Last night I headed over to Topping Books in Bath for the launch of The Dead Tracks, the new novel from my former colleague at Future, Tim Weaver. The Dead Tracks is Tim’s second book in the David Raker series. As a point of difference from other crime fiction, Raker isn’t a cop, or even an ex-cop – he’s a journalist-turned-missing person investigator.
As well as reading the first chapter of The Dead Tracks, Tim gave a short talk about how the experience of writing The Dead Tracks differed from his first novel, Chasing the Dead. It’s always interesting hearing authors talk about how they write. Chasing the Dead apparently took Tim 10 years to get right, sending in to agents and publishers, making corrections and collecting rejection letters. Then, after selling Chasing the Dead to Penguin, Tim faced the prospect of writing a sequel in just 12 months. To do so, he constructed a 20-page plan which he largely followed right to the last page of his first draft. When he got to the end of the plan, he remembers “sitting back and basking in the glory of completing my second book.” And then he realised that it wasn’t actually finished. The characters and plot had more in them and there was another ending, one that surprised even the author.
I’m looking forward to finding out what that ending is. The Dead Tracks has jumped to the top of my ‘to read’ pile and will be consumed after I finish Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London.
Listening to Tim also made me think about how I write and how characters and plot develop from the original outline. At the moment, I’m working on a short story which is proving much harder than I expected. The basic concept is solid, but the denouncement is decidedly dodgy. Here’s hoping my lead character takes on a life of her own and leads me to a satisfying conclusion.
Find out more about Tim at his website, www.timweaverbooks.com.
As a postscript, today the sad news has broken that Nicholas Courtney – the Brigadier from Doctor Who – has passed away. I only met Nicholas once, but he seemed a good-humoured gentleman, full of life and tall tales. He was also a much under-rated actor in my opinion, the perfect foil in Doctor Who and a man who could give wonderfully subtle performances. SFX has republished a fantastic little interview with the great man as a tribute. RIP Brig.