Today I have author Bill Kirton on the blog to tell us about his writing and where he gets his ideas from. Enjoy!
To answer that frequently put question ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ I always have to think hard. Sometimes, if I have to read something from one of my books – when I’m giving a talk or doing a workshop, for example – it’s a question I ask myself. Because completed books are always that – complete. Things fit together, there are progressions, solutions, and it all seems … well, complete. And it’s much more than just one idea. I’ve written eight novels so far and there’s no real pattern which links them.
The idea for the first, ‘Material Evidence’, came from reading a book on forensic medicine. One of the cases described was very striking so I borrowed it but, by the time the characters had their say, the details of the killing had changed completely. The second, ‘Rough Justice’, was sparked in a meeting with a very unpleasant individual for whose company I had to write a promotional DVD. He was so typical of a particular type of male that I wanted to punish him. So I did.
But that little revenge was nothing compared to the revenge I got on behalf of someone else in the next book, ‘The Darkness’. I went to a restaurant with my wife and some friends and noticed that the waiter had a west country accent. I said ‘you’re a long way from home’ and he told me the reason why. His wife and two wee girls had been killed by a drunk driver who’d been sentenced to just two years in prison but been released after eighteen months. ‘That’s six months for each life’ as the waiter put it. I felt so sorry for him and the feeling stayed with me for years so eventually I started writing ‘The Darkness’ to get rid of it. It obviously came from somewhere deep inside me because in the course of the story my policeman started changing and he was different in the two books that followed.
The germ of the next, ‘Shadow Selves’, was also with me for years. An anaesthetist friend said that, if ever I wanted to include an operation in a book, he could arrange for me to see one close up. I jumped at the chance, was worried that I’d faint, but went anyway and was fascinated by it. But I didn’t use it until years later.
‘Unsafe Acts’ and ‘The Figurehead’ both came from suggestions by another friend. He suggested that, with North Sea oil platforms being decommissioned, they were ripe for sabotage and made a great setting anyway – and he was right. And, on another occasion, out of the blue, he said ‘You should write about a figurehead carver’. I went to carving classes, sailed as a paying crew member on the beautiful Christian Radich, and enjoyed recreating Aberdeen in 1840. Even then, though, there was a twist because, although all my books are basically crime novels, the central female character in this one took over and made it into a romance as well.
‘The Sparrow Conundrum’ is a mystery. It’s the first novel I ever wrote and I’ve rewritten it many times since but I’ve no idea what made me start it. Up to then I’d written plays but one day, I just started writing the story and the characters were so extreme and absurd that I just let them get on with it. They must have done something right because last year it won the Forward National Literature Award for Humor.
Finally, ‘Alternative Dimension’ is a novella I just had to write after spending some time playing the game Second Life™. People were so willing to shed inhibitions and open up to total strangers that there were umpteen stories to be told about it. I wrote it under the name of my avatar, Jack Lefebre.