Bristol is a place I know well. Even so, there are aspects of it I will never see – like the views enjoyed by riders of the beautiful balloons soaring above the city this morning during its annual Fiesta. Other authors, like
Irish crime thriller writer Gerard O’Donovan, describe Bristol in a way I hardly recognise. Are they wrong? Do you have to be a true-blue British Bristolian to get under the skin of the city? Not at all – it’s simply a matter of perspective. Our perceptions are filtered by our own experiences and expectations. There was an excellent article in today’s Observer about the impact of perspective on decision-making – well worth a read.
Getting inside a character’s head is essential as soon as the idea for a book emerges, but I admit I find it challenging when the character’s values and outlook on life are very different from my own. I needed to break for coffee, and even something stronger, after writing about Tony’s predatory approach to sex in Up In Smoke and Jeb’s sickening violence in The Bride’s Trail. It was worth it, though, to make them rounded and believable – people who readers will enjoy discovering, if not liking. Fiction brings insights into different worlds, and that’s surely one of the sweetest joys of reading.
Live fiction events are a great way to discover new writers and genres you might (perhaps to your surprise!) find yourself enjoying. If you’re in Bristol, check out Talking Tales on Monday 17th August, 7.30pm at the Left Bank. It’s free, it’s in hip Stokes Croft (“You’re more likely to get a latte than get mugged in Stokes Croft these days” I was told when queried the area’s edgy reputation) and a great night is guaranteed. I’m planning to read a new crime story – see you there!