Blog on the Bus pt64 (why I decided to kill Jack Vincent)

Good morning bus bloggers. Before I begin, I should warn you that this post contains spoilers. If you’ve not read but intend to read any of my work, please look away now and stop reading this post.

That’s better.

I feel troubled dear friend: there is a heaviness weighing on my mind and I feel the need to confess to you the real reason that I decided to kill off Detective Inspector Jack Vincent (in case it was troubling you too).

When I started writing Integration (my first formal foray with the written word), I wanted to create a conflict for my protagonist Mark Baines. Baines, as a character, was based very loosely on myself (write what you know, right?) and a lot of the views and emotions he felt were representative of my own. I tried to create a conflicting character that would get under my skin. Who better than the officer investigating Baines for the crimes he was blackmailed into committing?

In my head, D.I. Vincent’s physique (bald and with a ‘tash) was based on David Haig (the actor who played D.I. Derek Grim in Ben Elton’s tv series The Thin Blue Line). Bet you didn’t know that (In fact I’m curious to know how you did picture him?)! I didn’t want Vincent to be a figure of fun (not to the reader anyway). I wanted him to be a character who strived to do the right thing but inevitably got it wrong. All the time. I wanted the reader to dislike him; more for his misinterpretation of facts than anything specific he did.

When I published the story I felt pleased that he’d reached the level of dislike that I wanted.

When writing Remorse, I once again needed a police officer who would jump to the wrong conclusions and so I wheeled Vincent out once more. He delivered for me again.

When I started plotting Redemption, I had in the back of my mind that Vincent would appear but, as the majority of the plot was in London, his role would only be minor. But as I started to write his part in the final shootout at the hotel, something happened: a breakthrough.

I suddenly understood his motivation and emotional dexterity. As I wrote his farewell to Ali Jacobs I was filled with empathy for this man who had dedicated his life to striving for justice and failing more often than he succeeded.

As I started to write Snatched, I knew that this emotionally-enhanced Jack Vincent would end the story as an anti-hero, delivering unconventional justice for protagonist Sarah Jenson.

Some of you will remember that my fifth novel Shadow Line was originally called Dead Drop and only changed as a better-known author had released a story with the same title a month earlier. The original title had been a reference to a code word used by the Security Services but was also to hint at the end of Jack Vincent. But why did I decide he needed to go?

Simple: I’d grown to like him.

Jack Vincent was no longer a character that got under my skin and as such he no longer served a purpose in my writing.

He had to go.

Out of respect for this character I’d come to think of as a relative, I decided to give him an epic send off which was why he took the central role in Shadow Line (it was the least I could do).

But that left me with a void.

Who would replace DI Vincent, the only character to appear in each of my novels (and one of my short stories)? I couldn’t decide who or what I wanted to step into those size-9s. That’s why his position remains vacant in my forthcoming novel Trespass (which you’ll be able to read on 01 December – contain your excitement!)

The good news is: I’ve been interviewing several potential replacements (my imagination is an awesome place) and I can officially announce the position has been filled and D.I. Tony Hunt, one of Northumberland’s finest will make his debut in 2014’s Crosshairs, currently being written.

Anyway, I’ve taken up far too much of your time today. Until the next tie, happy reading!

Stephen

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Blog on the Bus pt 55 (it really is a global world, right?)

Good morning tube-trekkers, bus-bloggers and patient-pedestrians.

I started a new job last week. I can’t tell you what it is (just pretend I’m Jason Bourne or something, will you?) but it is part of a global organisation (how many of you are picturing me stroking a white cat at this point?). I have always known I was part of a global group but I don’t think I ever truly understood what that meant until Wednesday when I attended a team meeting via video phone. I was in London, there were 3 in Mexico, 2 in the USofA, 2 in Hong Kong and 1 in Brazil. We were all talking about the same thing but in our own interpretation of the English language. Being a global organisation, this was not as difficult as you might assume (SPECTRE never had a problem, did they?). But it was the very fact that several corners of the world had come together to communicate that really opened my eyes to the possibilities that technology brings to us (did someone at the back just utter “D’uh”?).

I appreciate I might be a bit slow in reaching this obvious insight, but there’s no time like the present to learn new concepts (unless you’re my mother who still can’t remember how to make a call from her brick-like mobile phone). Wednesday’s meeting reminded me just how important technology, particularly the kind used for communication, is. We are blessed with Twitter, Facebook, SKYPE, LinkedIn and the rest but how many of us truly embrace it? The clue is in the title: World Wide Web. Why are not more of us using it to reach out to others across the globe?

Many authors (for that is what I pretend to be when I’m out of the office) will blog about the means they use to build their social network and this usually revolves around a kind of paying it forward strategy where you scratch someone’s back in the hope that they’ll return the favour. More often than not this seems to work relatively successfully. I take my hat off to anyone who can find the time to scratch all the backs out there to indirectly promote their work. I’ve been fortunate to have my spinal itches caressed by others and have endeavoured to return the favour but have struggled to join this group of successful indie authors who reach out and use their fingernails for more than just chewing.

Ultimately, it’s easy to be a writer but it’s bloody difficult to be a successful one. The writing community is warm, kind, gentle and supportive (certainly in my experience), however, the publishing industry is competitive, harsh and not something I would wish upon my worst enemy (even those bastards who called me names in school!). To be a successful writer requires 50% good story and 150% brawn, effort, back-scratching and sheer damn luck (maths skills not so essential thank goodness!). So where does that leave indie author Stephen Edger (that’s me in case you’d forgotten)?

In a dog-eat-dog world I fear that I will only wind up in someone else’s toothpick but despite my reservations about what the future holds I can rest safe in the knowledge that I’ve published 5 of my stories and in doing so I’ve left my digital footprint on the world.

So let’s all raise a toast (orange juice or Champagne – you choose) to those embracing the World Wide Web and hope that we don’t get left too far behind.

Until the next time, happy reading,

Stephen

(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. Find his work here, here or via stephenedger.com)