Autumn Rain: Hornsey, North London

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Hectic Times

A very busy couple of weeks. I’m polishing the remaining third of my second novel, a psychological thriller, and am waiting to hear back from an editor on the first, same genre.

Meanwhile, I gave a piano recital a couple of weeks ago with works by Chopin, Mozart and Liszt. Received more than £200.  Not bad going, but doesn’t compare with the hundreds/thousands some artists get. I’m currently working towards another recital and learning three of the Chopin nocturnes.

Not much time for photography.

The Second Novel: Increasing The Psychological Immediacy

In the past, I had some huge problems bringing scenes to life, particularly those introducing back story. Back story’s always tricky. The reader may need the background information, but often the reader will wish to remain in the present. 

Placing a section of writing in italics doesn’t necessarily help, as the change of font might come between the reader and the text. Also, some readers will hurry over passages in italics, missing bits the writer has worked hard on.

I think the solution could lie in having short sections dealing with the back story questions at the start of chapters and keeping to a simple tone for immediacy. 

The following is a brief snatch of one of the back story sections in my second novel, a psychological thriller introducing central character Alan Holmes, a former amateur rugby player who witnessed a murder when he was ten but has few recollections of the event.  In the past, I relied on the use of flashbacks, but these don’t always work.

They say I led the way up Whaley Hill, telling ghost stories as I steered my bike up the twisting path. That Gordon got angry at the top of the hill and stormed off in tears because Callum and Shane had upset him. I went after Gordon and brought him back to the reservoir. He wouldn’t stop crying, but I remember none of it.

For me, there was only confusion. Occasional glimpses of trees in the stillness while the sun beat down upon my head and the sweat poured down my face, onto my t-shirt. I think I took my t-shirt off, but I can’t be sure about that, as witnesses saw me with it on later.  

An NDE In Novel Writing?

Normally, I would say, “no way. Do not write about NDE’s in fiction under any conditions.”

However, I’ve searched my main character’s past and believe there are sufficient grounds for introducing one in his background following a near fatal accident the character had in his early twenties.  The central character is a tough guy, a former amateur rugby player, and somehow I feel that the experience will deepen his character.

NDE’s (Near-Death Experiences) can occur in a number of settings, often when a person comes close to death or when astronauts are training.  In some instances, a person may experience one during a faint.

Typically, the person “leaves” their body and observes scenes  from above.  Some people then travel down tunnels and/or encounter “spiritual” beings.”

Whether or not the person actually does leave their body is debatable. Mainstream scientists generally offer physical explanations. A small number of mainstream scientists, however, have suggested that consciousness as we understand it may not be totally reliant on the brain.  In other words, a person’s consciousness may literally separate from the body in certain circumstances.

Incredible stuff. Having read numerous accounts, I would say that some NDE’s sound like a mixture of buried memories whereas others are remarkable in the lucid recounting of details and the later clarification of events “observed”.

Here is a brief sample from my novel, a psychological thriller.

I get up and leave, shivering outside as I walk across the hospital front in the freezing rain, the northern winds biting at my fingers and face, the downpour reaching deep into my trainers and socks. It’s nearly half four in the afternoon, and already almost dark, more like late autumn or early winter.  An ambulance rushes into the front area of the hospital, lights flashing, and pulls to a halt by the entrance. For a while, I stand watching in a type of daze, remembering another time when an ambulance pulled up in the clearing at the bottom of Whaley Hill to take me to hospital after Vince Macarthur’s revenge attack on me. I was unconscious when that other ambulance arrived in the rain and fog, yet I remember it arriving and the female paramedic who treated me at the scene. I watched from far off, floating above myself before drifting into blackness; the thickest blackness interrupted by more floating in the hospital; seeing my mother and Mel in the hospital lobby with Wayne’s mother and father, even though I was lying on a hospital bed unconscious with my eyes shut. Then, blackness followed and no further memories.

In the distance, I hear voices above the commotion and sounds of the storm: Gordon and Barry calling my name, their voices like those interrupting a dream, yanking me back to the now.

‘You’re soaking, man,’ Barry says. ‘Want to catch pneumonia?’