Nick Louth joins me today to tell us about Deadlines for the Dead on The Body on the Shore Blog Tour
A killer is at work in the supposedly-safe commuter belt. DCI Gillard needs answers, fast…
Promising architect Peter Young is shot dead at his desk. DCI Craig Gillard is quickly on the scene, looking at what appears to be a brutal and highly professional hit: two bullets, fired with ice-cold calm.
Gillard knows that the most crucial question in solving the crime is one word: Why? Two weeks later, on the Lincolnshire coast, another body is found on a windswept beach. In this case there is no identity for the young man, just a curious brand burned into his neck….
As the mystery deepens Gillard is plunged into a case without answers, finding himself up against dark forces, people who believe in only two things: blood and a warped code of honour. This time lives are on the line, children’s lives – and his own.
Written at breakneck pace with a jaw-dropping twist you won’t see coming, the suspense-filled second DCI Gillard crime thriller is perfect for fans of Robert Bryndza, Patricia Gibney and Faith Martin.
Deadlines for the Dead
It normally takes me a year or two to write a thriller, but after the success of The Body in the Marsh, my publishers Canelo at the end of March this year offered me a two-book deal for further installments in the DCI Gillard crime thriller series. Fantastic news, except for the first deadline: August 1. Starting with a blank page, that left me just four months to devise, write and edit the work before handing it over. Fortunately, I had a very clear idea of the book I wanted to write, and had almost the entire plot in my head. All I needed to do, was to get it down. Simple, right? I had recently started using voice recognition software, and found this was a real boon for the first draft of any novel. Just speaking into my computer, and the words would magically appear on the screen – though the software often seemed to misunderstand what I was saying. It was particularly good, however, for dialogue, because reading it out loud soon gives you an idea of the cadences and phrasing that define a particular character. I found I was able to move from the more normal 1,000 words a day to at least 2,000 and sometimes double that. When I first start fleshing out my initial ideas into a first draft I work seven days a week, not long hours, just so long as I reach an acceptable tally. If instead I take a day or two off, getting back into the intricacies of the plot can take a day or longer. I just didn’t have time for that. To my own surprise, I finished the first draft – 95,000 words – in ten weeks flat, and was able to present the finished manuscript to Canelo a week early.
The basic plot of The Body on the Shore came to me during a month-long research trip to Albania, when by sheer luck I witnessed the funeral of the head of a powerful crime family. I got hold of some Albanian newspapers online which described in considerable this frightening man and the power of his family, and I soon realised that this would make an unusual core to a thriller. While there has been no end of mafia thrillers, the only ones I could find with Albanian gangland characters involved their activities in other countries, rather than Albania itself. What happens inside this fascinating country seems almost untouched as a fictional thriller backdrop, at least in English. It thus became an opportunity to present some Albanian history too – not just the better known post-war history under the dictator Enver Hoxha, but the chaos and civil war that followed in the 1990s. With that germ of an idea, the real work, the building of the plot began. As always for me, it seems to happen in my subsconscious, just as I’m waking up in the morning. There were conscious decisions too, of course. In the Body in the Marsh, I created a detailed forensic background for a complex murder, but though no one seemed to work out ‘how’ the plot was conceived, quite few guessed the ‘who’. I needed to do better. With the Body on the Shore I decided to build in a truly staggering yet believable twist, which required some sustained misdirection. To make this work, I needed to mercilessly manipulate readers’ natural empathy. Only the reader can tell me whether I have succeeded.
Author Bio: Nick Louth is a best-selling thriller writer, award-winning financial journalist and an investment commentator. A 1979 graduate of the London School of Economics, he went on to become a Reuters foreign correspondent in 1987. It was an experience at a medical conference in Amsterdam in 1992, while working for Reuters, that gave him the inspiration for Bite, which was self-published in 2007 and went on to become the UK No. 1 Kindle best-seller for several weeks in 2014 before being snapped up by Sphere. It has sold a third of a million copies, and been translated into six languages.
Freelance since 1998, he has been a regular contributor to the Financial Times, Investors Chronicle and Money Observer, and has published seven other books. Nick Louth is married and lives in Lincolnshire.
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