The idea is brilliant. I write as if in a fevered dream. 458 words on a punchy opening that not only captures both the exotic setting and the protagonist’s central dilemma, but manages to blend the two in a double-helix of need and desire. A good start? I think so. Then the alarm goes. 4:58am. Yep, just another fevered dream.
Okay, back to basics. This time I will plot in advance, and do some research. Not too much, mind, I don’t want to poison the magic. Nothing worse that an over-plotted story, or too much factual detail. So the main character, right, he’s 46 years old, so that’d mean he was born in, um … Bollocks. Just make him mid-forties, we can do the math later. What really matters is where he was born, which is … ah … somewhere exotic. Yes! Now we’re kicking it …
Fevered dream my arse. Forgot to set the bloody alarm, didn’t I? Woken up by the child tugging my ear and demanding her ‘boppy’. What would Hemingway do?
Seventeen words written in four days. Christ, the Blue Nile work faster than - whoa! What if the killer is bumping off the Blue Nile? Yes! Strangling them with guitar strings, ramming drumsticks into their ears, bludgeoning them to death with banjos … This is the good stuff. Now all I need now is a motive and we’re gold. (Note to self: dig out ‘A Walk Across the Rooftops’ for research.)
Blue Nile are a moany shower of bastards, aren’t they? Surprised they haven’t been bumped off already. How’s anyone supposed to write with that racket whining on in the background? Down to 14 words now, three of them adverbs. Two syllables less and I’d have a haiku.
Kill me. Just fucking kill me. In fact, let’s not take any chances: first ring Steven Hawking and get the low-down on parallel universes, just in case there’s other versions of me out there writing this shit and - whoa! That’s genius! A serial killer novel in which the serial killer travels from one parallel universe to another, killing off all the other versions of himself. And infinitely helixed narrative with an infinite number of exotic settings? Believe it, baby! This is gold with gold on.
Parallel fucking universes, eh? Brain now twisted into a double-helix. I’d have been better off listening to the Blue Nile in a spin-dryer. Research my hole. Still, at least I’m up to 15 words now: “Stryker Ramoré stepped cautiously into Paul Buchanan’s head, armed only with a miniaturised black hole …”
Declan Burke is the author of ‘Eightball Boogie’ (2003) and ‘The Big O’ (2007). He is the editor of ‘Down These Green Streets: Irish Crime Writing in the 21st Century’ (Liberties Press) (2011), and hosts a website dedicated to Irish crime fiction called Crime Always Pays. His latest novel, ‘Absolute Zero Cool’ is published by Liberties Press.