by Anton Wills-Eve
Having written three full length novels, amongst the miles of articles, poems, news reports and love letters that have sprung from my keyboard over the years, I reflected that they were all basically romances. Some humorous, spiritual and both happy and sad but all definitely based on the burden that love can both place upon, and remove from, our shoulders. So I decided to give myself a complete change and write a detective story.
But there is one common factor in those first three books apart from romance. They all bear titles that are simply the names of the main characters. My first rather controversial novel, James and Jacqueline, received very mixed reviews. Some people just don’t like books on religious themes, even if the storyline is exciting, heart breaking and true. My second effort , John and Gemma was much better in the eyes of many because it really plumbed the depths of human emotions when two people are opposed on every side by relatives and friends who don’t want them to marry. So I lightened life up a bit in Glenda and Hugh and introduced a whole new approach to love. Two people drawn to each other by what they have in common in their likes and dislikes rather than just physical attraction. But frankly I felt I really did need a change so I set about my murder mystery. Yes, but what do you think it’s called. ‘Peter and Phylida’. Oh well, some things never change. But this book is changing me.
To begin with I seldom know my own story lines before I write a work of any length. With the love stories just the setting has been in my mind as I started them and this gets me interested in what is going to happen next. It has led to quite a few troubled nights wondering how my hero and heroine were going to deal with their latest crisis. Got me quite uptight on occasions too.
But, oh dear, it won’t stop. The most awful thing has happened. I have started a gripping tale of double murder, with a string of odious obvious baddies and several herrings which, if not bright red, are rather obviously pink. As Peter and Phylida are the work’s eponymous characters they have to be the amateur sleuths who have the thick, plodding policemen well beaten in their race to uncover all the twists and turns leading to the solving of the crimes. But I’ve hit a snag. As with all my works, except possibly when having the misfortune to be in charge of the news desk in Paris the night De Gaulle died, or when being nearly killed in a helicopter crash on the banks of the Mekong river between Vietnam and Cambodia, I don’t know what to write next.
You see my detectives cannot agree on what certain clues mean and so come up with different solutions to the events which rocked a small town community. Actually both endings would be equally good and I love them both, but I can only have one. So what do you think I decided to do? Well this prompt was about cause and effect. So I think I’ll name the endings A and B and take a coin and spin it as high as I can. If it comes down heads you get solution A and if tails denoument B. I hope if the poor people who publish this work of unalloyed crypto-suspense ever get to hear of how I decided on the ending they won’t just throw away the MS without even reading it.
That would be a shame, because I also could not resist making the main characters eighteen year old sixth formers in their last term at school who fall hopelessly in love right at the start. This gets my appalling inability to keep romance out of my novels out the way as fast as possible. Also I don’t actually want my readers to go out and search the highways and byways of their town to find, and strangle, the horribly precocious thirteen year old poetess who reduces our sleuths to tearing their hair out when judging a school poetry competition and having to read her absolutely sick-making entry. But it is a major clue so it has to stay. Now can you see what this prompt had done? Basically it’s made me put everyone off my next great work before it’s even hit the bookshops.
Ah well. Ask me to change my traditional writing themes and the effect will be that you have to wade through a disjointed thriller with an ending that only satisfies half of even the author’s brain. But do buy it when it comes out. That would be a really good effect!