Thursday, 7 March 2013
I was recently interviewed by Fantastic Books for their CRIME SPOTLIGHT
Here is the answer to one of the questions:
This was answered with A Murderer's Heart in mind.
Have you ever found yourself in a dodgy situation as a result of your field research? (Be creative if necessary)
Hmm, now if I tell you about the time I needed to know about knives...their length, shape and so on....what kind was needed for instant death, I have to be sure that it remains confidential. Although nobody knows my real name, so I don’t suppose it matters.
My immediate thought was the Internet, but I wanted to actually ‘feel’ the knife, get under the skin of the killer, so to speak. I felt I couldn’t go the police because...well, you understand, I didn’t want to be put onto any ‘watch’ list. And in Britain it’s not easy walking into a shop that sells such things without too much curiosity.
I asked around – you’d be surprised how many people know where and how to obtain such information – and soon had an address, scrawled on a beer mat, amongst accumulated unidentifiable stains (except for the beer).
Of course it had to be in the poor part of town, and yes, the spooky dark alley with only one door at the very end. I’d worn trainers, just in case I’d have to run, although my sprinting days are far in the past.
I knocked on the scabby door, the peeling green paint hanging in strips, like curving stalactites, within the glow of the small light, which looked as if it’d been stapled above the door it leaned so badly, but at least I could see.
Within a couple of heartbeats, the door juddered inwards, after grating stiffly wood on wood, seemingly opened by a gorilla.
Sorry, no of course it wasn’t, but that was my first impression...and my second and third.
“Yeah,” he grunted.
Barely able to swallow, I croaked, “I er, um...”
The gorilla sighed and pulled the door wider, allowing enough gap to let me through, as if he’d become used to babbling idiots in all his years as henchman.
What could I do?
Run in the opposite direction, you say.
But why would I act sensibly? I am an author, and my art is everything to me. And besides, it would give me a feel for the underworld...how a killer might feel.
The door would have slammed if it hadn’t been for the way it jammed onto the door frame. I wanted to tell him that the weather would only make it worse, but thought better of it.
He grunted for me to move forward, the door finally shut again.
It was surprisingly light through the passage and I was shortly standing before another door; the gorilla squeezed around me to open it.
Not even a creak this time.
I tried not to stare at the figure in the shadows but concentrate on the man seated behind a large desk, so large in fact that I’m sure it could have housed the host of vagrants I’d seen on my way here.
The door clicked shut. I glance behind; the gorilla was gone.
Puffing on a cigar, the man glared at me within the muted light, the source of which came from the desk lamp, and stated, “You’re here for the knife?”
“Yes, well, um, actually I...”
The man sat back in his chair, reminding me of the clichéd Bond villain (without the cat), blew a smoke ring and grinned.
And there it was; the gold tooth...wrong villain.
I knew he was waiting for me to speak without the ums, so I coughed, wiggled my shoulders and said, “I’m an author and I need a knife to...”
“What, you gonna see what it’s like to kill then write about it?”
Nobody laughed, so I knew he wasn’t expecting me to chuckle.
Mr Shadow didn’t move and I wondered for a moment if he were a figment of my fear.
Then he shuffled, as if he’d read my thoughts and my belly churned. I was going to be sick.
Unexpectedly, the man, his bald head bobbing, as if agreeing to a silent conversation, said, “Nah, I’m only messing with ya. Nobby told me you were coming. Something about you wanting to ‘feel’ the thing – here!” he said, either with laughter or because something had caught in his throat from lunch.
The knife was long, slim and sharp. It glinted at me, as if it too were laughing.
“Go on, then, pick it up!”
I shuffled forward, daring my hand to grab it and feeling like Indiana Jones about touch a snake.
The handle felt warm in my shaky hand, my other itching to finger its point.
“That do it?”
“I’m not sure.” I looked at him and asked, “Would this kill easily?”
“Now that would be telling.”
“No offence taken. But in the right circumstances, yes it could.”
I put the knife down, wondering what on Earth I was doing here. How could I have been so stupid? “I’d like to leave now.”
“I bet you would.”
How I got out of there is a whole other story.
For the full interview please see: Fantastic Books Crime Spotlight 2
Thank you very much for this opportunity.