I love to feature authors I’ve actually met so I’m thrilled to be part of the launch celebrations for Graham Smith’s latest novel Matching the Evidence. Graham is such a talented writer and an unassuming individual that it is a pleasure to host a guest piece from him today all about tormenting characters! Graham previously agreed to be interviewed for Linda’s Book Bag when I’d only just started blogging and you can read that interview here.
Matching the Evidence is the second in Graham’s Major Crimes Team series featuring DI Harry Evans, published by Caffeine Nights on 8th September 2016, and is available for purchase here.
Matching the Evidence
Carlisle United are playing Millwall and the Major Crimes Team are assigned to crowd control as punishment for their renegade ways. Typically, DI Harry Evans has other ideas and tries to thwart the local firm’s plans to teach Millwall’s notorious Bushwhackers an unforgettable lesson.
Meanwhile an undercover cop is travelling north with some of the Millwall contingent. His mission is to identify the ringleaders and gather evidence against them.
Three illegal immigrants have been transported to Carlisle and are about to meet their new employers.
Nothing is as it seems for Evans and his Major Crimes Team as they battle to avoid a bloodbath while also uncovering a far more heinous crime.
How Much Can They Take?
A Guest Post by Graham Smith
Tormenting and torturing characters is all in a day’s work for crime fiction authors such as myself.
We don’t stop at being horrible to our victims – although it’s usually where we start – we’ll be nasty to the bad guys and most unkind to any periphery characters who happen to be standing around innocently minding their own business.
Yet it is our heroes we often save our most dastardly and cruel ideas for. Let’s face it, crime fiction is rife with borderline alcoholic DIs with a trail of broken marriages, estranged families and a myriad of other issues which serve no purpose other than making their lives horrible. Or do they …?
I am a firm believer that the constant kickings we deliver to our characters is what makes them the driven, focussed character we all love so much.
Our heroes are under-dogs. They fight their fights using instinct and long-forgotten training. We put them up against supremely clever and twisted foes, give them pencil-pushing bosses more concerned with budgets than public safety and then as a final act of cruelty, we make their private life hell.
There’s an old writers saying that goes along the lines of “put your characters up a tree and then throw stones at them” which I believe in. Me being me, I have the tree growing atop an ancient Indian burial ground. And it’s on fire.
Above anything else, readers – I count myself as one and always will – want the characters they’re reading to be interesting. While the truth may be that real life detectives can disassociate themselves from the horrors at work and find a spouse or partner who can tolerate the shift work and the constant stream of broken promises due to “The Job”, the reality is that it doesn’t make for a terribly entertaining read.
We want our leads to be heroes, fighting against not just the workload and the incompetent bosses who don’t understand their obsession, but against their own feelings of despair. We want to see the self-sacrifice, the personal cost and the consequences being meted out.
As an author, I want my characters to be interesting to my readers but also to me too. I spent the best part of a year writing and editing each book. Then there are the blog tours (such as this one he says with his tongue firmly in his cheek) and publicity events where we talk about our stories and our characters. It’s a big commitment from us time-wise and if the characters aren’t interesting to us, there’s a very high likelihood the book won’t be interesting to anyone.
Think of all the characters you love so dearly and then think about their private lives. Here’s a few examples of well-loved characters taking a beating from authors. (Contains spoilers)
- Fleming’s James Bond married and had his wife die in his arms of gunshot wounds
- Peter James’s Roy Grace had a wife who just up and disappeared one morning
- Stuart MacBride’s Logan McRae has a girlfriend who spends several books in a coma
- Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne had a partner who miscarried his baby and a father with Alzheimers
- My own DI Harry Evans has … I’m not going to tell you this one. You’ll just have to read the books.
(Yes we will!)
About Graham Smith
Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.
An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009
He is the author of four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, all of which can be found here.
There is more from and about Graham with these other bloggers: