I’m delighted to welcome Jim Alexander with his guest post about writing Good Cop (a sequel to GoodCopBadCop) which was published on 7th October.
Over to you, Jim…
Picture the scene. I’m sitting across the table from someone. Let’s call him Person A. Person A asks me if I’m working on a sequel to my novel GoodCopBadCop. No spoilers here, but there could be an argument (at least that’s Person A’s view) to suggest the ending to GoodCopBadCop is ambiguous. And that, naturally, I should be thinking about a sequel. At the time in response, I’m pretty adamant. I’m not interested. I leave Person A in absolutely no doubt that there is no prospect of doing a follow-up. I’m done with that particular chapter (or collection of chapters).
Forward three years and I’m promoting Good Cop, the follow-up to GoodCopBadCop. And not any old sequel, but a ‘blistering’ follow-up to GoodCopBadCop. Do I owe Person A an apology? Possibly. An explanation? Definitely.
So why the change of heart?
The intention was to write something else. Something very different in the guise of a science-fiction anthology. A common theme running through the stories would be the emergence of AI. It’s a good idea, but I had this nagging doubt that it wasn’t fully there. When embarking on writing something on the lines of a novel, never mind anyone else, I need to convince myself there’s enough meat on the bones to justify the undertaking. As for the sci-fi book, it still needed more time to gestate. I think I’m there now and I’m ready to start work on this as my next project, but back then I wasn’t there yet. Back then I was faced with the quandary if not this, then what?
And then it struck me like one of those literary lightning bolts you might have read about. My mind drifted back to GoodCopBadCop. There wouldn’t be much point doing a retread of the first book. So that started me thinking why not have Good Cop on his own, ridding himself of his ‘Bad Cop’ persona. And in its place there is a voice in his head which isn’t his own. And then it snowballed and the idea of Good Cop came to me pretty quickly fully contained.
As for the process of actually writing, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the global pandemic. I’m based in Scotland, so for the first UK lockdown I did very little. I was much more productive during the next lockdown particularly after Xmas. I just put my head down and looked up once or twice. Now the first draft was done it was time to get the old gang back together. Editor, cover artist, proof-reader and production guru.
Alex Ronald is the cover artist on both GoodCopBadCop and my second novel ‘the Light’, so it was a no brainer that I go back to him. I give him a short brief: ‘the main character is almost angelic here. He has his hands held out in supplication/prayer and has a halo above his head.’ The cover Alex came up with is arguably the best of the lot.
Kirsten Murray is the editor and she was invaluable particularly in pointing out all the inconsistencies. Pointing out that the character says they swear by one thing in one chapter while saying the exact opposite in a later chapter. Proof is by Eli Winter who keeps all things spelling and grammar above board. For example, highlighting the correct spelling of uniform (unform was lurking there previously)! Finally, Jim Campbell production guru brings all the various bits and pieces together. Once Jim C is done it’s official we have a book.
And at the end, yes I did a sequel, and I’m now a true believer. I believe in this book. It’s a follow-up yes, but has a life and identity of its own. Here’s the pitch:
Detective Inspector Brian Fisher seeks to put the past behind him and free himself from his ‘Bad Cop’ persona once and for all. But it’s not easy to turn your back on a dark history of depravity and violence. Fisher is about to discover his inner demons won’t let go without a fight.
Both crime drama and Jekyll-and-Hyde-inflected psychological thriller, Good Cop continues the dark humour and bruising action of GoodCopBadCop.
I hope people like it. I hope Person A likes it!