Thursday 15 October 2015

Best Seat In The House

People ask why fictional detectives are so often dysfunctional figures. Why can't we have nice, well-adjusted detectives, with happy families and settled lives?
And the answer? Because that would be… ordinary. And if something is too ordinary, it becomes boring. The strength of crime fiction is that it allows us to escape the mundane and go to extremes, seeing people at their worst and their best. So it shouldn't surprise us that fictional detectives are often broken, or haunted, or crippled by a tragic past… anything to make them more interesting.
But I like to go further.
Why should we spend all our time with the detective when we can spend some quality time with the villain? After all, "police procedural" stories have been done so well, and so often… why not focus more on a wildcard character? Why not focus on the murderer?
As soon as we take the killer's viewpoint, everything changes. The normal rules no longer apply – anything can happen when your character isn't bound by the law, or by rational thinking.
Anything can happen.
I like that as a starting point for a story.
But of course, writing from the villain's perspective has its own challenges. Most of us (I hope!) would find it difficult to empathise with a mindless thug or a sadistic monster; if the killer is entirely evil, we're unlikely to have anything in common with them. And without some common ground, it's difficult to empathise.
Perhaps that's why I prefer more complex characters – characters that you can't immediately gauge, who surprise you, who make you feel things you might not expect to feel. I want you to like my villains (well, some of them, some of the time) because that allows you to get closer to them. I want to let you get right inside their heads… because that’s the best seat in the house.
Yes, it’s dramatic when we read about a character doing something shocking. But I believe our experience is much more intense when we understand, when we’re so close to the action that we can see the world through the killer’s eyes.

So if you find yourself liking a villain, or feeling sympathy towards them, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, that’s the author’s intention. Because sometimes, that’s just where you need to be, to best experience the story.

Eye Contact for 99p

I was beginning to think it would never happen, but my first novel EYE CONTACT has finally had a price reduction. Part of the Amazon's Autumn Kindle Sale, the ebook is currently just 99p - a huge saving on the normal price.
And, because Kobo and iBooks seem to track and match Amazon discounts, it's just 99p on those formats too!
So if you haven't read the first book in the Harland series, this is your chance. Just click the link below...