Today I get to share a great guest post on setting the scene from David Mark, author of Cruel Mercy, the most recent instalment in the DS McEvoy series of novels.
About David Mark (via Wikipedia):
David John Mark (born December 28, 1977) is an English novelist and journalist, known for his DS Aector McAvoy series of crime fiction books. Mark’s debut novel, entitled Dark Winter, became one of Richard & Judy’s Book Club picks in 2012, helping to raise its profile. Follow-up Original Skin was released in April 2013.It continues the story of DS Aector McAvoy, a Scottish policeman based in Hull’s Serious And Organised Crime Unit, following him as he investigates suspicious deaths within the city’s sleazy underworld, while contending with changing politics within the force. The third novel, Sorrow Bound was also a critical success. Before signing his publishing deal with Quercus, Mark was a journalist specialising in crime reporting for a number of newspapers and agencies – most notably for the Yorkshire Post in their Hull office. He spent time as a showbusiness reporter for the Press Association, though he has claimed he loathed the experience.
About the book:
Two men are taken into the woods. Forced to dig their own graves. But one of them survives the gunshot…
The two men travelled from Ireland to America with another man, now missing, presumed guilty. His name is Valentine Teague. Petty criminal, bare-knuckle fighter – and DS Aector McAvoy’s brother in law.
Back home, Val’s being held responsible for the blood spilt in the snowy woods of upstate New York. If McAvoy doesn’t find out the truth, all hell will break loose, putting his own family in the crossfire.
Investigating proves harder than he could have imagined. New York City is a different world, with different rules. Soon, he finds himself up against squabbling cops, mafias old and new, and the culmination of a crime forty years in the making.
All McAvoy can do is the right thing. Even if it kills him…
Click HERE to get your copy!
Guest post- Setting The Scene…
I write a lot. I’m only a one-book-a-year chap because my publishers like to have a bit of time off between launches. I bash out thousands of words each day and in the time that I’m not writing, I’m composing lines and conceiving new characters in my head. There is a name for this affliction. It’s ‘annoying’. The Latin escapes me.
Invariably (until recently) my books have been set in Hull. Why? Well, I know the city. I’ve lived around the area for 17 years and I was a journalist in the city for an age. I can describe the buildings because I know them so well. I know that if you drive down Southcoates Lane with your windows down you will smell the cocoa from the chocolate factory. I know if you head for Wincolmlee to avoid the traffic on Beverley Road, the stink from the tanners will make your eyes water. I know that the car park at the shops on Victoria Dock looks like the surface of the moon thanks to some kind of weird erosion that you tend to get when you in-fill an old dock and cover it with houses. I know that if you pop into The George on Land of Green Ginger, you’ll get chatting with an old sailor who drinks rum-and-blackcurrant and who takes taxis back and forth between his favourite pubs, four miles apart, after every round. I know the sort of customer you will see in Bob Carver’s chippy at lunchtime and the sort who will clip-clop an extra mile to try and find a falafel and hummus wrap on Princes Avenue. I know Hull, and I know how to write it.
But after five books with the city as the star, one can begin to wonder where to go next. I’ve set scenes in all the local landmarks that I feel an affinity with. I’ve described the sky so many times that I’m beginning to think that my anthology will be entitled Hull’s Sky – Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m not bored with it by any means – I just like describing new sights and sounds and sensations.
That kind of thinking can only lead in one direction. Lower East Side, Manhattan. I’m sure you’re presuming I chose the area because I was familiar with it. Nope. Never been. Hadn’t been to America, actually. Clueless. Didn’t even know Manhattan was an island until I pressed the wrong button on GoogleMaps. But I’m nothing if not a masochist. I had a story floating around my cranium, you see. I wondered how McAvoy would deal with a new cast of characters and a whole different landscape to lose himself in. How he would respond to situations when everybody could conceivably be carrying a gun. I wondered whether I could successfully see out through the eyes of a good-hearted New York priest whose good intentions lead him into darkness. I wondered if I could create new Mafioso hitmen and bosses and make them original. Whether the scope and scale of the country would allow a serial killer to remain undetected for decades. And I wondered how McAvoy would feel about asking questions and following the trail in a city where he has no authority and nobody can understand his accent. It was my stranger-in-a-strange-land story and it still comes as a shock to me that agent extraordinare Oli Munson was able to persuade my UK and US publishers that I could do the project justice.
Was it difficult? Yes, horribly. When you can literally throw a rock in the air and know it will land somewhere stimulating, one can feel a little overwhelmed. How to boil it down? How to pick the nits that work? How to put Aector where he needs to be without it seeming like a contrivance? GoogleMaps was a help. So were the endless newspaper articles I read online. But in the end I did what I always do. I walked the streets, drank in the bars and talked to the people. I soaked it up. 72 hours in New York. Bars, boxing gyms, casinos and after-hours drinking dens. I had a far better time than Aector. I didn’t have to have any bare-knuckle boxing matches or have my skin carved open by a serial killer called The Penitent (who uses human remains in a way that might turn your stomach). I let my imagination become an aerial, picking up the frequencies of dialect, description and nuance. I don’t know if I nailed it, but I know I enjoyed describing things I hadn’t described before.
Aector will be home in the next book and I don’t know if I will take him away again. Hull is home, after all. And on the plus side, while I was away I did come up with a dozen new ways to describe the sky over Hull… ‘As bleak as the post-election mood’.
Big thanks to David for taking the time to write such a great guest post! 🙂