I’m moving away from standard creepy story material and venturing into social issues in my novel, a psychological thriller set in the north of England.
The marchers are getting closer…now they’re passing us, staring straight ahead at the main road cleared of traffic. Momentary silence as they pass. I spot Lenny and his mate Ken with a bunch of market traders, walking in unison, holding a collective banner: Chrissie. I don’t see Kaz Bradshaw from the trucker’s cafe, just loads of angry looking men and women, lips curled in snarls.
The marchers have passed, more have joined. There are thugs close by, standing on the opposite side of the road with dogs, friends of Chrissie Badgers and friends of theirs. The familiar Union Jack tattoos and St George flags. More police officers. The mood resonates with disharmony and hatred. Growling chants, racist comments. Someone’s to blame for Chrissie’s death, someone’s going to have it. Talk of bashings. Singing, jeering. Crying and weeping among the second batch of marchers, but entirely different to the sort I remember for Craig. More like screaming and rage. We mourned for Craig back then but we also respected him and we didn’t want to unsettle or frighten him as we laid him to rest.
The crowd in the Shopping City shift restlessly. People glance about and make eye contact, or avoid doing so altogether. But the chants and threats continue from all around – streets, Shopping City, the line of marchers that keeps increasing well above the original few
And Chrissie’s killer is somewhere close by, watching. I don’t know how I know, it I just do. I think of Mel and Robert, and I regret coming now. I return to my car and drive away. I can still hear the chanting and shouts.
A collage of shots I caught around London.
A shot I captured before today’s snow.
Still working on my second novel, a psychological thriller.
I stop off for coffee and a read of the papers, then head over to see Mel who works as a library assistant in the town of Stockton, about fifteen miles from historic Burrington. Stockton, by contrast, bears a strong resemblance to some of the New Towns I’ve seen in the past: a ring road flanked by soulless office blocks and factories, a sixties-built shopping precinct in the town centre, high rise flats with groups of hoodies on skateboards somersaulting through the air. As soon as I arrive in the town, I pick up on the unsettling atmosphere and lingering racial tensions between Whites and Asians. I dislike Stockton at once. All around, I see despair and boredom and poverty.
I’m currently working on the edit of a psychological thriller I wrote, telling the story in First Person to create a greater degree of psychological immediacy. I think it’s a case of a) paint the picture, b) move on, and c) don’t linger or get stuck in the words.
Here is another brief section from the novel. The context? Central character Alan has recently returned to his native Lancashire with his young son Robert, and has uncovered evidence regarding a crime in his past
We chat for a little while more, then Kaz has to get back to lunch preparation behind the counter, where Killing Me Softly, the original version, is playing on the radio. It’s quarter to twelve, and spitting with rain outside. I tell Kaz I’ll come back to see her, and make my way to the indoor market.
The market’s bustling with people and chatter. Smells of raw cauliflower from a fruit and veg stall. Fried chicken and vinegary chips. Low priced SIM cards and cheap watches. Anoraks and trainers. Handbags and purses. Eggs and cheeses and jars of honey. Eventually, I find the hoover man Lenny on his stall in the middle isle, gloved hands wrapped around a flask cup of tea. He’s aged around sixty and dressed in a quilted jacket.
I sense immediately that he and I have never met . I buy a hoover and cart it back to the car.