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5 Questions for Authors: Christopher Long

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First out of the starters gate to answer my 5 questions for authors  is a fellow writer from the KGHH stable: Mr Christopher Long. He writes horror, which if I’m honest is not my most favourite of genres – unless it’s by Hitchcock (ie more suspense than horror). But I have to say Chris is a good writer: a very good writer. His novel Something Needs Bleeding scared the living daylights out of me! However, enough of me…

  1. What is your favourite book from childhood?james-and-the-giant-peach-cover

My favourite book from childhood has to be James and the Giant Peach. There are some which made me laugh more or scared the living hell out of me, but James and the Giant Peach was the one that opened the door for the rest of them to get into my head. It tuned my brain into finding stories that interested me and devouring them as quickly as I could. It also got me into thinking about how I would tell a story myself. It still feels like a story that wasn’t trying to teach me right from wrong or lecture me about the mistakes kids make in adult society. It wasn’t too old fashioned either. It felt contemporary, accessible and, better than that, it felt wondrously so close to being possible. It was sheer delight as a kid and it’s still a brilliant story now.

      2. What is the first book that made you cry?

The book that first made me cry? That’s a pretty tough one. Very few books get to me that way. Which isn’t me trying to sound manly. I gave up on that a long time ago, back when people expected me to do woodwork at school.

A book can move me, but rarely pushes me over that emotional edge. Movies can do it. I think it’s something with the music and images. If they get under my skin, then I can’t separate myself from them. When I’m reading, my brain seems better at distracting me from the emotion. I know it sounds a little closed off, but I think it’s something to do with how I distance from myself feeling uncomfortable a lot of the time. One advantage is that the distance has taught me a few tricks when it comes to trying to keep my own readers from being able to disconnect. Pacing and imagery can, hopefully, keep them turning pages. That’s the plan, anyway.

billhicksscreamThat said, I do remember the first time I read the Bill Hicks biography, American Scream. I had watched all of Hicks’ stand-up videos by then and owned most of his albums as well. He was a hero of mine and I had always known he died young, but reading the chapter where he was told he had cancer just totally floored me. It put me in the room with him. I imagined seeing him hearing the news, absorbing it, trying to fit the diagnosis into his own understanding of his life. It still gets me now.

3. Have you ever read an author whose books you didn’t like, and how has this impacted on your writing?

I was talked into reading The Da Vinci Code by someone I worked with. I really hadn’t been that interested in it, but they loved it. I couldn’t get into it at all but, one night, there was work being done to the train line next to our house for about six hours and there was just no way I was going to sleep. So, I sat up by the glare of the workers’ floodlights and read the whole thing in one sitting.

It was an interesting experience. I found myself only half engaged by the story at best and spent a lot of the novel trying to peer behind the curtain. You could see the influences to the pace and plot and you could see the research Dan Brown had carefully stitched into place. I started trying to work out how I would maybe attempt it myself.

Now, when I’m writing something I’m not entirely invested in or connected with, I will stop and look back over it. I’ll try and look for plot holes, for the ideas I’ve tried too hard to cram in where they don’t fit. It seems to work pretty well.

4. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

All my ghost stories do have linking motifs running through them. There are recurring characters, companies and villages that crop up across them. When I first tied a couple of them together, back when I was self-publishing, I felt so smug about it. I waited for ages, hoping someone would notice. It never happened. I’m still wondering if, one day, someone might start to pick up on it. For the time being, I think I’m just doing it for myself. A way to keep myself hooked into an early draft, probably. It is fun.

5. What did you edit out of your latest book?

I recently edited a whole married couple of my second novel. I had a subplot involving a woman who was trying to be haunted by her dead lover. That then became a married couple, where the woman had a job that involved her being possessed and her husband being jealous of the experiences she was having. Their storyline was designed to weave through the main plot, but they were just getting in the way of what I wanted to say in the new draft.

Maybe one day I’ll give them a story all of their own. I did like working with The Dawsons.


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Six things you should know about writing a murder mystery

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Having moved into the realm of crime fiction, I thought I’d put down a few things that made plotting A Cowardice of Crows easier than it could have been. Because – to be honest – murder is harder to keep an eye on than time travel…

 

  1. Work backwards.  I.E know how it was done, who did it,  where and  why and then seed the rest of the story from there. I  wrote the reveal before the last few chapters, as I needed to work out exactly who did what to whom.
  2. Let the audience work it out for themselves/ or give them the opportunity to realise who the murderer has to be. Even if they don’t get it  at the same time as the detective, they should be able to go AHH not omfg. I tried to make one of my murderers obvious, and the other less so… hopefully it’s worked.
  3. Ensure you have clues – subtly worked into the story. These clues can be red herrings. In Crows the red herrings went in before the real clues.
  4. Ensure you have a flawed detective. They have to be very intelligent, very eccentric and the murderer has to underestimate them. Byrd’s flaw is … ahh now, that would be telling; let’s just say he’s got an eye for a pretty face.
  5. Every good detective needs a side kick. Solid reliable, dependable and all the things our hero is not. In Sampson Byrd has loyalty and in his cousin he has solidity. Both the perfect foils to Byrd’s whimsical nature.
  6. Oh and of course! Suspects! You’ve got to have suspectgillards-bloody-dagger1

 

Not met  Byrd yet? click here to go to amazon and see if I’ve taken my own advice

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This came up on Amazon today from one Holly J Sanderson.

I thought I’d put it on here for you to have a look 🙂

Latest 5* review from Amazon

Another exciting trip through history that had a couple of “huh???” Moments in their too, bonus points for local references that were bang up to date and easily recognisable (I’m 99.9% sure I recognised a couple of the present day character references too!!) A real page Turner that ended on a hell of a cliff hanger …..

A personal note to the wonderful author: you can’t leave it like that!!! We demand another!

Everyone else: get reading, it’s fabulous! (And watch out for flapjacks)

 

A 5* Review from a Southender

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5 star electrical courses


5.0 out of 5 stars A novel time-travel novel 5 May 2014
By Pete Sipple
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Originally purchased this as I’m a Southender curious to see how the pier could be linked to time travel. An engrossing read that got me researching events from the early 20th Century referred to in the book. Some nice subtle sci-fi and Southend references too. Looking forward to the next one!

Latest Review of End of the Pier Affair

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5 star electrical courses
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read – and a race through time… 16 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a great read and I found it hard to put the book down once I got a few pages in. I loved the historical detail as the main characters flew back and forth through time. I would enjoy a follow up book!
The latest review of the End of the Pier Affair is by historian G. Mawson, who has written a well received book on the Guernsey Evacuees. Do check her work out by clicking here