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  • Writer's pictureJohn Watson

The Stories Behind the Words

When asked to describe my writing process, I say that it's a lot like painting by numbers. I get the idea, create an outline, and then add color by building on the premise. In order to create that color, I often draw upon traits of people I know, as well as my life experiences. I thought it might be fun to talk about some of those little personal details that made it into my 3 books.

Karaoke Night

I had the idea for this one, but I had no idea what songs to use. I asked my wife Penny to slowly read off a list of the top 100 most popular songs of all time. The ones that immediately put a little picture into my head went into a "maybe" pile that I eventually whittled down to the eleven that made the book. Tying them all together was the hard part. "This Flight Tonight" was the most personal of the bunch. My father had not long since passed, so I wanted to do a story about a special father/son relationship. It was tough to write at times, but it was my way of saying goodbye in a way that would live forever. As for the ending, that was pinched from a story I wrote years ago about a plane crash in a small. town. I grew up thinking that a plane had crashed close to my school when I was a kid, only to later find out that it was a simulation used to test the emergency services in my town. Glasgow Airport was very close by and our town was in the flight path of incoming planes. "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" was based on true events up where Penny grew up, although I added some additional violence to make it more my style.

Crueller The titular character in more me than anyone other. As I get older, I do start to think more about my eventual passing, and I worry about how my family will deal with that. I tried to make Edmund a real family man fighting to ensure that his wife and kids would be okay when his time came. While I didn't go into a ton of detail in the book, I have always wondered about the whole Jack the Ripper mystery and who he really was. I knew the filthy streets of Whitechapel were going to be the setting for the opening, so it made sense to work Jack in there.

Off The Grid

Ryan and Diana Richie are fictional characters, but they are named after people who have been very supportive of my short time in the publishing world. I do like to try and always make my female characters strong, so while this one may be Diana by name, she is Penny by nature. The relationship of the couple in OTG very much mirrors my own with my wife. The entrance that the original creature makes at the start of this one may read like something out of Alien, but it is much more personal than that. When my mother passed of Colon cancer years ago, it left me angry and in pain, feelings that still linger to this day. The creature represents that cancer and the damage that it eventually did to my other. The speed at which the creature grew in the belly was very much consistent with the time frame that my mother had to deal with. Another tough one to write, but cathartic. Penny does make a brief appearance in this one, albeit as a very southern caricature, although complete with a couple of her catchphrases.

I am not a fan of dream sequences, but the one that I put in OTG was used for a dual purpose. I was very sick with the flu at the time of writing and fast approaching my deadline to get the manuscript in. I was at a point where I thought the story was beginning to drag and I wanted a little pop of action. As I tried to come up with something, the fever pulled me into sleep, where I had a dream that appeared in the story basically as it was in my nightmare. I liked that the dream created a sense of urgency in Diana, as that was what I was feeling at that time with the deadline approaching.

Well, that's it for now. I hope you enjoyed a little look behind the curtain. I will do a blog post like this every two or three books so that you can get a few more insights into how my ideas develop.


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