It’s a pleasure to welcome Derek Flynn today with a guest post as part of the blog tour for his recently released novel, The Dark.
Derek’s post is about method writing…
We’ve all heard of “method acting”. This is where an actor completely immerses themselves in a character to the point where they “become” the character. But what about “method writing”?
“Method writing” is a process whereby the author completely immerses himself in the character and the character’s world. Of course, method writing is not always recommended. It’s probably best that Thomas Harris didn’t employ it when he was writing the character of Hannibal Lector. Also, safe to say that Stephen King would be best advised to avoid it. But I find the notion that a writer might try to become their character – to whatever extent – fascinating.
When I was writing my first novel, I decided to do some first-hand research. The novel was set in a one-horse town in Wyoming. The story was based on an ancient Greek myth and the fictional town was called Thebes. Before I started to write it, I consulted a US atlas and scoured Wyoming for a small town that might have a Greek-sounding name. To my amazement, I found a town called Thermopolis. So, I found out everything I could about Thermopolis and used photos of the area as reference as I wrote. But something wasn’t quite right. I felt I hadn’t quite captured the essence of the place. I decided I would have to experience it for myself. And so, I headed to Thermopolis.
One of the most interesting things I discovered while walking around Thermopolis was that it fit perfectly with the main character in my book. He is a mysterious stranger who arrives into town on foot. He spends most of the book wandering the town much to the consternation and puzzlement of the locals, who thinks he’s some kind of vagrant. I felt I was doing something similar. I was getting inside the head of my main character in a way that I never would have if I drove around the town as the locals and other tourists did.
The perfect example of this happened on the morning I checked out of my hotel. There was a large hill outside the hotel which I had incorporated into my book. I decided to get a closer look at it. So, bag on my back, I climbed halfway up and had a look around. After I’d come back down, I sat on a bench by the side of the road with my bag beside me. A car pulled out of the driveway of the hotel and stopped. The woman driving rolled down her window and shouted to me, “Are you okay?”
“Sorry?” I shouted back. “Are you okay? Do you need some food?”
At once touched and baffled, I told her no, thank you, I was fine. Then, after a few minutes of bewilderment, I realised I’d achieved my ‘Method Moment’. For that split second, I WAS the mysterious stranger wandering around town, whom the locals think may be some kind of vagrant, and getting strange looks as well as kind offers of food.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have the character of a serial killer to research.
Thanks so much for that, Derek. It’s nice to know some people care enough to check, but I’m sure you won’t want any mistakes over the next research project!
About the Book
John Ryan has had his share of strange cases. But none as strange as the man who turns up claiming he can’t remember who he is. As John attempts to find out the mystery man’s identity, the lights suddenly go out in Choketown.
And then, the murders start.
The Choketown Killer has returned. And John’s client becomes the number one suspect.
With his city in the grip of a blackout, John begins the hunt for the serial killer as the body count rises and the city teeters on the brink of spiralling out of control.
But the question is: who can he trust?