I once coined the expression ‘reality for some is fiction for others’ when discussing this topic with a friend. Why else do we respond to friends by saying “you’re joking” or “you’re making that up” when they tell us about something dramatic that happened to them?
I always want to create intrigue with my writing while engaging my readers with topical subjects, as well as aspects that are a part of everyday life and to which they can relate. Like many, I also enjoy wistful dreams as a form of escapism.
Having started writing my fifth manuscript, I have now covered topics that include the smuggling of drugs, weapons and people, the environment, different types of technology, politics, tax havens, terrorism, betrayal and vengeance. To balance these dark and sinister elements, there are potential romances, international travel, holidays, and even luxury boats to provide dreamy, special experiences throughout.
How I get my ideas
Tension and intrigue are key components of any good crime thriller.
I like to question what I hear, read and watch, as well as my own thoughts. Through this process, I recognised a potential dichotomy between, on the one hand, wanting to bring a criminal kingpin to justice, while on the other hand, running the risk that by doing so, some lower-level criminals could simply disappear and re-emerge later under a different guise. I use this dichotomy to create tension and intrigue in my books by having a billionaire master criminal aligning himself with the authorities, while continuing to run his international criminal network. I explore who he is really working for, and how the authorities can live with such an arrangement while they plan the network’s destruction. I believe that this is an entirely new twist for crime fiction.
Inspiration for the key themes in my books comes from a blend of inputs, all embellished by my over-active imagination! Crime, sadly, and the unusual or unexpected happens all around us in our daily lives, as does the exciting and mundane. Personal experience and observation of people and my surroundings, therefore, plays a part. I stay current with national and international news and global, topical subjects. I read, watch movies and enjoy talking to friends, as well as just listening to others converse on a wide variety of topics.
More often than not, a number of often unconnected matters ignite my thinking for the overall plot and structure of a book. Each aspect has scope for a story, so I work hard to piece together and research suitable material. After that, I allow the characters and my imagination to take over, embellish my ideas and create the storyline.
How I make the stories as real as possible
While each book can be read on a standalone basis, my readers have said that they eagerly await the next book for the varied plots and to find out how the characters’ lives evolve. Feedback I have received confirms that many of the plots are believable, simply because they are based on matters readers are aware of – I have simply created a new, exciting and suspenseful context and then embellished a situation to suit the overall plot.
For readers’ additional relatability, the characters’ lives and relationships evolve over time as they face new challenging, personal experiences: it’s as though you’re getting to know a new friend. There is a familiarity to their conversations, thoughts, emotions, and how they go about their daily lives, showing that, deep down, these are just normal, everyday people. Both heroes, Laura Harding and Rob Krane, along with the primary protagonist, struggle emotionally at times and freely express their fears or frustrations when something goes wrong, or at life and their circumstances more generally. For example, the heroes’ respective parents take too much interest in their lack of a relationship. As with any adult daughter or son, this frustrates both, and they express it! This is particularly poignant because there is a mutual attraction and working together creates a dilemma for them, one that is noticed by their colleagues.
So, while my writing is completely fictional, familiarity and a sense of reality comes from topics that are widely covered in the media and the leading characters having lives and emotions that are all too real. That includes the heroes enjoying a take away pizza, or dinner at the local pub, as well as the main protagonist battling mixed feelings of wanting to do what is right while unable to subdue his strong desire for control and vengeance.
James Hanford's new novel The King Pin is available now; the first book in a series of three that are to be released in the coming months. Book two, The Eavesdroppers and book three, Murky Depths are also part of the Intervention series, and will be released on January 29, 2019 and February 28, 2019 respectively.
For an exclusive 20% discount off Intervention: The King Pin, go to www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop.
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