Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Death Stalks My Keyboard

DeathImage by tanakawho via FlickrTo mark the start of the Dubai Summer Surprises Shopping Festival and the re-appearance of the infinite-eyed yellow tide of evil, I'm putting up a traffic-destroying writing post today.

Death Stalks My Keyboard

I was at a workshoppy thing with a client a while back, run by a very nice but terribly keen American person. I don't think anyone can properly understand wacky sects until they watch someone corporate giving it their all - the reinforcement, the expectation of people to 'become one' with the goal of being a team sometimes scares me in a mild sort of way. Anyway, the workshop was to start with everyone introducing themselves, their organisation and something that not everybody knew about them.

There were English people present. Worse, there were Jordanians there. The introduction was met with wide-eyed horror and then people started, cajoled and jollied along, to mumble their introductions. Joe Doe was from this agency and he was a karaoke singer, Jenny Penny from that agency had a secret love of Brussels sprouts.

The beam swept up to me. 'Hi, I'm Alexander McNabb and I'm from Spot On. Last week I killed a girl."

I Kill Her

The silence was rather marvellous. Our visitors smiled nervously; two watery, uncertain grins. I went on to explain and their relief was palpable, which was something of a surprise, I have to say. I mean, do murderers really confess all to visiting workshop leaders? Perhaps they do...

I had told the truth, in a way - the girl I had killed was very close indeed to my heart and hers was the first death that actually affected me. I was amazed at the strength of my reaction the decision to end the life I had essentially given her in my head. I couldn't listen to Secret Garden's ethereal Sleepsong for weeks afterwards, a song that was as connected to her death as George Winston's February Sea was to her life. It was all the more surprising as I had carried out a vast number of deaths in my first attempt to write a book, a funny book called Space. This was at least partly because one of the characters derived sexual satisfaction from the act of killing - the neat bit being that she worked for the CIA. (She also wore a black leather catsuit. That was just my female side coming through)

Olives, my first serious novel, had - as one writer friend put it - a pretty high headcount. But Beirut starts with a death, one which has invariably provoked very strong reactions indeed from test readers who had previously read Olives. It's a brutal death, a cold death - and from its terminal simplicity the whole book flows out into its different directions, plots and possibilities. And yes, the baldy bloke with the scythe and sartorial challenges is never far away.

The book I'm working on right now is totally hinged on death's inevitability. The one thing you know from the first word is the main protagonist the book is named after is going to die very soon .

Death does, indeed, stalk my keyboard. I'm not sure why, because I don't consider myself a morbid person at all. Mind you, as I pointed out in a (similar, in fact) guest post over at Phillipa Fioretti's blog, if I wasn't getting this stuff out of my system this way, who knows what I'd be getting up to?

Anyway, sorry Naeema. But I did enjoy the reaction! :) Enhanced by Zemanta

1 comment:

Amanius Caffeinatus Irritabilus said...

I just spit out my tea laughing at the casual sounding confession. It's amazing how some people show fervent defense for all emotions,namely those coming out as confessions. However they all get squeamish when they get what they asked for.(Not hinting that you did kill anybody in the material physical world-- not saying you didn't either..)

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