Life has a habit of throwing you curve balls. Just when you think you’ve got it all mapped out, suddenly it takes a sharp left turn and you find yourself running for your life — usually pursued by a bear.
I’ve always liked to think I’m reasonably adaptable, but actually I’ve realised that I’ve been increasingly clinging to things as a security blanket and I wonder if I’ve become too rigid, too set in my ways. When I write, I like to have certainty and structure. There’s a kind of freedom in it — knowing I can expand on an idea and let it run, but with the knowledge of the overall shape of the book still firm in my mind
The latest work-in-progress stems from an idea I had years ago. Something quite different from my current series, but that should nevertheless appeal to readers who like the qualities embodied by Charlie Fox.
The story is a supernatural thriller devoid of vampires or werewolves. It involves grief, rage, love, a breakaway sect of Buddhist ascetic monks, and a shape-shifting demonic entity. Other than that, you’ll have to wait until it’s done 🙂
The idea for this story has been hanging around in the back of my head for so long that I had a detailed outline, almost a scene-by-scene storyboard of how it was going to go. In fact, it probably had the most detailed outline of any book I’ve written to date, because it spent so long in the gestation period.
But when I actually came to sit down and put the first words on the page, it began to change. The roles of the main characters shifted, some were written out altogether, some changed gender and even sexual orientation. I tried to pare it back to the important elements of the story and write from the heart.
Of course, how well it all works when I’ve finished it is anyone’s guess.
But the more research I do, the more story elements seem to fit the facts as I uncover them, and the more the story seems ideally suited for its location, partly in London and partly in a remote region of Okayama Prefecture in the south of Japan.
And I’ve been asking myself, if I’m so caught up in this story, why haven’t I written it before?
We’re back to curve balls. In the past I’ve always been seen purely as a writer of crime thrillers. I’ve always thought of myself that way. It was my niche — my pigeonhole — and I was reluctant to venture outside it, as well as being advised not to do so.
OK, so there’s crime in this story. There’s murder, loyalty, betrayal, ties by blood, ties by tradition, ties by friendship, and a centuries-old killer with no memory or conscience.
For me, I feel that now I finally have the freedom, if I’m willing to take the risk, to swim outside the lanes. To free-dive and see how long I can hold my breath without drowning. To experience the fear and the rush of embarking on new territory. Scary, yes, but exciting too. And if I can get past that fear, the possibilities are suddenly endless.
So, ‘Rati, would you ever read outside your chosen genre if the premise sounded intriguing enough, or you liked the author’s voice enough to give it a whirl?
Or if you write in a particular genre, do you have ideas tucked away in a totally different genre?
This week’s Word of the Week is condign, an adjective meaning well-deserved or fitting, and usually used when referring to punishment. Also condignly (adv) and condignness (n). From the Latin condignus from con- intens, and dignus worthy.
And finally, for anyone interested there are still places available on the crime writing workshop I’m hosting at Derby Central Library on Saturday, May 19th — 10am–3:45pm — entitled ‘A Man Comes Into The Room With a Gun …’
Plus, of course, CrimeFest is rapidly approaching. So, I’ll be at the Bristol Marriott from May 24th–27th along with such luminaries as Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, Frederick Forsyth, Sue Grafton, PD James and Roslund & Hellström. See you in the bar!