Two's Company - P.J. BROOKE

Written by P.J. Brooke

PJ Brooke is actually two people, myself, Jane Brooke, and my husband, Philip James O’Brien….hence PJ Brooke.  Phil and I have had a holiday home in southern Spain for a while now, initially a country cottage just outside a small town  in the mountains, about thirty  miles south of the city of Granada, and now a house in the oldest part of Granada itself, the Albayzin, where our detective hero also lives. These places shaped our story.

 

PJ Brooke

First, we started to learn about our small town. It was on the front line of the Spanish  Civil War of 1936-1939 which led to the Franco dictatorship which lasted until 1975. Left-wing guerrillas held out in the mountains around the town until the late 1940s. During the Civil War, and in the years afterwards,  at least five thousand local people were shot and their bodies dumped in unmarked common graves. People whom we met still spoke about fathers, grandfathers, and  brothers they had  lost. We learned how much property had changed hands, and how those families who had supported the fascists had become, and still were rich. Underneath the  façade, the town was full of ghosts.

Forward to 2003…the run-up to the second Gulf War. Our little  town has a small Muslim community, who are  progressive, educated and very welcoming. In the town, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike were campaigning to ‘Stop the War.’ Outside the town, there are some very isolated farmhouses. We saw one from afar , and thought… ’if you wanted to set up a training camp for potential terrorists, that  one over there could be a good place to do it…’

And so our story started to evolve. Leila Mahfouz,  a  beautiful young Muslim woman, is found dead in a gorge outside the town. She is an Edinburgh University PhD  student, researching the impacts of the Civil War on Diva, a fictionalised version of our town. The murder investigation by the less than competent local police force develops into an anti terrorist operation, and the story which Leila was researching takes on terrible significance for our young detective, half Scots, half  Spanish Sub-Inspector Max Romero of the Granada Homicide Squad, who gets dragged into the Leila Mahfouz case  because he was visiting his grandmother in his old home town, and is the only cop in the vicinity with good English.

We wanted to create a detective who is part of a Spanish family. Spanish families, particularly in smaller towns form a close knit unit, much more so than their equivalent in Britain. Sunday lunch with the grandparents is a sacred ritual. This has its advantages, but it also has a down-side particularly for our Max who is constantly phoned up by his beloved abuela, grandmother.

Phil and I work on our writing very much as a team… not quite creative genius/tea-maker fashion, but utilising complementary skills. Before early retirement packages gave us a blissful opportunity to write full time, Phil and I were both professional wordsmiths. Phil was  a Senior Lecturer  in Sociology  at Glasgow University working mainly on Latin America. I was a Local Government policy person and then management consultant. Both jobs depend on an ability to turn dull facts into stories that people want to read, and  skill in using words for precision, impact and colour.

In practice, Phil and I sit around for hours developing plot lines, arguing whether  a scene is credible, interesting, takes the plot in a worthwhile direction, and filling in all those small details on characters which helps bring them alive. Whilst in Glasgow we used to share a long Edwardian bath tub which we had found in a Glasgow flea market, and we sometimes stayed in the bath until it got cold arguing about plot and characters.

We love detective fiction, but can’t stand creaky or contrived plots, and hate it when a book starts wonderfully well,  but ends in a muddle of incredible coincidences, disguises, identical twins and ….gosh…the key was in his pocket all along. For us, it’s acceptable for a character to fail to pass a message because he couldn’t get a mobile signal, but he  has to be in  a  real-world location where reception is poor. We check.  It’s like the film director who insists that all the props must be  accurate, whether or not they  appear on close-up. My Spanish teacher checks all the Spanish words and phrases we use. She is, as she says, ‘muy chuminosa’…very picky. So it’s hard work, but we hope it’s worth the extra effort.

Once we have an outline for the next five or so chapters which  both of us are reasonably comfortable with , Phil goes into Creative Genius Mode, starts typing and stops thinking. If it’s really working, he can write about two or three thousand words per day. The text can sometimes go in directions we didn’t expect. New characters appear out of thin air, and the agreed plan can go out of the window. This is always interesting.  And sometimes useful.

When Phil has a few pages of text down, it’s time for a nice cup of tea, and I start the demolition job on the new material. Actually , mostly it’s ok, but Phil tends to write stage directions which I turn into dialogue. I add description and round out characters. Sometimes I have to put a red line through whole chunks like the time  when  Phil attempted a sex scene. It was embarrassingly bad. Why is it that chaps cannot write well about sex? Perhaps there’s something profound here?

Sometimes I write  entire chapters from scratch, but this carries the risk of pulling the plot in too many different directions at once, so it’s not advisable unless  this is new material to fit between chapters which have already been written.

Though working as a team help enormously with accuracy and (we hope) credibility, we regularly check with friends and family whether the text is working for them. During the process of writing ’Blood Wedding’ this was particularly important, as it was our first novel, and it’s always difficult to really, truly believe the other people in your Creative Writing class…including the tutor…when they say it is of publishable quality .And so it came to pass….

My Aunt Margaret , now aged 81, is a wise and experienced  reader of detective fiction, and it was with considerable trepidation we gave her the first compete draft of the novel for comment. Despite all efforts, we were still not entirely happy with the ending, but we were more than a wee bit taken aback when Margaret announced that ’she’d enjoyed it, but the wrong man  dunnit. It was X, not Y.’

But we thought about it, and she was right. So we revised the entire manuscript wrote another two  chapters, and it all worked so much better.

Moral of this story.  Two’s company. But five heads are even better than two.

If you want to learn more about Blood Wedding, our website is www.pjbrooke.co.uk.  It is the first in a series featuring Sub-Inspector Max Romero.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blood Wedding by P J Brooke ‘Blood Wedding’ was published in the UK on 1st December 2008 by Constable www.constablerobinson.com, and in the United States by Soho Press www.sohopress.com


P.S. When Jane was working she went on one of those ghastly management courses  - assertiveness. I still haven’t recovered. Phil.

 

Read SHOTS' review

abortion pills ordering abortion pills to be shipped to house abortion pill buy online
my girl friend cheated on me married cheaters online
i dream my husband cheated on me why do wife cheat how many women cheat on husbands
married looking to cheat unfaithful wives link
spy on phones spy on mobile phone phone tracking app
dilatation and curettage can you get an abortion without your parents knowing surgical abortion stories
android text monitoring app the best spy app for android free spyware android phone
why do people cheat link i dreamed my wife cheated on me
tween girls tribb sex stories astrobix.com interacial sex stories 1950 s
I cheated on my husband go wives who cheat
temovate tube link furosemide 40mg
propranolol 40mg diprolene tube diflucan 200mg
finasteride 1mg shouldersofgiants.co.uk sildenafil citrate 100mg
forms of abortion blog.robard.com coupons promo codes
viagra pill azithromycin 500mg thyroxine 25mcg
bystolic coupon mckesson site forest laboratories patient assistance
manufacturer coupons for prescription drugs open cialis coupons and discounts
prescription discounts cards manufacturer coupons for prescription drugs free prescription discount cards
abortion costs where to get abortion pill birth control
cialis contre cialis contre cialis contre
how much does abortion pill cost continentalnord.com natural abortion pill
rezeptfreie potenzmittel apotheke viagra kaufen apotheke osterreich potenzmittel rezeptfrei
stemetil im stemetil im dose stemetil side effects restlessness
metoprololsuccinat metoprolol pro medicin metoprololtartrat
addiyan chuk chuk thebaileynews.com addyi menopause
coupons prescriptions cialis coupon code cialis coupons 2015
discount coupons for prescriptions activeslo.com cialis manufacturer coupon 2016
lilly cialis coupons cialis prescription coupon cialis coupon codes
priligy thailand priligy hinta priligy 30 mg
online cialis coupons coupons for prescriptions free printable cialis coupons
duphaston 10 mg blog.griblivet.dk duphaston tablete za odgodu menstruacije
viagra torta viagra kamagra cialis viagra helyett
cialis 5 mg allindiasweetsrestaurant.com cialis nedir
abortion pill pictures abortion pill pictures abortion pill facts
free abortion pill low cost abortion pill different types of abortion pill
abortion in first trimester fao-events.com terminating pregnancy at 5 weeks
revia manufacturer s467833690.online.de naltrexone depression treatment
revia reviews naltrexone implant treatment naltrexone alternatives
naltrexone implant locations floridafriendlyplants.com naltrexone implant
low dose naltrexone where to buy blog.griblivet.dk naloxone for alcoholism
how long does naltrexone work myjustliving.com injection for alcohol craving
tolterodin nebenwirkungen tolterodin 2 mg tolterodin fass

P.J. Brooke



Home
Book Reviews
Features
Interviews
News
Columns
Authors
Competitions
Blog
Shop
About Us
Contact Us

Privacy Policy | Contact Shots Editor

THIS WEBSITE IS © SHOTS COLLECTIVE. NOT TO BE REPRODUCED ELECTRONICALLY EITHER WHOLLY OR IN PART WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION OF THE EDITOR.