That’s what I should say when people ask me where the idea for Broken Skin came from, but I don’t. I’ve got a pat answer about how I wanted to write a book with John Rickards in it so I could take the piss out of him. And what better way to do that than have him be a police constable with a thing for bondage and the nickname ‘Spanky’?
But if I’m being brutally honest, I haven’t got a sodding clue where this one came from. Yes there were some little snippets that had been lurking about in the dusty corners of my brain for years, but nothing that explains what actually ended up on the bookshop shelves.
And the weird thing is that this is the book I spent the most time planning. This was not one of my three scribbles on a napkin, wing and a prayer efforts. I pitched Dying Light to my editors at a drunken bash in the HarperCollins offices (or at least it was drunken for me, everyone else had work to do, but I didn’t: Wheeeeeee!) “Iss… isss about drugs and dogs an’… an’… yeah, I’d love some more champagne… iss… where was I?” But not Broken Skin. No, for that one I went all professional and produced a detailed point-by-point plan from start to finish.
The only problem being that the book I turned in bore only a superficial resemblance to the one I said I was going to write. Somewhere along the way (page three I think) it all went different, and my carefully laid plans ganged aft aglay, faster than you could shake a mouse. Rodenty little bastards that they are.
I suppose I could blame the research: speaking to people involved in the bondage scene was an eye-opener, and a lot of stuff that ended up in the book would never have been there otherwise. Or I could blame a crappy year – three bouts of surgery involving someone clambering up my nose with a pointy knife – or I could blame the Inspiration Fairy for dragging my poor pain-killer-addled brain in strange directions. Did I mention that they drilled holes in my skull?
Or maybe it’s a case of breaking all the rules? They say in crime fiction you should never kill children (did that in Cold Granite), you should never kill pets (dismembered a Labrador in Dying Light), but most of all you should never, EVER talk about sex. Or people will assume you’re into whatever your characters get up to between their rubber sheets. Which given the onscreen antics in Broken Skin isn’t exactly the recipe for a quiet life…
But in the end I honestly have no idea where anything in Broken Skin came from. And I know that’s not what you’re supposed to tell people. There’s supposed to be some clear moment of inspiration that everything else hangs off. Something that people can look at, think about, and go, “Ah… I see. It all makes perfect sense!” Only it doesn’t.
Broken Skin is published by Harper Collins Hbk £12.99