The First Go


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Hi there!

Welcome to my new blog. A bit bare at the moment but I’ll get the hang of it.

Not really sure how to start. I guess I should say something about where I am at the moment with my writing.

I’ve been working on a final edit of my latest novel ‘Dying for a Life’ for the past few weeks and, to say the least, it’s not going well. More about that at the end. It was a long time in the making, well over a year, and is something of a departure from what I’m used to. I usually write romantic thrillers or even comedy thrillers. I also have a series of crime thrillers featuring my favourite protagonist, Detective Inspector Frank Vine. This last one is a straight thriller. No comedy, no romance and a lot of swearing. The novel concerns two groups of people who are the victims of human trafficking. The first group are a bunch of men on a work gang in Southern Spain.

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They are treated very badly, hardly ever fed, beaten daily and receive no pay. They are trapped by their own circumstances and no longer hold passports or identification. They are kept in check by the constant threat of extreme violence. Violence that they witness being dealt out to other victims. The gang consists of two Spanish men, two Portuguese and three English. It is the three Englishmen (a Scot, Donald; a Geordie, Pete; and a midlander, Eric – though there are no jokes on that account) that are followed as they become isolated from the others and, after a brutal attack on Pete that leaves him in desperate nee of medical assistance, they make their bid to escape.

The second group are a bunch of girls from England who have been told there is glamorous work available for them in Europe’s nightclubs. They have been whisked away in a transit van and taken to Paris. Most of the girls are between nineteen and twenty two but the one that we follow initially is Rosie, a fifteen year old who has escaped the misery of caring for her mum back in Brighton. The girls are not destined for fancy nightclubs but for the sex workers that exist on Rue Saint Martin.

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All six girls are marched through the streets at night and delivered to the slimy Pierre who
locks them in his club. There they meet the barely believable Helga. A mountainous woman dressed in high heels, basque and heavy, heavy make-up. Three of their number are whisked away to the mysterious ‘Raymond’s’ while the three remaining, Rosie, Tracey and Jade, are kept by the sadistic Pierre for his own sick pleasure.
The biggest problem I’ve had is in drawing these two threads together. They are linked by situation and by actual characters by the end but I feel that the two stories are just a little too separate as the novel progresses. It is this link that I have been struggling to make throughout the course of the re-write. It has, inevitably, messed with the structure of the novel and I have to hope that the disruption pays off with the overall effect it has on the experience. The problem arose through making massive changes in the plot. These changes were undoubtedly needed but created their own problems. The original story was a Frank Vine detective story and the two groups (plus a third) were bit players. The ‘bad guy’ was also connected to the third group, thus drawing all three threads together from the start.

The first thing to go was the detective element. Mainly because it would have been a thousand page novel. Then, the third group, two girls on holiday in Thailand, didn’t grab the attention the way the other two groups did, so off they went. At one point I’d cut over seventy thousand words from the novel. That’s a novel in itself. The two remaining groups are entertaining and interesting enough to carry the story but that was the problem; what was the story? I’d effectively given it a spinalectomy, something that is recommended only to create middle managers.

So, I am where I am. ‘That that is, is.’ To quote the great man. I can’t face another re-write at the moment so I’m concentrating on a new idea about a homeless guy from Sheffield. I haven’t given up on Dying for a Life. I think it shows great potential. But it’s going to need a serious amount of work to link those two strands together. I’ll let my subconscious sort that out itself while I get on with the rest of the summer.

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