11 May 2015

Guest Post ~ Turning-Point, by Calvin Hedley

Matthew Pelham’s disappearance, while flying an RAF Harrier, can only
be explained through investigations conducted some forty years apart.
The quest involves wartime intelligence services, high politics in the
Third Reich and beleaguered Britain, and has incalculable implications
for the war’s course and future events.

Available on Kindle at Amazon US and Amazon UK
also in paperback

Turning-Point derives from my abiding love of history, but the novel also reflects my preference for character-driven stories.  Plots containing, and themes surrounding, good characters constitute the ‘best’ stories.  This is reflected in Hollywood.  It’s the thought-provoking, character-driven movies that take the plaudits; thrills-and-spills blockbusters triumph relatively infrequently, and their popularity often proves more ephemeral.

History’s an intricate, colourful, thrilling, terrifying, white-knuckle ride.  Time without number, history throws up unanswered mysteries, those puzzles of who? How? and why? that, happily for novelists, readily lend themselves to interpretation and invention.  Turning-Point focuses on one such instance — a tactical shift that proved greatly significant during the Battle of Britain.  The novel’s characters, provided with backdrops of momentous events, find themselves battling with situations to challenge their fundamental beliefs and understanding.  I use the term ‘find themselves’ because this taps into another element of storytelling. 

My preference is for plot lines whereby the characters are drawn into the story ‘by accident’.  This is to say a character’s plight, no matter how extraordinary, could befall any of us.  From a novelist’s perspective, this provides in-built bewilderment, struggle, and conflict — obstacles far more daunting to the person going about his/her usual business than to those superhumans contrived by an author to just happen to be martial arts experts, military heroes, or Olympic athletes.  For me, it’s better to work with characters limited by relative ‘ordinariness’ than to have the convenient get-out clause of providing superabundant skills, strengths, wits, and so on.

History also provides those ‘real’ people who were the movers, shakers, and poor bloody foot-soldiers of the past.  Their experiences were often stranger than fiction, and I like to salt my stories with them.  This ‘faction’ element provides another insight into past events, but for the novelist it offers more.  Often, analysing events indicates, for example, a particular conversation must have occurred, but the actual words exchanged remain unknown.  Never mind — the novelist can put the essence of the exchange into their mouths, and what is better still, can introduce dramatic elements too.

Of all the eras in history, I find the Third Reich one of the most fascinating and puzzling.  The entire Wagnerian world of operatic excess in Germany at that time becomes more incredible the closer one looks.  Yet, it’s too easy to distance oneself from Nazism and all its works by claiming some kind of substantial difference pertaining then that disqualifies any repetition occurring now.  That comfort blanket is diaphanously thin.  When considering a political system so obsessed with the spurious notion of Arian legitimacy, so obsessed in fact that one of the Nazis’ legitimising committees concluded Hitler to be blond-haired, a patent nonsense, it’s too easy to dismiss it as crackpot folly.  Hitlerism was far more fundamental than that.

How a story’s told is crucial.  Bad storytelling fails.  I chose a split-time structure to ensure that only the reader discovers the whole puzzle.  My characters, through investigating a mystery separating them by some forty years, discover what they can.  This is the usual run in life.

Calvin Hedley
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About the Author

Calvin Hedley has been partially sighted since birth and became registered blind in 1982. He lost all useful sight in 1997 yet continues to pursue his writing career. Calvin read History and Politics at Warwick
University and lives in Coventry with his wife Denise.  Find out more at Cakvin's Facebook page.

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