Monday, 6 February 2017

The Girl on the Bus - The basic premise...

I tried to create a plot for the novel, which essentially involves the traditional detective story elements: 

  • A missing girl
  • a concerned friend
  • a retired detective 
  • and an escalating body count

After her parents bitter divorce, Vicki Reiner spends her days in the beach house in Oceanside.
There she sinks into lonely depression. However, when she invites her former college friend down from Barstow for a couple of weeks, things begin to look brighter.

In her final text message, Laurie had said that she bought a bus ticket on-line at an amazing price...
But she never arrived in Oceanside. Vicki approached the police, who dismissed her. But as she sat lost outside the police station, an elderly detective approached Vicki and tried to address her worries. He explained in a calm and experienced voice that Laurie would most likely show up in a couple of weeks, but if she didn't then Vicki should just get back in touch.  

Leighton Jones felt he had nothing to lose. He encountered Vicki on his last day ever as a detective. So even if the girl's friend had indeed vanished, it would be somebody else's problem. That's why, three weeks later, he was caught off guard as he sat on his small terrace eating a salad and sipping a crisp white wine, when Vicki stepped across his lawn to ask for his help again...

Thursday, 2 February 2017

The Girl on The Bus - Where it all began...

About twenty years ago, I was completing my university studies and was working mornings and evenings with a local youth charity. My manager at the time had arranged to give a presentation to a group of employees in the highland city if Inverness. However, she had double-booked herself and asked if I could go in her place. I happily agreed, thinking that it would only involve a brief train trip. I was wrong. My manager had pre-booked a bust ticket! That meant a journey of over three hours through the picturesque but isolated Cairngorms National Park.

The trip was lovely and the scenery stunning. Stirling merged into Perth then Perth into Pitlochry. As I sank into my bus seat, complete with curtained window and complimentary cup holder, I lost myself in the pages of a cheap paperback book. Occasionally, I would drift off and wake with my face sliding on the cold glass of the window.  But at some point, as the bus weaved its way through the craggy mountains, I realised that the dramatic landscape outside was quite devoid of civilisation. If anything happened to the coach party out there, no-one would ever know. Then, in the typically morbid spirit of any crime fiction fan, I considered how terrible it would be if anyone on that solitary bus was actually a killer. Glancing nervously around at my fellow commuters, I studied their faces for traces of psychopathy, and concluded that they all had potential (it was Scotland after all). I then hit on an even more worrying possibility. What if everyone on the bus, including the driver, were killers? It would be a mobile crime scene. And what if that bus picked up a na├»ve passenger who felt safe because there were plenty of other people on the bus with them?

The following day, I delivered an undoubtedly dreadful presentation to some poor bored souls. Then I packed up my rucksack and clambered back on a bus to Stirling. This time it was an evening journey and the rumbling bus slid through a shadowy landscape of jagged silhouettes. However, throughout this entire journey home, I purposely didn’t nod off and, even as I read the final pages of my novel, I kept one beady eye on the driver…just in case.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Welcome! The blog starts here.

 It is, I think, as good a place as any. Having spent a long time messing about with self indulgent fiction writing, I finally decided in 2015 to be a bit more grown up and to write something that people might actually want to read.
The previous summer I had visited a holiday villa which was generously stocked with a small library of paperbacks -one of which was a well thumbed copy of Echo Park. At the time, I had heard of but never read any Michael Connelly books, so I decided to give it a shot.
The experience of being immersed in  the world of a LA homicide detective was so enjoyable that I decided to visit that world on my own terms, with my own tour guide.
When I returned home, I sat down at the computer and created Leighton Jones. I knew the character, his back story - freshly retired - and his personality, but I wanted a case for him to investigate. And so I decided to play about with the seed of an idea that had been rattling around in my head for years. It involved an oblivious passenger climbing aboard a bus on which everyone else was a killer. That's what you get when you buy economy, right?  

The result was my first commercial thriller The Girl on the Bus, which will be published by Bloodhound Books in April 2017.