It’s a pleasure having both Pete Adams and his famous hat back on my blog again. I recently asked Pete where he was going with his writing and after seeking some good advice from his hat (it talks you know and is a real hatleman) he, or rather they, came up with an answer.
Kind Hearts and Martinets
“There is no limit to my creative ability, provided I am not required to be coherent”
Someone said that, didn’t they, not sure who…was it me?
Sonya Alford, your inquiry for an update on my writing is opportune. Although book 4 of the Kind Hearts and Martinets series, Ghost and Ragman Roll, is only recently published, you are correct that all the originally planned 8 books have been completed. You ask good questions, astutely probing:
So, what is next? Is it hard to start something new after living with Kind Hearts for so long? Where do you go when you have written a long series over an extended length of time? Do you look to the supporting characters, who over time, have developed, and maybe deserve a leading part of their own? I love a series, and love also spin-offs, where a new book might relate to characters and storyline extensions. So, what of:
An author is aware when readers like to hear what happens to the people who have populated the books they have enjoyed. The difficulty, if there is one, is when some of the characters have become so popular, the reader demanding more, coinciding with a writer wanting to move onto pastures new. I often think this of authors who have a long running series with a detective or a detective pairing; how do they cope?
A Publisher likes to have a series that readers can become wedded to. It means they will buy the next book. I believe that the reading public are intelligent beings and do not want to be spoon fed a diet of more of the same. Characters can be taken on, maybe in different directions, provided there is a satisfactory coherence, and the storyline extensions are in context and believable.
…and You, the Writer?
As an author I like to explore different characters, and often find they can drive a new narrative. I worry about becoming stale. I love it when I fall upon a new storyline and direction, with or without established characters. Balancing that with demand from my Publisher and my readers, now, that is a different matter.
Your Advisors, do you have any?
Yes, and lately I have been quiet, but not inactive. After nearly nine years writing, I have made good friends, and acquired positive critical colleagues and advisors who I will listen to, even if sometimes their probing is uncomfortable. I have completed eight books in the Kind Hearts and Martinets series, books 5 to 8 awaiting publication. However, following up on often insightful suggestions, and thinking long and hard, I have distilled a new direction I want to take. I intend to create a line of books that will develop into 3 separate (new) series:
Book 5 – Merde and Mandarins, when published next year, will be the final book in the Kind Hearts and Martinets series. There is a natural conclusion, but, as in life, it opens up new directions and opportunities to be seized.
Over the past few months I have been rewriting books 6 to 8, and they are now adapted to the future I am striving toward. These books will form the start of two separate series, albeit there are extensions and linking references back to the narratives in Kind Hearts, and some of the previously secondary characters take on a life of their own. Having said that, the central protagonists in Kind Hearts have become very popular, and appropriately, they will continue in another of the series, retiring from the police to form, DaDa, an eccentric Detective Agency. The character of Jack (Jane) Austin is just so radically fluid, if that is not an adumbration, the emphasis on the dumb, and so long as he continues to be expertly steered by his intelligent wife Amanda, he opens up so many possibilities for real and surreal narratives, much as I believe life is, if only we would stop to look.
The fascination of Dadaism? It was an arts movement that flouted the conventional by producing works marked by incongruity. For me, in this series, it is about writing books with an idiosyncratic narrative, but with a grounded underlying concept, albeit it may appear at first skewed, there is a rational intendment, and, a significant ending.
Picasso said, “Everything you can imagine is real”, and that is the joy of the DaDa books, in the writing, and, I suggest, will be in the reading.
The Dada Detective Agency books:
Book 1 – The Duchess of Frisian Tun, writing as my female pseudonym, Susan Narmee, is a pivotal novel that embraces Kind Hearts as well as setting the scene for the subsequent Dada books. New characters join Jack (Jane) Austin, and his wife Amanda. The story, with a World War 2 twist, is loosely, though lavishly, based upon the Canterbury Tales, except the characters go nowhere, the story set principally in one room in a house on Frisian Tun:
An au courant, romantic comedy, crime thriller. A droll and saucy insight into the Middle Class, Haute Monde, and Geography. Tales of a reclusive England with: The Journalist, The Professor, The Synchronised Swimming Instructor, The Fish Wife, The Dame, The Actress (really Jack Austin), The Geography Teacher, The Gossip Columnist, The Spy, The Police Inspector, The Man from the Council, The Priest, The Knight, The Super-grass (deceased), The Gangster, and, The Lady Blanche.
I see this also as a script that can readily become a stage play, something I would love to see.
Book 2 – Umble Pie – the Nun’s Orchestra, continues the genre, crime thrillers with an idiosyncratic narrative, the generative concept being Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. A spiraling, intertwined DNA of a real and surreal plot that exposes a conspiracy within a spate of sacrificial religious murders, featuring, the Vatican Intelligence Agency, The Pope with his parrot Claudio, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Numpti of Cairo, and, heaven forefend, The Holy Barbaras. And what of Dada, rescuer, narrator, or maybe instigator? This novel establishes progressive new characters and storyline threads for future DaDa novels.
Book 3 – currently in my head and will NOT keep quiet:
DaDa and the Man from the Council.
Series 2: The Rhubarb Papers – Nakka of the Yard.
Rhubarb in the Mammon – is a crime thriller that picks up a popular secondary character from Kind Hearts, a Priest, who subtly steers this, the first book in the Rhubarb Papers series, that ranges from Portsmouth, and firmly places itself in London, where the series will be based.
An inept grandfather becomes a recluse in Portsmouth, to protect his granddaughter, Juliet; his wife, daughter and her husband, killed in a London car bomb ten years ago, a bomb that permanently disfigured his granddaughter. Juliet grows into a precocious 16 year old, and with her boyfriend, they stir a hornet’s nest when she tries to find out what really happened to her parents and Nan. A Scotland Yard Detective Inspector, landed with the old case notes, visits Nakka and his granddaughter in Portsmouth. Juliet’s unofficial, mysterious, back door inquiry, has been flagged at the Yard, opening a can of deadly worms thought buried; multiple murder, conspiracy, a corruption riddled Met Police, linked, tenuously at first, to an Establishment Bank in the City of London.
The second book in the Rhubarb Papers series has the working title:
A Misanthrope’s Toll – Wigs on the Green.
Series 3: Completely new, will be a saga, from 1966 to modern day.
Book 9, Larkin’s Barkin’, A Midsummer Night’s Chutzpah, is written, and is completely different to my other books. It is a sober, dark, crime thriller, set in 1966, East End of London. Two family gangs, a woman police detective sergeant, a Palestinian Doctor, and a mysterious Irish detective inspector, who turns out to be looking to disrupt a planned IRA campaign in London. The link, a ceaselessly bullied and abused runt of a schoolboy, Chas Larkin, who through his experiences, and love of Roisin Dubh, the Black Rose, discovers his chutzpah, and asserts himself in a most unusual way, with unpredictable results.
This book stirred my emotions during the writing, often causing me to question where the story came from, it not having the light touch, of my previous books. It introduces a number of characters, both sides of the law and order divide, and gives the reader an insight into their personalities and circumstances. I see this opening up a long series of novels, with swings in character focus, that will eventually take us to modern day. A saga, following two families, The Larkins and Saints, The Police, MI5, the clergy, as they lose their grip on the hearts and minds, and a multitude of East End of London characters popping in and out, and their reaction to the politics and news of the day.
The tenth book and sequel, Flummery, A Syncopated Palaver, is underway, and we are in 1969 (the first IRA bomb in London was 1970).
And what of the Black Rose, I hear you ask, myth or reality? Wikipedia describes a Black Rose: “The symbolism in many works of fiction usually contrives feelings of mystery, danger, or some sort of darker emotion, like sorrow and obsessive love.” Now what is there not to like about that?
How will these new series progress to Publication? You are a prolific writer, what else is there?
I would like to see my self-published first two books of Kind Hearts and Martinets, brought out by my Publisher with coordinated covers to go with the series (I love the Urbane designed covers). The first book, Cause and Effect, was originally titled Kind Hearts and Martinets, and I would revert to that. Then, book 5, Merde and Mandarins, published to conclude the story and set the platform for the future divergent series of books. However, all this will depend largely on the Publisher, but the books being all written, offers a tantalising next few years, and not unusually, I find myself in the hands of others, while I teeter on the precipice.
In the meantime, I just write. Outside my novels, my short story collection is growing, and I have written and illustrated 3 Whopping Tales. I would like to find a Publisher for them, and as you can see, things are moving along nicely at the gym:
‘Cause & Effect’ (Kind Hearts and Martinets Book 1) can be purchased from Amazon UK:-
‘Irony in the Soul’ (Kind Hearts and Martinets Book 2) can be purchased from Amazon UK:-
‘A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza’ (Kind Hearts and Martinets Book 3) can be purchased from:-
Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/a-barrow-boys-cadenza/
‘Ghost and Ragman Roll’ (Kind Hearts and Martinets Book 4) can be purchased from Amazon UK:-
Pete and his hat can be found on Twitter – @Peteadams8