Good afternoon. Today I am sharing with you a Guest Post as part of the Blog Blitz for Never Rest by Jon Richter. Thank you to Sarah Hardy and Bloodhound Books for inviting me. #neverrest #blogblitz #crimefiction @bloodhoundbook
NEVER REST by Jon Richter
Chris Sigurdsson has left the police force to start his own detective agency in London. He and his assistant, Priya, have built a strong reputation, and their casebook for the coming months is full. But Sigurdsson’s mind drifts back to his time as a Detective Inspector, and to the surreal week he spent investigating a case on Salvation Island.
When the estranged wife of David Lithgow, a writer who had been working on the island, approaches him to help locate her missing spouse, he cannot resist the allure of that sinister, mist-shrouded place…
The case leads him back to Salvation Island and into a treacherous labyrinth of deceit.
Is there a link between the mysterious proprietor of a travelling freak show and the malevolent spectre of a vicious serial murderer who butchered six young women on the island?
Has the killer continued his murderous spree from beyond the grave, or is there a copycat on the loose?
To solve this case, Sigurdsson will need to enter the mind of a sadistic serial killer and unravel the island’s darkest secrets. And if he wants to survive, he must confront his deepest fears.
#GuestPost – Inspirations for Never Rest
My second novel, Never Rest, which will be released at the end of March, is probably best described as a dark, weird thriller. I set out to write something ‘unfiltered’, by which I mean that if I had an idea I liked I would just chuck it in there, regardless of whether it ‘fit’, and let the story emerge from this sinister broth – so the plan was a lot less structured than my usual approach. I’m really happy with the end result, and I really hope readers enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed writing it!
For this blog post, I thought I would touch on some of the influences that helped to shape me and my writing style and provided the inspiration for some of that miscellany of dark ‘ingredients’. If you’ve already had the pleasure of sampling these delights, then perhaps this will motivate you to revisit them… or at the very least bring a nostalgic smile to your face. And If you’ve never checked them out then I am extremely envious, because a huge treat awaits you!
A theme that I have always loved and have certainly explored in my book is that of the ‘journey to a mysterious, backwoods location’… there are countless examples of this in fiction, and when it is done well it is my absolute favourite basis for a story. The paranoid outsider finds themselves in unfamiliar surroundings, the locals either openly hostile or, perhaps, disconcertingly welcoming… it grants a writer an excellent opportunity to craft a memorable setting, and provides an intriguing mystery to solve, which might either become the main plot, or run parallel to it.
The greatest example I can think of is undoubtedly Twin Peaks, a programme that I missed the first time around (I was only seven when it first aired) but got into in a big way about five years ago. Here the ‘stranger in a strange town’ formula is slightly tinkered with, because far from being an ‘everyman’ and thereby a cypher for the audience, the stranger in this case is, himself, a bizarre and intriguing individual. Kyle MacLachlan’s portrayal of eccentric FBI agent Dale Cooper remains one of my all-time favourite acting performances, and he deserves to be showered with awards for his efforts in reprising the role in the recent third season. But the real star of that show was the town of Twin Peaks itself, the idyllic rural paradise with a dark underbelly of crime, corruption and terrifying paranormal horror… no one has made anything quite like it ever since. Whenever a new TV show appears that follows this formula I usually gobble it up immediately, and although I’ve recently enjoyed Fortitude and Wayward Pines, I don’t think Twin Peaks will ever be bettered.
From TV to movies, and we see the same theme cropping up in countless classics, everything from The Wicker Man to The Blair Witch Project. My favourite movie and a fascinating twist on this concept is Memento, where Guy Pearce plays a man cursed with short term memory loss, trying to piece together the mystery of his wife’s murder. He finds himself in an unfamiliar town full of compelling characters, the film utilising an ingenious storytelling device to keep the reader as unaware of his recent actions as the protagonist himself. A sense of dread permeates all of these pieces, gnawing away at the viewer’s resolve, laying their heart bare just in time for the final, haunting plot twist.
I have been an avid video gamer since I was very young, and a lot of my inspiration also comes from that world. I’ve written blog posts in the past about how underrated video games are as a storytelling medium, their inherent interactivity making them capable of telling unique tales that place the player right at the heart of the plot, either able to influence it directly or at least given the illusion that they can (try Bioshock for the ultimate exploration of free will in gaming as a plot device…) and ensuring that you feel the story’s events as though they were happening to you personally. My favourite video game of all time is Silent Hill (and its three sequels before the original development team was disbanded), a story once again centred on a remote, desolate and chilling location. Imagine Twin Peaks if every last shred of humour was surgically extracted and replaced with disturbing organic art, and you’d still be miles away from the experience that these games offer.
In literature, there are again many fantastic settings to choose from, but the two I’ll explore here may at first seem very different.
HP Lovecraft, whose despicable racism should not be ignored, nevertheless remains one of the most influential writers in horror, and someone whose works I ploughed through relatively recently. They are not uniformly well-written or gripping, but some of his ideas were genuinely visionary, his tales encompassing other universes and alien beings while other writers of his time were still mired in predictable ghost stories. But if you were inclined to investigate just one of his works, please do read The Shadow Over Innsmouth. It is nothing short of a masterpiece, again the tale of a character caught in a sinister place, the setting captured perfectly – I can smell the rotting fish odour drifting in from the sea even as I write about it!
Another of my big inspirations is the work of Lee Child, who writes the Jack Reacher novels. Although his books have, I fear, now become something of a self-parody, a character whose adventures have outstayed their welcome and spawned two mediocre Tom Cruise movies, there is still much to enjoy in the earlier novels. The gritty action set pieces are bone-crunchingly effective, and I have definitely tried to recreate the pacing of these stories – an investigation that progresses slowly, meticulously, riddled with red herrings and wrong turns, only to suddenly explode into brutally violent life. The very first Jack Reacher novel is called Killing Floor and features Reacher – then an unknown hero, of course – venturing into a mysterious town called Margrave, where he unearths a criminal conspiracy in a mesmerising work of fiction. Highly recommended, certainly for anyone who might have written off the series as mainstream trash.
Phew – that’s about enough for now I think! I’m sure I’ve missed some big touchstones, but anyone who is as excited as I am about tales of unsuspecting protagonists finding adventure in enigmatic locales could do worse than check out the titles I’ve mentioned above. If anyone has any similar suggestions, please don’t hesitate to send them my way @RichterWrites – they will be gratefully received!
Jon Richter lives in London and spends most of his time hiding in the guise of his sinister alter ego, an accountant called Dave. When he isn’t counting beans, he is a self-confessed nerd who loves books, films and video games – basically any way to tell a good story. Jon writes whenever he can and hopes to bring you more dark tales in the very near future. If you want to chat to him about this, or about anything at all, you can find him on Twitter @RichterWrites; he’d also love it if you would check out his website at: