Getting certain characters together in fiction without any hint of contrivance is a challenge for any writer. In Sonata of the Dead, my WIP, I’ve got my lead character, a PI named Joel Sorrell, who needs to link up with another character, a woman with whom he will develop a strong working relationship (and maybe more besides). I don’t want them to meet during some arranged get-together because there are many such incidents where Joel has to talk to a number of different people in a formal setting. I want this one to feel random. But what is good random, and what is bad random? I suppose the bad random is cliché. So out goes the collision in a corridor (especially if she’s carrying a mountain of papers), or the mild flirtation in a lift, or an argument over the last taxi in the rank.
I suppose to a certain degree all genre fiction is contrived (perhaps crime fiction above all) which is where suspension of disbelief in readers becomes important, but writers can smooth the path to some extent by clearing out the obvious moments of coincidence, and any laboured or far-fetched sequences. A scene that is hard to swallow will yank the reader out of the well-oiled, absorbing story you’re striving to create.
Getting characters away from each other is equally important, especially if you’re writing a horror novel, but again, you have to manage it credibly… Okay guys, there’s an axe-wielding psychopath out there somewhere… let’s split up!
I have a July deadline. But due to various commitments, my writing time has been cut to two days a week. Luxury, I hear you cry, and you’re right. I’m not complaining. I’m not moaning. But it means I’m having to be a bit more proactive in terms of what I get done and when.
The first two days of each week I spend in an office on the Oldham Road working on a Secret Project™. Initially I enjoyed the reading time I was getting – 40 minutes there and back on the Metrolink tram – but since the start of the year, and that summer deadline sharpening its claws on the strop of my paranoia, I’ve used that time to write instead.
A subtle little Moleskine won’t cut it, however. Great for notes, not so great for full-on composition. So I’ve given in to my inner writing fetishist and now I take a leather document wallet around with me, filled with good quality paper and – why not, Goddammit? – a lovely fountain pen loaded with an exotically-coloured ink.
Once I bested the self-consciousness that came with scribbling away on an A4 pad in a packed tram carriage, I was fine. I’m averaging a good three-to-four pages a day. It’s worth the occasional funny look.
And if I mutter at the same time it means I get a seat all to myself…
Jay Eales, over at the British Fantasy Society, has this to say about Loss of Separation:
‘Williams blends together genres with astounding skill… some phenomenal scenes where nightmare and truth blur…’
You can read the full review here.
A good review of The Unblemished from The Eloquent Page…
“Few writers have the ability to genuinely unsettle me but Williams has succeeded here. Put it this way – up until last night it has been decades since I have had to take a break from reading a book because it was creeping me out. If you consider yourself a horror fan and haven’t read The Unblemished you need to remedy this situation immediately. Be warned though, once you read something you can’t unread it. This one will mess with your head.”
The full review is here.