Back on the new project train.
I’ve been swimming a lot, joined a gym, spent a lot of time with the kids. Mostly I’ve been avoiding the blank page. I knew I wanted to write something, get one of the new things down and done and once I had ten, twenty k in the bank then that would be it settled, that I would have come past the point of no return and this would be the WIP.
The actual work of it eluded me. Whenever I did write, it felt like I was being smothered. I reread some of the stuff I wrote and it’s almost there on the page – that reticence, the vagueness of every name and line and interaction. The unwillingness to commit. It’s not bad stuff. It’s just empty. It doesn’t go anywhere, and so it’s not worth following.
So I dumped it all in a corner of my writing folder and reorganised my notes and played some computer games and exercised some more. The swimming is coming along really well. I lifted one hundred and twenty kilograms, which is a ridiculous number held up against the mental image of my 2014 self tipping the scales at almost half that weight, fainting at work. I came back to the writing slowly.
It’s another thriller. I had the Hinterkaifeck murders in my mind for a time, the strange, isolated vision of a whole family unaware of a killer in their home, haunted by the poltergeist movement of objects, strange footsteps…and then all killed in a single night, matter-of-fact with mattock-blows, like the killing itself was less the purpose than an unfortunate side effect of something stranger that we will never fully understand.
It felt like the spark that set it in motion, but it took me a long time to find the momentum. I was too concerned about how of the killings, the mechanism of them, and while that has a certain nuts-and-bolts importance in terms of the writing, it’s really not important at all. The question is: why?
So, I came up with a story that lies in the past as much as it does in the present. A past tied to the brush scrub roots of American existence, half-exposed and white-raw from winds cut hard with salt from the pan; a past tied to the dispossessed middle children of manifest destiny, left stranded by their forefathers in a landscape so barren it might as well be the surface of the moon. A madness borne of frustration – a hatred swallowed deep and stewed, bit still held between the teeth – until it rises up into a hatred of everything new, everything modern, of all the things that have risen up like the unwelcome palm of some great giant, pushing you once more to the sidelines.
How would you even go about killing the future? How would you kill a giant so large that it spans the world?
So. I best go write it.