In the aftermath of a terrorist attack Neil is given the chance to serve his country by serving up revenge. He soon becomes England's premier spy and assassin. As a man he was unpleasant, dangerous and of little use. As a cyborg he is unpleasant, very dangerous and extremely useful. His suicide missions fit his strengths and his weaknesses. He exacts vengeance, kills without mercy, then destroys the evidence by destroying his temporary body. The aftermath is someone else's problem.
So after the obligatory warning, on to the big question. How did I come to write 76,000 words about a psychopath who kills and then destroys his temporary body?
First, there was the idea
Terry Pratchett described inspiration as some sort of high energy particle, with the human mind as detector. But for me its almost organic process. A seed finds a fertile spot and grows into something mighty. Sometimes the result is perfect and people call it “wonderful writing and compulsive reading” for others the cry is “quick! Burn it with fire”. For “Walk In The Flesh” the jury is still out
But the specific seed for my book was a scene in the 1966 film Arabesque where our heroes are being chased through a junkyard, and The Bad Guy ™ is trying to kill them with a crane and wrecking ball
In retrospect this is like trying to kill flies by throwing refrigerators at them, but at the tender age of 10 (yes, I really am that old) it was a very powerful image. Even now I can remember the scream of the crane as it drew the ball back for another shot, the implacable unfairness of man vs. machine that I later recognised in the film “The Terminator” (some people claim there have been sequels to that film – they lie)
But the seed itself was nothing. Our heroes escaped and most of the cast lived happily ever after. The seed really took root when I wondered – what if the wrecking ball had not missed? The answer that it would have been a very short film was unsatisfactory, there had to be more. But how could there more after a body had been turned into a thin paste? What emotion could be strong enough to make the need to carry on stronger than the pain of death? But answering those questions only raised others. Because on its own ‘need’ is just nice fluffy dreams, to turn dreams into reality would require some very expensive technology, and as Stlson one said – nothing in life is free. The people that gave the tech with one hand would want tenfold back with the other – and the only stick they had to control their creation was the promise of more death, more revenge.
Which raises an interesting question. If someone does terrible things, does it make those things any less terrible because we understand why?
How I wrote the book
The temptation is to say ‘one word at a time’ (I did say I’m English?) but the real answer is through a mixture of ignorance and arrogance. I started at chapter one, with "The Mutaween’s neck broke with a wet crack.' And wrote, and wrote every day. Some days a lot of words, sometimes not so many. Birthdays, Christmas Day, all of those. July 2013 I fell and broke my arm (so badly I was still having operations six months later) some of the pain descriptions from that time came in useful.
I hasten to add that my dreams were not of avarice beyond the dreams of man (but a little avarice would be nice). I think it was Stephen King that said writing a book was like carrying a heavy weight, and every word on the page lessened that load a little. Well I felt I was the proverbial 97-pound weakling carrying Charles Atlas.
In retrospect writing the book was like deciding to row from England to New York with no more idea than NYC was a big city over there, and that paddles went in the water. The big plus I had was that I knew what each chapter had to do. I had an exact picture of the book in my mind – all I needed to do was get it down on paper.
Never before in the field of creativity have three letters meant so much. Because first I had to learn to write. Then I had to write the book. The short stories I’ve had printed just showed me which way to go. From there, I was on my own.
What did I do when I finished writing? Edit, edit, and more edit. Then professional edit and finally submission. I know many people choose the self-publishing route, but I wanted somebody who knew what they were doing and Barbarian Books rode to my rescue.
So as Bill Paxton once famously said is this is. “Game over man – game over” not quite, not even close. Because now I get the chance to share my nightmares with you. This is just the beginning.
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About the Author