just start writing and see where the characters take me. Going with the flow works for me!

 

Most people write bad first drafts

I never realised that most first drafts are rubbish. I honestly thought it was just me. And at first, it used to really scare me, the jumbled mess that used to emerge. But I’ve learned to relax now about the rubbish first draft, because in every case (after a lot of editing) that jumbled mess has been transformed into a book I’m proud of. I used to waste so much time, labouring over my first draft, trying to get it right. I don’t any more!

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A House Full of Secrets by Zoë Miller / #BlogTour + Guest Post

Hi guys, and happy Friday! It’s almost weekend, yuppi! Today I am especially thrilled to welcome Zoë Miller to my blog – Zoë has been my guest in the past already and it is always a real pleasure to have her stopping by. Today, to celebrate the new release “A House Full of Secrets” – which, btw, sounds SO brilliant and I can’t wait to read it – I have a fantastic guest post about location for the story. Enjoy!

 

A HOUSE FULL OF SECRETS:  ON LOCATION

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I’d like to say a big thank you to Agi for hosting me on her wonderful blog, On My Bookshelf.  I’m delighted to be featured here today. This post on the blog tour is all about the magical location for A House Full of Secrets. I hope you enjoy it, Zoë x

In A House Full of Secrets, Vikki accepts an invitation from her good friend Niall to accompany him to his family weekend reunion in Lynes Glen, his childhood home in a remote part of Ireland.  The county of Mayo, where Lynes Glen is located, is part of the Wild Atlantic Way, one the world’s longest defined coastal touring route that encompasses the breath-taking wilderness of the west coast of Ireland.

I’m fortunate to have been there; I’ve strolled along golden, secluded beaches and breathed the invigorating air, feeling as though I was walking along the edge of the world. I’ve marvelled at the savage beauty of majestic mountains, the lush, swooping valleys, the heather-coated hills. It is a landscape dotted with stone bridges arching over crystal mountain streams, and narrow, solitary roads that twist and wind into infinity around the never-ending folds and curves in the landscape. Then when I was reading a magazine article about the magic of county Mayo, the wonder of it all came back to me, and even before I got to the part where the article saidthat wifi could be a problem in certain spots, the seeds of the story were planted in my heart.

Drop an estranged family who are forced to spend time together in the sheer remoteness of it all for a long weekend, together with little or no connectivity to the outside world, and you have all sorts of story possibilities.

The beautiful and remote location is a character in itself and supports the plot. It is a soulful landscape that helped to forge the character of Leo, the patriarch of the family, it brings him peace and inspiration, and it forms the backdrop to his love affair with the dazzling Gabrielle.

On a sunny Friday afternoon, Vikki flies from London into Knock airport, hoping the weekend with Niall will help move their friendship up to the next level. She’d always sensed something different about him, compared to her London mates, but as soon as they begin the drive to Lynes Glen, she realises that, growing up in this remote and beautiful place, Niall’s background is totally at odds with hers, and before she even reaches Lynes Glen andmeets Niall’s enigmatic sister, Lainey and his estranged brother Alex, she feels uneasy at the difference between them. It is a gulf that only widens as the weekend progresses and they spend time revisiting the haunts of Niall’s childhood against a stunning landscapesoaked in memories and teeming with secrets and shadows.

The brooding mountain summit that the house backs on to, the trail though the forest, the lough that’s out of bounds, barricaded with fallen tree trunks, old gates, encroaching nature,and a crumbling ‘Danger: Keep out’ sign,  all provide a sense of mystery and support a haunting atmosphere. It is an atmosphere in which the showing up of a ghost and a mysterious woman by the lough don’t seem inconceivable at all.

But when an Atlantic storm begins to rage, marooning the family in a world of their own, Vikki swiftly discovers that a Lynes Glen glazed in lemony-coloured sunshine is a very different proposition to a remote house battered with howling gale force winds, and surrounded by murky veils of cloud and rain, where strange incidents are taking place.

And that’s even before the family begin to realise that one of them is lying and someone is hell benton exacting revenge for past hurts…

© 2018 Zoë Miller

About the book:
 
Title: A House Full of Secrets by Zoë Miller
Published: February 1st 2018 by Hachette Ireland
Synopsis:
 All she sees is the perfect man – but what is he hiding?
An invitation to visit Niall’s childhood home is too good an opportunity for Vikki to pass up. This is the chance she’s been waiting for to get closer to her friend, and to meet the family he’s always been so cryptic about.
But when Vikki arrives at the beautiful but remote Lynes Glen on Ireland’s west coast, and finally meets Niall’s estranged brother Alex and his overbearing sister Lainey, she realises that this reunion will be far from heart-warming.
As Vikki fails to convince any of them that she saw a mysterious woman at the lake – off-limits since a tragic accident – strange and sinister incidents begin to happen at the Blake family home. What secrets are they keeping? And why exactly did Niall ask Vikki to join him for the weekend?

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The Intruder by P.S. Hogan – #BlogTour

Hi guys – today is the last day of January – did you also have the feeling that it is the longest month ever? Awfully long. It’s great that we have some great books to read at least.

And of of such great books is for sure “The Intruder” by P.S. Hogan. I am deep into the story and guys, really, it’s so creepy and so unputdownable, keep your eyes peeled for my review in the next days. Today I have a post about the inspiration for the book. I always worry that the inspiration – question is the most cliched one but I am also always incredibly curious what has driven the authors to write the stories. So here it is – enjoy!

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The Inspiration for THE INTRUDER

 

It’s hard to pin down the moment that William Heming sprang into being. You could say he coalesced rather than sprang, though there must have been a point in the thinking process when he started to seem knowable; a point where you might predict what he would do next. Like most fictional characters, Heming is a product as much of accident as design, knocked and pulled together by other elements of a book in its endless early making and unmaking – its still-shaky structure, unsettled foundations, and other unformed characters all bumping about trying to get noticed.

One of the illusions of having completed your book is to persuade yourself that the characters you created were there all along; that you just had to make them talk and maybe kill or have sex with one another. The truth is that for much of the time you’re closing your eyes and ears and hoping for the best. Unless that’s just me. I won’t pretend that a lot of the process didn’t involve spiking the drinks of my friends, dragging them to a dark cell (or corner of a pub) and forcing them to help me out of some inescapable narrative hole I had dug for myself.

My wife once told me about a cousin or aunt or sister-in-law who’d had a ceramic artwork stolen from her house. The house had been up for sale and the culprit, it turned out much later, was a man showing buyers around the place on behalf of the estate agent. It turned out too (perhaps he had appeared in court – I don’t know) that the man was a retired policeman. Apparently, it is not uncommon for agents to retain trusted, personable individuals to open up properties on an ad hoc basis.

Our man seemed interesting. The ceramic artwork had not been worth much – but then perhaps nothing he had stolen was worth much (I assumed the thieving had become a habit). I started to wonder what deep-lying psychological impulse was behind his behaviour. Maybe he had been drummed out of the force unfairly and wanted some sort of twisted revenge – certainly that was a way into a novel. Perhaps he had it in his mind to commit crimes, and then – yes! – solve them, to the astonishment of his slow-witted former colleagues, perhaps with the finger of blame left pointing at some real corrupt officer of the law. I really didn’t want to write about a policeman, though.

I wanted to write about someone ordinary, or rather someone who looked ordinary but wasn’t. And, given that, wouldn’t it be simpler, I thought, just to make a thief out of an estate agent himself – a person who had access to other people’s houses all the time? Thievery was not enough though. Other acts of mischief came to mind. I dwelt for some time on that notion of revenge – or, more attractive, that spirit of the citizen vigilante whereby one man might utterly destroy another man’s morale and life as punishment for crimes against good manners. (Some of that spirit remains, of course.)

For a long time, too, I envisaged Heming as a conventionally weird villain, but this unhelpfully kept suggesting a focus on the detective trying to track him down – the dogged pursuer finally kicking down the door of Heming’s secret lair to reveal his gleaming, obsessive secrets. Eventually I realized the boot was on the wrong foot. It was Heming who needed to tell the story. It was he who needed to do the revealing. And the questions would be more fundamental. What was his story? Where had he come from? What was his problem? And – what consistency could I bring to his character as a result of finding out these things?

Anyway, that was the beginning. That’s when Heming moved in, hollowing out a space in my head – the dusty attic of my idling thoughts – creating doubt and havoc, fiddling with the lights, making a nonsense of my great ideas when I was asleep or making me forget things at the supermarket. That was him as he turned out: insidious, discreet– and so quiet, of course, you wouldn’t have known he was there at all.

 P. S. Hogan

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