From bullets to bang. How did I start writing my latest work in progress? Or Crime writing generally? No, not bullets to bang. Rather, I felt the soil under my fingernails as I dug up the antique pistol in the garden, and held it limply by my side with no one to shoot.
Felt? Limply? Damn filter words and adverbs…
I wouldn’t know what gunpowder’s made of. So why do I like to read and write about the fierce breed? Well, I’ve encountered that type. No beast so fierce. Always preferred the company of choreographers to assassins, but have had many conversations indeed I’ve shared episodes of my life with both. I’m lousy on the dance floor, and couldn’t shoot the side of a barn with a blunderbuss. So I write. When I blog I tell stories—true stories—from the darker chapters of my life. Read them as warnings, fairy tales, anecdotes—you decide.
Viscount C.B. Hastings IV is the subject of my three book series. He’s in his forties, decadent…determined…deadly… His partner is crime is also his adopted daughter, the eighteen year old Chinese girl, Miss Sedona Li. She’s. . . Well, she’s everything he is not. They share a sweet and rather innocent bond. His old-world erudition is complemented by her modern street smarts as they bring out the best and worst in each other.
Book 1 in the series is a called Night of the Infidel “A thousand civilians will be slaughtered if an aristocratic former assassin can’t re-awaken his criminal wiles and bring down a powerful young extremist.” Set in Australia.
Book 2 is Execution of the Beloved “When a fallen assassin attempts to resurrect himself by avenging the murder of a friend, he lands on the trail of a mysterious treasure hunter.” Set in Cambodia.
Book 3 is The Suicide Race “A terminally ill assassin sets out on a final mission, not knowing his adopted Chinese daughter is launching a mission of her own—to stop him assassinating the mayor’s 13-year-old son.” Set in England.
I hate log lines. Summing it all up in less than 30 words. They’re fun to construct, but rarely completely accurate. Blurbs are better. Books 1 and 2 I’m moving towards serializing in a magazine. Book 3 is the best of the bunch and it’s currently being edited by the wonderful Ashley Schwartz.
The Hastings chronicles began in 2008. Christ, that’s a decade ago. I saw an English aristocrat arguing with a religious extremist on a YouTube video. The total contrast in their characters, outlook, speech patterns –everything, it amazed me, and I got to work writing about them. My outline boiled down to a 3 paragraph blurb, which I shoved into a suitcase along with the hundreds of songs, poems, scripts, treatments, and a 220-page novel written about my Berlin days -all of which are strictly for my eyes only.
On a cold, wet Sunday early in 2015, I opened the suitcase, pulled out the blurb and got to work.
Legislation, firearms, government counter-terrorism policy, airport security, prostitution, extremism, bare-knuckle-boxing, GHB and Methamphetamine -at the end of week one my head spun. I love research. My Masters Degree is Research (Educational Management), and that doesn’t hurt when it comes to methodology and analysis. Melbourne University. Aaah Melbourne Uni. Uncle Monty loved Oxford. I love Melbourne Uni.
But writing the prose? 430am to 730am every day except Sunday (need a lie in, and it becomes a Reading Day) although Sundays can become nothing days if I’ve been out the evening before. Then off to teach writing all day. Evenings I read and do research. 415am I’m up, drinking earl grey tea and going at it again. If you’re not obsessed, this line of work is not for you.
In New York at Thrillerfest last year, I pitched Night of the Infidel to a host of agents –am communicating with some of them now, so it was a very worthwhile excursion. I don’t bother with Query Letters. Better to get in there, face to face. That’s not entirely true, I do send out Query Letters from time to time. At ThrillerFest I did a Masterclass with the great Steven James. Loved it.
Now, I can feel that impulse rumbling in my belly. It’s not the prawn cocktails I had for lunch. I need to knock out a few more reflections on my tumultuous voyage through the human jungle. Lotsa real people and actual events, but flashed up with a bit of saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal. That’s gunpowder.