A guest blog post by Adam Fitzroy
To celebrate the paperback edition of IN DEEP, which is published today, I thought you might be interested to hear a little bit about how it came to be written.
I didn’t grow up wanting to write M/M relationship stories; I grew up wanting to write crime. In fact, I think a thorough grounding in the logic of crime fiction works well for any author; it’s a huge help to be able to analyse cause and effect, or the consequences of characters’ actions, whether you start with a ‘beginning idea’ and work away from it, or with an ‘end idea’ and work towards it. And crime fiction, of course, has recognisable rules – although it’s quite possible to subvert or undermine them on occasion.
I started reading detective fiction as a child with Holmes, Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey and Ellery Queen, then worked my way through Brother Cadfael, Falco, Baldi, McLevy and Charles Paris, and I’m currently enjoying the Albert Campion books. TV and radio added Ironside, Kojak, Bergerac, Wallander, Martin Beck, the Endeavour/Morse/Lewis arc, Dalziel and Pascoe, Shetland, Broadchurch, Inspector Wexford, and of course Z-Cars and The Bill. From all these I learned that two things are important in detective fiction; the detective must be likeable (although not necessarily all the time) and the setting must be interesting. The trend towards ‘Nordic noir’ suited me perfectly, since I’ve always enjoyed places that were slightly run-down and depressing – seaside towns in winter, plush hotels past their best, Victorian railway stations with buddleia and rosebay willowherb growing out of the roof. (Woe betide the well-meaning Civic Society that cleans up or, worse, demolishes one of my favourite tatty old buildings!)
Truly, crime fiction and Orkney were made for each other. It’s Britain without being Britain – there’s no Starbucks, no Domino’s, hardly any supermarkets. TV and mobile reception are variable, there’s precisely one cinema, and sport is something you do rather than something you watch. The further away from the mainland you get, the smaller the communities become – and the more versatile individuals have to be. They pilot the lifeboat, deliver the post, paint or tile each other’s houses, and still find time to play accordion in the pub twice a week and deliver a sermon on Sunday. Imagine how something as shattering as a murder would work in a small community like that; imagine how it would undermine relationships, upset the balance and leave people feeling wounded and betrayed.
The story that eventually became IN DEEP grew out of a very tiny seed – watching a light plane land on a grass airstrip on Lamb Holm. I was also mildly irritated by the Shetland TV series’s insistence that officers from outside cannot possibly understand the islands and will make no attempt to adapt to their surroundings. This sets up an uncomfortable – and artificial – ‘us–v–them’ dichotomy, whereas I have never understood why a well-intentioned outsider shouldn’t be able to adapt to conditions in the islands rather than trying to make the islands adapt to him. That was what I wanted my detective to do – to blend in, not make any enemies, and to learn from the local people rather than throwing his weight about.
So there you have it – this story started with a seed, plus irritation. Whether or not IN DEEP is actually a pearl is not for me to say, but certainly something grew out of those very small and unpromising beginnings – and I have to admit that I’m actually rather proud of the result!
We’re giving away two copies of the paperback edition of IN DEEP. Please enter via our giveaway form. The draw will be made on Sunday 22 April, after which we’ll contact the winners directly to ask for a postal address. Good luck, everyone!