The Return Of Mr Bryant

Bryant and May, Reading & Writing

Some authors wax lyrical about the process of writing and speak of scenes coming alive and characters leaping off the page. I’ve always been allergic to that kind of talk, and in fact rarely discuss my personal methods at all. But something happened yesterday that I wanted to share, because to me this is the essence of writing.

I’m halfway through the ninth Bryant & May novel, ‘The Memory Of Blood’. In this draft it’s most about getting the plot in shape and shepherding the story from one end to the other. So far, I’ve written the words ‘Arthur Bryant’ without feeling the character was properly back, and that’s normal for this stage. I’d already written a scene where he’s at the beach, and liked it, but he still wasn’t really there in his full character.

Then I reached a point yesterday where Bryant was at his desk, ploughing through dusty old books about phrenology and being annoying, and suddenly – I don’t know what I did – he jumped into focus. And he was back, derailing the investigation with the maddest of ideas, and looking right at me with a smile on his face. Bryant is based on my best friend Jim, now deceased, and suddenly Jim was there in Bryant, and the whole thing blossomed into life – and at that point I knew the book would work.

And that’s why I’m a writer – for that exhilarating moment, pinned in place on the page – right there.

PS I see someone spotted the joke in the picture – well done!

7 comments on “The Return Of Mr Bryant”

  1. Vickie Farrar says:

    Thank you for sharing that very intereting Moment in the Life of an Author. And lucky Jim…to have an eternal best friend keeping his essence alive.

  2. Gwenda says:

    Very much enjoyed Off the Rails. The personalities of the PCU staff keep this series interesting. If you reprint this book in future please update page 25, paragraph 3, which states, “There was a case in America, a young couple, Karla Holmolka and Paul Bernardo.” This is incorrect. These two murderers are Canadian and their crimes took place in Ontario.

  3. admin says:

    Mea culpa, Gwenda, it appears my source material didn’t define the difference between America and Canada (a very common mistake in the rest of the world, sadly). Although why you would want to lay claim to such a horrific pair of people is beyond me – perhaps it’s better to leave them in America?

  4. Steve says:

    Um….no, we don’t want them. Bad enough we’ve got the tea-baggers. Thanks all the same.

  5. I.A.M. says:

    Perhaps you could get Karla Holmolka and Paul Bernardo to meet the Tea-Baggers?

    She’s out now, by the way. Living a new life in a half-way house and being rehabilitated. Personally, I suspect that she worked a light sentence in order to convict Mr. Bernardo, but she was the real brains behind the thing. All entirely conjecture on my part.

    I’ve always thought that basically, Canada and New Zealand were much the same in the eyes of the world: no one knows we exist, we’re right next to something huge and loud, and take umbrage when we’re mistaken for our more famous neighbor. Just try mixing up Australia and N.Z. around the flat and see how far it gets you… probably right off the balcony and into the canal!

  6. I.A.M. says:

    Just noticed the detail in the photo… well done!

  7. Gwenda says:

    In addition to the heinous nature of their crimes, Holmolka and Bernardo rank in the upper echelon of Canadian criminals because of the plea deal she made with the Crown, which netted her a relatively light sentence. After that deal was struck, newly-discovered videotapes showed she was not a victim of Bernardo as she claimed, but a much more involved participant. This case underscored national fury with Canada’s legal system. Holmolka had a hand in the deaths of three young girls, including her own sister, but she’s already free after a paltry amount of time spent in prison. True, it’s sad for a country to have to claim these people as their own, but my concern is factual correctness in this otherwise excellent series.

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