The Changing London Of Bryant & May
The creation of every story is in some sense a reaction to the times. When I developed my detectives Bryant & May, London was a different place. In many ways it has changed out of all recognition from the days of ‘Full Dark House’, the first novel in the canon.
The wealth gap has widened and most Londoners can no longer afford to buy their own houses, an estimated 300,000 Russians having forced up prices (Manhattan is seizing back its loft apartments, laundered with dodgy Russia money), and the tourist season has spread from August to 365 days a year. The city has been commoditised and commercialised out of all recognition, but hand in hand with that, became the most tolerant country in Europe (see today’s shocking map in the Independent).
When the series began, men like Arthur Bryant were atypical but not rare. Well into the 1980s, banks shut while directors went grousing on the Glorious Twelfth. Now the directors are more likely to be French, American or Dutch, and don’t even honour weekends, let alone public holidays. What’s happened is that Bryant & May have gone from being unusual to being highly anachronistic. In one way this is good, as it gives them a unique outlook on life, but in another it requires that I create a suspension of disbelief for the reader to make the stories work.
This is the ‘Dracula AD.1972’ problem. In that Hammer film, the question was; how do you bring a period character forward into the present? Hammer cheated by starting the film superbly and using the King’s Road locations well, only to then hide the count away in a convenient Victorian church so that he didn’t have to interact with modern London in any way. I could take this approach, keeping Bryant & May in the backwaters of academia and never letting them deal with modern-day Londoners, but I don’t want to go down that route.
With ‘The Bleeding Heart’ now delivered and edited, I have to fulfil the final book in the B&M contract, and am looking at my options. I’ve had enough of conspiracies for a while, and fancy pitting them against a clever, lone madman. All suggestions of what you’d like are now open once more.