The Park Gates Are Open!
‘Bryant & May: Wild Chamber’ is here at last – it’s my biggest B&M novel and took a little longer to write than usual because of the huge amount of research I did. However I ended up discarding about 80% of it, something I nearly always do.
Not every novel has a lot of research, but I wanted to figure out not only how the parks of London came to be but why parks exist at all. There are so many of them in London, many seemingly accidental, and it’s something you don’t appreciate until you visit cities like Tokyo or New York, where parks feel designated and less haphazard.
As well as the purpose of parks I wanted to look at some of London’s park history close-up, and touch upon something else that seems largely uncovered – the feelings that parks inspire and the sense of dreaming they create. I’ve always been interested in understanding how imagination works (that’s what ‘Calabash’ was about) and for a long time I wanted to write a book about films – not the actual films themselves but the gap between the eye and the screen where imagination lives.
The creative mind is filled with paradoxes, mindfulness and daydreaming, seriousness and play, openness and sensitivity, solitude and collaboration. When we find ourselves in a calm, quiet lacuna (something that’s increasingly hard to do these days) we have space to think and build something entirely new.
We’ve largely taken parks for granted over the centuries. London’s councils are forever seeking ways to make them turn a profit. The park in Harrogate is what makes that very beautiful town so special. It cuts through the middle of the buildings, acting as the town’s defining feature. Its management feels very relaxed and as a consequence it’s used by everyone.
So, lots of parks in the new B&M, but also – Raymond Land’s business management skills, a new character, Bryant’s hallucinations reach a peak, an impossible murder, Maggie to the rescue and a siege at the Peculiar Crimes Unit! What’s not to love?