To be honest, this particular news story was just the excuse I needed to stop proof reading my new novel, ‘The Unwanted’ . Unfortunately, after a while I start reading what I think is there instead of what is really there; it’s a real pain! So, putting my correcting pen down and taking note, having a bit of a stretch and putting the kettle on, were all very welcome distractions and prompted some creative thought too.
As I was following the item it suddenly dawned on me how many things have changed for authors in this interconnected society. Furthermore I’m not sure we have quite worked out how to compensate for the fact mobile phones have scuppered so many of our stock plot devices. Just think about it, unless you can organise a dodgy signal area everyone is eminently connectable. If London’s mayor, Boris Johnson gets his way we will all be able to remain in contact even on the city’s underground; so there goes another murder opportunity!
A friend of mine was recently bemoaning the fact her thriller has become ‘history’ as it is set on the internet but without Skype and video calls. ’I feel it really isn’t going to sound believable anymore; I obviously spent too long writing it!’
She makes me laugh, but there is a serious point here. How do you ensure a character is untraceable, for example? After all, a quick Google or Facebook search turns up all kinds of signals which can really mess up an intricate bit of plotting!
I am not averse to using the vernacular but text speak? I have to say it doesn’t thrill me but then perhaps I am showing my age here and this really will be the future of crime fiction.
The other alternative, of course, is to look backwards. Think how important Hilary Mantel trilogy has become and these books are set at the time of Henry VII or popular crime fiction writer, C.J. Sansom’s Shardlake series of crime thrillers which are also set in the same period and even featuring Cromwell too!
The big blockbusting TV serials which have garnered countless fans have been Downton Abbey, that series about the setting up of Selfridges and now The Village. Is this simply a reaction or are authors rejecting the ‘mobile phone plot saboteur’?
I am thinking about this, but personally I am going to have to find a way round this 24/7 interconnectivity conundrum one way or another; perhaps I might become even more imaginative as a consequence; let’s hope so.
I suppose to a certain extent it almost depends on target audience but seeing as we are all Generation C (C standing for connected) it is difficult to generalise. Mind you the more I think about it the more possibilities there are regarding mobile phones and computers.
Look at the desperate behaviour of the press regarding phone hacking scandal’s despicable behaviour. This kind of behaviour might be something which could be exploited; after all the opportunities to manipulate and be manipulated by phone are almost endless. Cyber bullying didn’t used to exist, but now? There are always different avenues to explore when thinking about theme and plot for crime fiction.
Maybe it really is time to stop relying on tried and tested crime fiction devices, for example, and embrace the new technological world. We have already moved on from the dead body in the drawing room kind of scenario. Anyway, consider the fact, we have learned to trust and rely on our mobile devices which is always very dangerous. Therefore, what if? Hold on, must dash I’ve just had an idea …