Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Edits, diets, tides

Yes, I know I've been absent a lot of late. I'm sorry, but I've been busy. It's some weeks since Mr Stuart and I sat up into the wee small hours, drinking fine malt whisky and talking toot. Now I have to remember all that we discussed about Natural Causes, my first attempt at writing a novel in the loosely defined 'crime' genre.

Those of you who were kind enough to read the short story out of which this novel erupted like some crazed alien monster, may recall that there was a minor character, referred to only in passing, by the name of McLennan. I have to admit to having stolen this character from Stuart. Malky McLennan is the Edinburgh crime boss whose thugs are trying to muscle into the Aberdeen scene, and thereby causing much mayhem and unhappiness in Dying Light. Did anyone say Kentucky Fried?

Pinching him as a character for the short story didn't make any odds. It was, as they say, an homage to another writer. And he played no role in the story other than being the owner of the company renovating the house where the dead girl's body was found. I pepper my writing with obscure references that quite often even I don't get when I re-read, so no harm done, really.

But when it came to writing the novel, I needed a baddie and in the rush that was the writing of the thing, quite overlooked the fact that Malcolm McLennan already existed in a published novel by another author, whose permission I did not have to use him.

So I changed his name. How crap is that?

Mr Stuart was very good about it, really, but in the discussions that ensued that long February night, we both came to the conclusion that the McLennan I had painted (now called McAllister, after my old Psychology lecturer - another homage to a great, and sadly now departed, man) was something in the manner of a cliché.

Time for a change, methinks. But it's not easy turning your main villain into an upstanding and respectable member of the Edinburgh business community without fundamentally ripping the guts out of the tale and stomping them into the dusty ground, so to speak. Many many aspects of the story bounce off McAllister's acknowledged existence as an underworld kingpin, a tartan mafioso.

So these long days and nights since returning from the great Canadian Skiing Adventure have mostly been taken up with re-reading and musing, trying out ideas and rejecting them. But now I think I have the answer and can finally start rewriting the thing properly. Hopefully I can get that done this week, and then I can send it out to my agent and the wider world.

Which will keep Sandra happy, if nothing else.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

YES! Because everything is about keeping me happy. And I do wish you'd persuade evilkev that should be his #1 priority as well. Enough of this equality crap...

March 27, 2007 8:14 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Here's me I thought that was evilkev's number one priority...

March 28, 2007 8:58 am  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

You men always sympathize with each other.

March 28, 2007 3:58 pm  

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