January 23, 2020
A novel’s backstory can slow down the pace of the narrative. When I read a novel I like to get straight to the heart of the story so it immediately grasps my attention. Often a backstory is not required. It is useful as it helps authors understand what motivates the characters they create. But it may not be needed in the text for readers to understand the plot. Once a backstory has been written it is often deleted during the editing process but if it is needed to flesh out the characters for the reader then the author must decide at what point it should be inserted to have the best effect.
The backstory in my novel, “Magic Bullets”, kicks in at chapter five when the protagonist hears that the first serious love of his life had died and I decided to show what happened during their relationship rather than simply tell another story. I began the novel with a terrorist attack. The episode itself does not occur until three quarters of the way through the book as I wanted to grasp reader’s attention from the start.
I differentiated these out of sequence events from the linear narrative by changing the font to italics. Judging by the reviews most readers liked this approach. There were a few who did not care fore the book but I do not think that their opinions had much to do with the structure. They simply did not like the story. Still you cannot please every one.
Available through http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm
January 3, 2019
The bullet crashed through the plate glass window and into the customer’s forehead. It smashed through his skull and embedded itself in the wall behind him. People screamed as the plump middle-aged man was flung off his chair away from the table where he had been dining and the shooter stepped through the shattered opening into the restaurant.
He had not wanted to waste bullets by spraying rounds indiscriminately so he had set the Kalashnikov rifle he was holding to fire single shots. These were to be surgical killings and he wanted to shoot dead all who crossed his path. His feet crunched on the broken glass as he trod carefully forward and shot a woman, sheltering beneath the table in the back of the neck. A man who looked like a waiter made a dash for two double doors and he shot him in the back before he could reach them. Some people ran, but those who were not quick enough or those who cowered on the floor he shot one by one. Dark blood flowed with food, drink and broken crockery among the unturned chairs.
November 30, 2018
Just as every book needs a good hero, the same book needs an even better villain. Good heroes linger in the memory long after the story has finished, but what makes them memorable are the actions of the villain and I give and example of those encountered by one hero below.
James Bond is probably the best known thriller hero but what makes him so good is his confrontation with a really nasty villain and he comes up against some very unpleasant ones. Most come across as deluded madmen who seek to dominate or destroy all that is good in the world. But my favourite is one of the most unexpected, an evil woman called Rosa Klebb, who appears in the novel and later movie “From Russia With Love, and trys to kill Bond with a poisoned blade in the toe of her shoe.
I try to portray the villains in my books in the same vein. In the novel “Magic Bullets”, a few characters appear to the hero as people who have harmed him or hindered his progress in some way but turn out to be “good guys”. The real villain starts out as being entirely opposite but towards the end of the novel turns out to be entirely despicable. In this way I hope the various twists in the story serve to keep the reader on his or her toes.
November 16, 2018
I find writing crime fiction easy but the editing process is hard as I am slightly dyslexic. I am also lazy which is why my stories take a long time to write. I began my newly released novel, Magic Bullets, a ridiculously long time ago in the 1970s.
My first draft is always bad and contains all kinds of spelling, grammar and continuity errors because I am a story teller and not a literary writer. I write ideas down as they come into my head while I sit at a computer. I do think about the story as I go about my daily life, planning plot lines and sometimes endings. But the story really evolves into something I feel worthwhile publishing during the editing. The advantage of this style is that I do not recall getting writer’s block. I subscribe to the Raymond Chandler view, “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand”. I don’t take this literary but I do like to throw in something to put my protagonist reader, and occasionally even myself off guard.
I self publish and therefore have to be extra vigilant with my editing. Online and offline spelling and grammar checkers are invaluable. Oh, if only I had these when I grew up in the years BC (Before Computers) when dyslexia was unheard of. But even these tools are not good enough. I get computer text-to-voice software to read my writing back to me and at least three people, whose views I respect, to read through what I consider to be my final draft. In reality it never is. Even after all these checks a few mistakes creep through. But the beauty of self-publishing and publishing-on-demand means that I do not produce more than ten or twenty copies at a time. This means that by the time my work gets to the reader the mistakes are gone and, who knows, some of the early error filled copies may eventually be worth a lot of money as collectors’ items.
October 13, 2018
Absent-mindedly, he stuffed his right hand in his jacket pocket and felt the jar. He drew it out, looked through the glass at the white lumps of organic matter inside and said aloud to himself, “Magic I don’t think so.” He tossed it in the metal waste bin then, as the clanging sound his action had caused resonated around the room, he had another thought and looked in the bin. The jar was still intact. He retrieved it, put it down on the laboratory bench, discarded his jacket and put on his labcoat. What followed next led to the discovery of Floracillin.
September 12, 2018
There have been many celebrated scientists in fiction. A disproportionate number of these have been depicted as mad, working on outlandish experiments to change the world and often nearly destroying it in the process. They usually end up destroying themselves. I often wonder if it is because of these fictional caricatures that people regard scientists and the science they produce with suspicion. However, the real reason is almost certainly because of their inability to communicate properly with the public.
I have spent most of my working life as a biological scientist while writing fiction in my spare time. Up until a few years ago I have been reluctant to publish any fictional science. I know how much effort goes into researching real science and getting it to work. Fictionalising it, by making it up goes against the grain. But what in the past has been regarded simply as science fiction is often now becoming science fact and so this form of fiction is now a real force in driving fact.
My novel Magic Bullets at http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm
August 29, 2018
Conveying music in fiction is hard to do. I have read novels where an author has written an original song and printed the lyrics on the page. A good example of this can be found in the works of Tolkien where his penned “folk” songs are sung by his heroic characters. But when reading these stories I find it hard to visualise these songs without a tune to put them to. This is of course where film and audio adaptations have the advantage over the written word where the producer is able to hire musicians to write a fitting melody. I suppose the author could add a short piece of sheet music to fit the lyrics but the musically illiterate such as myself and even those among my readers might find this a distraction.
Instead, I have merely opted to describe the sound without going deeply into its substance. In my first novel, Cogrill’s Mill, I have simply suggested that my fictional characters were listening to local folk music or when they were listening to contemporary country music I chose a well known song, namely Dolly Parton’s Jolene. My latest novel features a young female singer who becomes a star and I applied the same technique here. In this way I hope to show my readers that her singing and the sound of her voice are essential ingredients to the plot.
Copyright: Dmitriy Cherevko / 123RF Stock Photo
Magic Bullets can be found at http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm
August 21, 2018
There are numerous references to bullets in literature. Silver bullets have been used by the fictional masked western hero, The Lone Ranger, to shoot his armed adversaries without harming them, and by others to kill supernatural werewolves. Other examples can be found in detective novels where forensic ballistic reports often lead to the undoing of many a criminal mastermind.
The German Scientist and physician, Paul Ehrlich, coined the concept of a magic bullet to describe the perfect drug that could selectively target a disease-causing organism without harming the patient. I worked as a professional microbiologist for forty years and had experience of working with different bacteria and antibiotics so I thought it might be an idea to write a story about a scientist who discovered a fictional drug and the effect this had on his life.
Despite the endeavours of scientists such as Ehrlich, drugs are not perfect medicines. I cannot think of one that does not have harmful side effects. Given the fact that some have hallucinatory properties and are addictive, I decided to throw that into the mix as well. There are a lot of references to bullets in literature so as the narrative progressed I thought it might be an idea to link the story with bullets that came from guns and are specifically designed to kill. Whether I succeeded enough in creating an entertaining read is up to the reader to decide.
My novel Magic Bullets can be found at http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm
July 6, 2018
Summer is here and there is no better time to spend the day outside reading on lazy sunny days. It will soon be the holiday season in the northern hemisphere so choose some books to take with you to while away idle relaxing moments.
It is a good time for authors and publishers to release books so that bookstores at airports, train stations and holiday resorts can stock up to help travellers make those last minute purchases. Peatmore Press is no exception and has launched its fourth novel which is the first I have released under my own name. It is a crime thriller and I am told by those who have had a chance to turn the pages that it is a good read. But see for yourself and let me know how you feel about it.
Published on 2 July 2018
and can be bought by following the links at