K is for Killing

I remember my horror when I heard that JK had considered killing Harry Potter in the Deathly Hallows.  It felt like she was threatening to kill her son… more than that, it felt like she was threatening to kill mine.   There was a public outcry when Conan Doyle killed Sherlock Holmes, so big that he had to bring him back to life.  As writers, how much do we owe our readers?   They’re our stories to tell,  but when we’ve crafted a character and made everyone fall in love with them, are we allowed to kill them?  Doesn’t it seem like some gross act of betrayal?HOLMES040

As a writer, I tend to get emotionally attached to my characters and the thought of killing them fills me with dread.  Yet I know that a story full of danger and darkness will have its casualties.  I can’t write a story like that in which nobody is killed, because in a story like that, someone is bound to get killed. When I was writing Runners, my editor friend said straight away: ‘Right, which character is going to die?’  To her, it’s a given that you need to kill someone, and that it should be someone significant.  If I was writing crime, of course, it would be much easier.  I’d just get the murder out of the way on the first page.  But I don’t write crime, I write stories for young adults, and emotional ones at that (at least I think they are when I cry at the laptop).   As much as I love my characters, though, I know that I have to subject them, in some part, to the risks that people in the real world face.  Unless I make them immortal, then they can be hurt and killed, just like the rest of us.  They feel like my kids, though, and I want to protect them like I do my own kids.

So, did I kill anyone in Runners?  Maybe…

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Desert Island Books

A little while ago, fellow Indie author Clare Davidson interviewed me and asked for ten desert island books.  I thought I would share five of them again here, just because I can.  You never know, I might share the other five with you tomorrow…

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The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

I LOVE this book. I’m always telling people how much I love it. Set in England against World War II, it follows the progress of teenager David, who has just lost his mother to cancer.  Shortly afterwards his father meets another woman and a relationship blossoms, one that David finds it hard to accept.  What follows seemingly sets up as a tale of familial conflict, but soon takes the reader by complete surprise. Fleeing an argument, David finds himself trapped behind a wall as a plane crashes in his garden and the only escape is a portal to world of every fairy tale he has ever been told by his mother.  This book makes me cry.  A lot.

Harry Potter by J K Rowling

Sorry, this one is a cheat, as I have to take all seven books.  I’m not even going to bother going over the tale of The Chosen One because unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last twelve years, you’ll already be as obsessed with it as I am.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson has such a lively, inquisitive mind and his writing is so funny that even if you’re not remotely interested in what a quark is (but I don’t mind admitting that I am) you’ll still love this book.  An engaging, refreshing take on what makes our world tick.

An Utterly Impartial History of Britain by John O’Farrell

Another funny one, because by now I’m so sick of coconuts and watching for ships that I’ll need a good laugh.  John O’Farrell’s hilarious account of what made Britain the place it is today is full of lines like this:

410: Goths overrun Western Roman Empire. Romans forced to wear black and listen to Marilyn Manson.

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

This is the story of Merlin as a boy, and quite clearly the inspiration for the BBC show.  There’s a whole series of these books, following Merlin into his adult life and chronicling his role in Arthur’s birth and the building of Camelot, but this book is my favourite and easy enough to read alone.  Merlin starts as a real underdog, an outsider child manipulated by the adults that are supposed to care for him, and you’re desperate to see him come into his power.  It doesn’t always go to plan, but that just makes it a more interesting read.