Thursday, 28 March 2019

Inspiration for Temptation

Hall of Mirrors at Southport
The idea for Temptation, my first novel, came about unexpectedly. I was in Southport, a seaside town in Northern England, when I decided to walk into a small Hall of Mirrors. I hadn't been in one since I was a child and for the couple of minutes it took to walk around the tiny hall I was transported back to my childhood memories then, something odd happened. Although my physical image was altered grotesquely I had a distinct feeling that the person inside I was looking at was an alternative self, the self I may have been if my life had turned in a different direction. It was an unsettling yet exhilarating feeling and I wanted to explore it so I made some initial notes about it.

Littleborough, Lancashire
When I returned to my home at Littleborough I passed this sign and remembered the first few months after moving here and how it used to be, an old mill town situated at the western slopes of the UK South Pennines. It had a population of 3,400, most of whom had been born and raised within the sound of church bells. Now? add another 10k to the population and it will grow considerably over the coming few years. New housing estates are sprawled across land that was once lush and green. Roads are jammed with cars. The hills and moors still surround the town centre but for how much longer?

St. Barnabas church, Littleborough - as seen through the cyclists gate

The Littleborough I know became a rich source of inspiration and a walk to my local church, St. Barnabas provided the final push for the ideas that were consuming me. While listening to the vicar struggle with a concept he was trying out on his elderly congregation I was reminded of the priests I grew up with and their often contradictory behaviours. My first character was born, the Reverend Jacob Alecks. I began to assemble my experiences and knowledge of the people I grew up with and project how they would cope today. What if one of them was overwhelmed, too young to cope and about to explode?
The gravel path, St. Barnabas, a scene for Chapter 1 of Temptation
Before the birth of a new character I had to create the death of another and I used experience to help me. This is the gravel path where another of my characters, Cory Farris, a young boy, witnessed his father's death. He would become the thorn in the Reverend Aleck's side. I now had two strong characters I could form a story around and all the time I would have that Hall of Mirrors in mind.
Temptation - saint or sinner?

Far from being a horned beast, my devil is the ordinary man or woman. Will he/she be a saint or a sinner? I took the following photos myself. A few tricks of the eye can bring about a surprising result much like that Hall of Mirrors.

A public breakdown - Temptation
I had to push my Reverend Alecks and all the characters around him to their limits in order for them to experience their own Hall of Mirrors. I won't go into all their individual trials and tribulations here, you will have to read Temptation but my Reverend Alecks had the raw end of the deal. He had to experience a public breakdown in order to face his devil and do battle. My experience of comedy clubs in the eighties came into its own. I knew what it was like when the person on the stage loses it and how the audience reacts. There were greater themes on Reverend Alecks' mind than a knock-knock joke or topical witticism about sex or politics.
A choice to make or be made? - Temptation

He then had a choice to make or, was it made for him? That would become apparent in my next novel Star Keeper, which delved deeper and then entered a word of death, manipulation and sordid scandal.

Temptation is a book from the heart and soul. It is the first step to a much darker world and my characters walk a thin line. My experience in Littleborough provided me with enough material to create a further novel and then....another but by then I had decided to fully enter a world of evil, explore and see what came out. Crushing Curiosity, my third novel did. It isn't light reading although there is dark humour throughout.

What's next - wait and see!


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