History & Mystery
My hair, the one change everyone swore they could predict, never fell out. But it did turn white. Now it’s starting to turn black. Every day’s a surprise in C-Land.
As my fuzzy head clears and I build up a head of steam to write, the question is no longer ‘Can I?’ but ‘What should I write about?’ I have three finished non-Bryant & May books in the pipeline. The first, ‘Hot Water’, is a thriller with ‘a devastating ending’ that appears in March.
All of which rather suggests I should attempt another Peculiar Crimes Unit mystery. And already you can see the problems this presents. But rather than discuss those I want to consider a bigger question. Should it be in the style of the previous volumes, or a little different?
The last three novels, ‘The Lonely Hour’, ‘Oranges & Lemons’ and ‘London Bridge Is Falling Down’ were increasingly dense and baroque, to the point where the research alone took months. What if I made them not simpler but smoother? Let the complex London histories pass by for once and write about the characters from their human side? I know there are readers who especially enjoy the London trivia, but it was getting to the point where history was eclipsing mystery.
There’s another issue we don’t talk about much. I get no translation sales from Bryant & May because they don’t appear in other languages; they’re too difficult to translate. I’ve had this problem for a long time and once set out to write a simpler thriller – but the end result, ‘Plastic’, was probably the most outrageously dense book I ever wrote. Page by page it’s great but I can’t imagine trying to read much of it in one go.
A Date With Density
‘Hot Water’ isn’t like that. The language is clean and sleek. The first cover roughs are in and the winner chosen. I’m thrilled with it. And I’d like to apply the sleeker language style used in the novel to Bryant & May. Right now English books are selling well in Europe, especially in Sweden and Germany. It’s about finding new readership without changing the integrity of your work.
Sometimes I feel like my job is equivalent to dry-stone walling or wicker bottom chair repairing; a peculiar artisanal branch of craftsmanship appreciated only by those attuned to it. So to make it a tad less history-based makes sense. Plus, there’s another reason I can’t disclose yet. All will become clear in the fullness of time. I’m pushing for publication dates. I think you know why.