THE names for characters have to be handled with real care, but the ones that I eventually create are composites
BEFORE ebooks, if you didn’t fancy the book you were reading, you could quietly bin it and nobody would know. But ebook sellers can tell which books you finish and which you give up on.
Surprisingly, Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning The Goldfinch was completed by only 44 per cent of British readers. The highest-rating categories for completion were romance and crime thrillers – the categories many feel embarrassed about admitting they prefer. Aren’t we supposed to say we can’t wait to get our hands on the Booker shortlist and anything else (so-called ‘airport fiction’) is a ‘guilty pleasure’?
Well, it was precisely about my own crime thrillers that I was recently asked to give a talk by the Benahavis Decorative and Fine Arts Society (BDFAS). The inspiration for them, the writing process, and how to avoid plotlines more complicated than the directions for assembling IKEA’s finest or dénouements as exciting as filling in income tax returns.
Both the event and subsequent book signing brilliantly organised by BDFAS were hugely enjoyable – lots of friendly people there – and contributed to a good cause since profits from the sale of my novels go to Costa del Sol charity Cudeca.
I’m often asked if much of me and my personal experience go into my books. To give a brief but balanced answer: ‘yes and no.’ Well, I did say brief! Yes, because, inevitably, those you meet do influence you. No, because the characters eventually created are composites.
The names for characters have to be handled with real care. Take names like Trump, Clinton or Cameron. Give any one to a quiet, self-effacing character and all the preconceptions predominate. And in your mind’s eye, all you’ll see is Trump/Clinton/Cameron as, in psychologists’ jargon, feelings of transference take over.
Which brings me on to that old chestnut: writer’s block. Here I’m reminded of (Raymond) Chandler’s Law: “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.” Good grief!
And, finally, what about the actual writing? Grammar and so on. Which reminds me. Once one of my readers graciously offered to proofread my manuscript and pinpoint any errors in punctuation, spelling and style. Of course i spel perffecttly and theres never no punktuation, erors! so her job was like, :- easy!
Nora Johnson’s thrillers ‘Landscape of Lies,’ ‘Retribution,’ ‘Soul Stealer,’ ‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.com) available from Amazon in paperback/eBook (€0.89;£0.79) and iBookstore. All profits to Cudeca charity.