A lot has happened since May, and what follows is a resume of those two months.
The latest CSI Eddie Collins novel, provisionally entitled The Death of Jessica Ripley continues to gather dust on the shelf here in the Writing Pad. I began it in March and blitzed through the first 25k words feeling excited and looking forward to seeing how Eddie handles his latest crisis. I can’t wait to get back on with it because it has the potential to be the best Eddie book I’ve written to date.
So why have I stopped writing it?
On the 19th May, I wrote this:
Bex stood on the back step looking at the door. It was open.
She never left it open. Billy never left it open either. The only time this door was unlocked was when they were going through it.
I wrote that and the subsequent fifty thousand words (to date) because I had begun negotiations with a publishing company called Bloodhound Books. They’d seen and liked the Eddie Collins books and wondered if I could create something entirely new, a standalone, just for them. Because I love a challenge, Dancing at the Devil’s Door (provisional title) was born.
It is far removed from my usual work. I had lost my lead man and his cast of supporting characters – I felt alone for the first time since Eddie came into my life around 2004. Thirteen years is a long time, and Eddie and I have grown to know each other pretty well, so being without him now is like setting off on an adventure without your best friend accompanying you.
Instead I’m travelling with a woman, Becky Rose (note the name change). I thought writing her would feel forced, but I needn’t have worried because writing a female a lead, this female lead, feels comfortable. Becky took some getting used to though, like meeting and working with a new person does in real life – for me anyway.
As I mentioned, there’s no sign of Eddie Collins anywhere in Devil’s Door (he’s furious!), in fact there’s no CSI involvement at all in this book; they don’t even warrant a mention. The police are featured in the book, of course – it’s a crime thriller, but not in any great depth, more on a personal level than a professional one. No, this book focuses entirely on its protagonist, Becky. And despite the early sample above, it’s now in first person.
For those of you who’ve read the Eddie Collins short stories, you’ll know I like to play with first person writing, but had always been afraid I couldn’t sustain it for an entire novel. Think about it; the writer cannot stray from inside that person’s head. He can only describe what she sees, hears, feels, and experiences; there’s no hopping over to a secondary story line to see what’s going on there either. It’s intense, it’s almost claustrophobic, and it’s extremely personal.
Bloodhound offered a contract based on the first two chapters (still in first draft!) and a hastily prepared synopsis of the rest of the book. Even the synopsis has a story: I didn’t have one – a synopsis, I mean. I usually write my books on the fly with no idea where they’re heading. I’ll stop half way through and try to make sense of what’s happening and where the story should logically go, but I didn’t have that luxury with Devil’s Door. So I had to think a long way ahead and consider how it might pan out. And having a scene list to follow has been a good thing for me; it’s allowed me to crack on with the writing rather than pause and consider too much.
I’m still buzzing about the chance of working with the people at Bloodhound – they have a splendid reputation. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’ll keep you posted (hopefully a little more promptly next time). Whatever happens, I’ll be back on Jessica Ripley very soon.