“Could I be grittier? Could I be more realistic? Could I, in fact, turn nasty?”
Just a year ago, here I was, a lady of a certain age, sitting in front of the fire and spinning innocent yarns for cosy murder stories and adding a twist of humour to make the mixture more piquant. And then, I challenged myself. Could I be grittier? Could I be more realistic? Could I, in fact, turn nasty?
There was only one way to find out, so I started trawling the darker corners of my mind for graphic violence, with the idea that I would describe the murders in excruciating detail, whereas before I had only dealt with murders after the bodies had been discovered. If I put the violent bits in italics, then it would be possible to read a perfectly okay story between these short sections without getting nightmares, but in the italics, I wanted to create a million bad dreams.
I found some very dark and disturbing thoughts churning around in my head, and wrote in a sort of trance, trying not too hard to visualise what I was describing, for the main criterion for me when reading a book is not to encourage nightmares. And it all came pouring out, and at times I wondered if I was some kind of secret psychopath.
I also looked at the most distressing incidents in my own life, and turned to these to put pressure on my two female police protagonists. I knew how I’d coped with some ghastly situations. How would they?
Although this was a totally different proposition to thinking up what DS Carmichael would wear next or how Lady Amanda Golightly would next put down Inspector Moody, I found it wrote itself at about the same pace, and I flew by the seat of my pants, only having the barest outline of what was to happen next, and watching my screen with open mouth to see what was going on, almost without my consent..
All in all, it was quite cathartic and, as long as I didn’t think too much about the detail of the italicised sections, I was pleased with the result. My only chagrin was that I was not able to guide prospective readers to the fact that there was perfectly ungory story between the acts of graphic suffering. It might have helped a lot if I could have had the opportunity to point this out.
I discovered a different person lurking in the gloomier, more cobwebbed corners of my mind that I didn’t even know were there, and decided that I would visit that explicit and unpleasant place on a couple more occasions, to make sure that I’d got it out of my system.
“I discovered a different person lurking in the gloomier, more cobwebbed corners of my mind that I didn’t even know were there”
I hope that regular and new readers will give High-Wired a chance, as it doesn’t continue in the bloody vein in which it starts, and believe me that there is a story worth telling hidden between the nastier bits. Be assured that missing these bits out will not at all change the story: they are just a little graphic extra that can be disregarded.
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