On The Research Trail…

 (August 2006). Evidently dissatisfied with the prospect of working on two different books simultaneously, I have started my research for another book, tentively entitled ‘The Night Skater’.

I am currently working on an American-European art theft thriller (Book Number Six), a storyline that crosses the U.S. and then encompasses events in Paris, Marseilles, London and Prague. This is not a high-tech robbery story, but more a novel about the people behind such events. I am awaiting the editorial notes for the fifth novel which will be published in 2007. The deadline for final draft on Number Five is somewhere in November, and thus the notes will arrive sometime this month. It’ll take two or three weeks to get this done, and then it will be off my desk completely until it requires proofreading next year.

So Number Five is in hand, and Number Six is close to completion. So my attention turned towards what I will do next.

Twentieth century American history has always fascinated me. Candlemoth centred around such events as the Kennedy assassinations, Vietnam, Martin Luther King, Marilyn Monroe et al. The time period from 1950 to 1980 was covered extensively. Ghostheart dealt with not only Auschwitz and the Allied liberation of the concentration camps, but also New York’s underworld through the 50s and 60s. A Quiet Vendetta was a story about the Mafia, and I feel I have exhausted that. I don’t necessarily plan to write about the Mafia again, certainly not from the viewpoint of ‘the Mafia’ as the fulcrum of a plot. City of Lies (due out September 6th 2006) has been a significant change for me as far as structure is concerned. The style is the same, of course, but it doesn’t jump back and forth between past and present. It’s a straight storyline spanning the twelve days prior to Christmas. It’s set in the current day, and it was a refreshing and challenging thing to do. Book Number Five (which still doesn’t have a title!) starts in the 40s and winds up in the present day, but the concentration is the twenty years or so between 1940 and 1960.  (Author’s note, July 2013: This book was published as ‘A Quiet Belief in Angels’.)

Number Six is, once again, far more of a linear storyline. It is set in September 2005, and though it harks back to an event in 2001 it does not jump into history as the first three have. So Number Seven…

I have worked in and around the field of drug rehabilitation for many years. Drugs, a little from a subjective perspective and a great deal from an objective view, are something with which I am very familiar. I thought about the current state of the world, the way that medical, pharmaceutical and street drugs have established deep roots within our culture, almost having become an integral and irremovable part of it. I looked at recent wars – Afghanistan and such places – and I started to make the connections and draw the lines between the supposed anti-drug battle that our society has undertaken to fight, and against this the many rumours that exist regarding the ‘establishment’s’ desire to keep the drug culture thriving for purely monetary purposes.

Hence I turned my attention to the C.I.A., and the ‘war’ they have been fighting against drug lords in Colombia, Afghanistan and other such places…and whether these ‘wars’ have really been in the direction of routing out and removing the suppliers of opium and heroin. If the U.S. consumes only 0.4% of the world’s supply of opium, then why are they spending billions and billions of dollars (a great deal more than they spend dealing with the ‘heroin problem’ as it exists in the US today) trying to identify and destroy the drug smuggling lines out of the primary opium-producing countries? Mysterious, eh?

So ‘The Night Skater’ takes shape. It will be a big book, similar in size and scope to A Quiet Vendetta, but different of course. In essence, I am already seeing it as the counterpoint piece to ‘A Quiet Vendetta’. In researching ‘Vendetta’ I came to the conclusion that the Mafia, termed ‘organised crime’, was perhaps the most disorganised organisation in the world. I started to think about the truly organised criminals, and who better to direct a light towards than the CIA?

Something happens when I get an idea. It’s like a little spark inside my head. I want to start it now. I don’t want to wait until I’ve finished the one or two or three books I might be working on at the time. That’s the way I feel about this, so alongside finishing Number Six and preparing myself for the editorial changes and amendments that will have to be made to Number Five, I have started work on Number Seven.

These things are always journeys…always fascinating…always a challenge…

Well hell, at least it’s a reason to show up to work every day, huh?

(Author’s note, July 2013: ‘The Night Skater’ went on to be published as ‘A Simple Act of Violence’.)

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