Some ideas for stories never die do they?
Our new thriller Let Death Begin is one of those. Len Maynard wrote the raw draft for the story way back in 1992 when we dared one another to write outside our beloved supernatural arena. We both produced a very short thriller novel, which was unusual for us because up until then we were known for short stories and novellas, many of them ghost stories.
Trouble was both “novels” – little more than novella length really – were not very good. So both manuscripts stayed locked in a drawer until recently when we dusted them off. What we read was nowhere near as bad as we had remembered. With a great deal of work – okay completely rewriting them – we have two “pacy and engaging” (ARC views not mine) thrillers.
Let Death Begin is about East End villains and corrupt cops. It was originally called The Killing Room, and such a room does feature in the plot. Now the story is novel length and completely updated and revised. It is a mystery thriller as there are plenty of twists and turns in the story.
That happens a lot – the idea that comes and hangs around. Sometimes the plot needs time to germinate in the mind until it is ready to be born. Other times the idea is little more than an interesting beginning with little meat on the bones of the plot to get to anywhere near an ending.
With our short stories we have always had a solution to that. If one started a story and got lost along the way they handed it over to the other for them to finish it. Not as easy as it sounds of course because a story has to have a voice and that voice has to be consistent. Now we have been doing it for while we have a joint voice that makes the process smoother. Our first professional sale was 1974 and so 2014 marks a significant anniversary for us.
That way of working isn’t so easy with a novel of course. The threads are more complex. The plot more involved. The story told over a much greater length. Generally with novels we have found that one writes and one edits and revises. So the narrative voice is consistent.
Sometimes an idea comes fully formed. The beginning, middle and end all present themselves in the mind and the writing takes care of itself. More often though it is a beginning that shouts at the brain and from there it is a process of adding the rest. Sometimes we do that as we go along, other times the whole book is mapped out in outline. When we go the first route and let the narrative drive itself we find the characters have a very loud voice in where the plot leads.
With Let Death Begin that has changed. Because the original was so old Mick Sims has taken up the original story and significantly revised it. The original story is the same but with plot elements added and deleted. The characters are Len’s and their actions are unchanged, to a large extent, but the plot has altered. We have been able to work like that because we have a Maynard Sims style now that is natural to both of us. http://www.maynard-sims.com
We have decided to try the self publish route – alongside our traditionally published novels – and have used Enigmatic Press for the purpose. (www.enigmaticpress.com) The covers have been professionally produced for us and I have to say that the Createspace paperbacks look and feel really good. The process is simple and the end result is excellent. Putting on Kindle is a piece of cake as well.
In the book James is shot by a clown. Sara’s house is broken into and some letter stolen. James is an ordinary man thrust into an extraordinary situation as his current life collides with his past. Soon he is fighting to stay alive. It’s a character led thriller.
Titles are strange things. The original title The Killing room had already been done by the time we rewrote so we had to come up with something different. As the book was so much changed anyway it was an easy choice to make to alter the title.
I always find it interesting where story titles come from. Sometimes the title is created from within the story itself, when the subject just has to be paraded like that. Sometimes I’ve had story ideas when listening to music and the title has come from a line in the song. Examples of that from my own stories include ‘Between The Dead Men And The Blind’ a line from 40,000 Headmen, ‘Soaking Wet Without A Boat’ a line from a Monkees B side (remember those? the group and 45 singles), and ‘Slightly All The Time’ which is the title of the Soft Machine track from Third (my favourite piece of music bar none). Oh, and another one of ours – Flame was a follow up novella to Moths so the title was an easy choice. And then there are oblique titles which are intended as hints or suggestions about a theme. I’m guessing there are loads more ways titles get chosen.
Let Death Begin by Maynard Sims is available now on Amazon as paperback and Kindle ebook.