Guest Post: Why My Main Character Has Cerebral Palsy by Richard Rippon

Hey guys,

Today is publication day for Lord Of The Dead by Richard Rippon, and I have a guest post from him for you all to read! First though, here’s the all-important bookish information you need to know!

Press Release:

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On the 3rd November 2017, a thrilling new voice in contemporary British crime-fiction will emerge.

 

A woman’s body has been found on the moors of Northumberland, brutally murdered and grotesquely dismembered. Northumbria police enlist the help of unconventional university psychologist Jon Atherton, a decision complicated by his personal history with lead investigator Detective Sergeant Kate Prejean. 

 

As Christmas approaches and pressure mounts on the force, Prejean and Atherton’s personal lives begin to unravel as they find themselves the focus of media attention, and that of the killer known only as Son Of Geb. 

 

Lord Of The Dead is a gripping, electrifying piece of modern noir fiction.

 

“A stunning novel. If Thomas Harris was to write a British take on the Nordic-Noir genre, this would be it. Rippon is an exciting new voice in British crime fiction.” 

Nathan O’Hagan, author of ‘The World Is (Not) A Cold Dead Place’

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http://www.obliteratipress.com

@ObliteratiPress

obliterati.press@yahoo.com


Why My Main Character Has Cerebral Palsy

 

Before I started writing it, I had some ideas of the things I wanted to achieve with my novel. I wanted it to be firmly set in the North East, but I didn’t want it to feel small-town. I wanted to create a pacy thriller, but have an interesting and unique premise. I wanted it to have a gritty noir feel, but have almost cinematic moments, which would make the most of the Northumberland setting. Most importantly, I wanted the characters, and particularly my protagonist, to be as realistic – but as different and engaging – as possible.

 

I hit upon the idea of creating a younger version of my Uncle Jim, a retired accountant who happens to have a razor-sharp intellect, a great sense of humour and a wicked turn of phrase, which I thought would work well on the page. He also happens to be affected by cerebral palsy.

 

Although I initially planned to simply transplant parts of his personality into an able-bodied person, it didn’t feel right to airbrush his disability away, to just cherry-pick certain aspects of his personality for the convenience of the book. Disabled people are still woefully under-represented on TV and in literature. For example, around 5% of TV characters have a disability, compared to 16% in the UK. When they are represented, they’re rarely given substantial storylines. I wanted my character to be front and centre – the lead, the hero – not the quirky sidekick behind the scenes.    

 

And so, Jon Atherton was born. While I wanted to include his disability, I didn’t want this to be the sole focus, I wanted it to be more incidental. Yes, it’s part of him, but just one part. I went on to add some significant embellishments, until Jon stopped being a version of Jim, and took a life of his own.

 

Of course the fictional Jon’s disability is something that has shaped him in part. He has memories of being bullied, and a complicated relationship with his parents that stems from this, but it isn’t his defining characteristic. He’s a bit of a lad – a sexual being, with a fondness for female company – and has an interesting psychological makeup, which makes him well-suited to hunt down killers. He’s also not without his flaws. He’s witty, but sometimes his sarcasm can be hurtful and inappropriate. He’s been unfaithful to a wife who is still suffering from post-partum depression, and their relationship is still in recovery.       

 

Atherton having CP presented a few practical problems. He probably couldn’t be the cop I first envisaged. Instead, he’d be a university professor who specialises in serial killers. There’d be no chase scenes, or sliding over car bonnets in the pursuit of criminals. Instead, his input would be rely on his intellect, aided by a female partner, and police team who’d step in when things got physical.

 

Another problem was that I didn’t know enough about the day-to-day implications of living with cerebral palsy. I felt like a bit of a charlatan. What right did I have to write with any kind of authenticity about what it would be like to have a lifelong condition such as CP? I turned to Twitter for help, and found someone who helped me better understand how CP feels, and the frustrations that can come with it.

 

In the end, I think my decision to introduce Jon Atherton was the right one. I’ll never be the best-qualified to write with absolute authority about life with CP, but I can at least try to contribute a believable and compelling hero who happens to live with a disability.


Many thanks to Richard Rippon for this great post, and to Nathan O’Hagan of Obliterati Press!

You can pick up a copy of Lord Of The Dead by clicking the link below:

Lord Of The Dead by Richard Rippon

~Guest Post~ Nathan O’Hagan of Obliterati Press

Hey guys,

Something a little different today. Author Nathan O’Hagan has set up an indie publisher called Obliterati Press, and he’s written a guest post!

About Nathan:

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After spending most of his teens and twenties in various unsuccessful bands, Nathan eventually turned his hand to writing. In 2013 he self published a short fiction collection, “Purge”. “The World Is (Not) A Cold Dead Place” is his first completed novel, though he has since completed one more and is in the early stages of a third. He has also written a screenplay and and another series of short stores which he may self publish in the future. He regularly writes features and reviews for the online fanzine God Is In The TV.

Nathan grew up on Merseyside, rarely venturing away other than a brief stint in Carlisle. He now lives in Northamptonshire with his wife and two children and works full time for the NHS.

Follow Nathan on twitter @NathanOHagan and Facebook Nathan O’Hagan, writer.


And now over to Nathan…

A quick Google search for ‘independent uk publishers’ will tell you there is currently no shortage of publishing presses in operation. I wouldn’t even begin to try to count them all, as there’s probably already another few sprung up since I started typing this. When I first began discussing with my friend Wayne Leeming the idea of setting up our own small press, the main question I kept asking myself was ‘why’? Did the world really need yet another indie publishing press? Especially one set up by two blokes who, to be frank, didn’t have a clue what they were doing at that point. After a few months of discussion with Wayne the ‘why’ changed to ‘why not’? We agreed on the name Obliterati Press, inspired by the album ‘The Obliterati’ by American alternative rock legends Mission Of Burma, and agreed our focus, at least initially, and as much out of necessity as out of choice, would be to find debut or emerging novelists.

 

We talked about the kinds of books we were interested in publishing. Although we both have broad taste, and didn’t want to necessarily rule out any genre, we knew that the sweet spot was going to be books similar to our own, and to the books we loved most. There were certain key words; gritty, authentic, powerful, that came up a lot. Although both northerners, we both now live away from the north; me in the Midlands, Wayne in Somerset, so although we’re drawn strongly to northern writing, we were both agreed we didn’t want to limit ourselves to that alone. We talked about other publishers we admired; Armley Press (who published both my two novels and Wayne’s), Wrecking Ball Press, Dead Ink and others. Armley Press provided the most inspiration, not only as they published our own work, but we decided very early that, to make setting up financially realistic, we would copy the print-on-demand model they use. To get started, we knew we’d have to put in some of our own money, but to make things economically sustainable, print-on-demand was the only way to go.

 

The main breakthrough idea we had was that, rather than set up, try to build up a following and seek submissions from far and wide, leading to a potential glut of submissions the two of us would never be able to read through with sufficient care and attention (I still work full time, so my reading and writing time is limited), we decided that I would approach a couple of writers I knew who, although talented, were amongst the many gifted writers who had as yet been unable to find a publisher. I sent off a couple of emails explaining what me and Wayne were planning, and asked whether they would be willing to let us read their current, unpublished manuscripts, with a view to potentially putting them out as our first releases. Luckily, both were amenable to the request, and seemed cautiously enthusiastic about the idea of being there at the start of something new. First up was ‘Lord Of The Dead’ by Richard Rippon, a brilliantly dark crime-thriller set in and around Newcastle. Wayne and I knew right away that we wanted this to be the first book we put out. It had everything; a gripping, twisty plot, great lead characters, a distinctive regional setting, and great commercial potential. We were salivating at the prospect of publishing it, and, thankfully, Richard agreed to take a chance with a new press.

 

Next was ‘The Baggage Carousel’ by Dave Olner, a deliciously visceral dark comedy that will shock and amuse in equal measure, and contains a young male protagonist who is destined to go down in literary history with the likes of Caulfield and Meursault. Having struck so lucky with Richard, we couldn’t believe our luck when another brilliant writer, with such a brilliant novel, was willing to go with us.

 

So the answer to my original ‘why’ was, if books as good as ‘Lord Of The Dead’ and ‘The Baggage Carousel’ hadn’t found publication, then yes, there absolutely is a need for yet another indie press. There are so many great, undiscovered, unrecognised writers out there that, frankly, I don’t think there can ever be enough publishers. I can’t begin to imagine how many talented writers there are out there, just needing someone to take a chance on them, to give them a platform. We’re very proud we have done that for two brilliant writers, and hope to do so for many more writers as Obliterati Press hopefully grows and develops in the coming months and years.

 

‘Lord Of The Dead’ will be published in November 2017, and ‘The Baggage Carousel’ will be published in Spring 2018.

 

www.obliteratipress.com

@ObliteratiPress

Obliterati Press- Facebook

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Many thanks to Nathan for writing this guest post! Wishing you and Wayne all the best with Obliterati Press! 🙂