Bad Blood is available for 99p here on Amazon:
Jack thinks he’s found real purpose when he joins the British Army, but his world is irrevocably changed when tragedy strikes in Afghanistan.
Back home, recovering from his injuries and rebuilding his relationship with girlfriend Daisy, he discovers there is more to this life than first meets the eye.
Working as a consultant for a movie studio, Jack uncovers the actions of a foe who threatens the new life he has made.
Can Jack stop an all too familiar enemy before times runs out?
Bad Blood is the contemporary story of Jack Dyson, a young man injured in Afghanistan and adapting to life out of the army. After waking up from a coma, he lives with his girlfriend Daisy McFey and discovers that he has developed a supernatural ability.
Spoilers: Jack discovers he can travel through mirrors from place to place, and indeed from different versions of his reality. In one such version he crosses paths with an other version of himself – a version who is intent on killing as many versions of Daisy as he can. It’s then up to Jack to stop his evil twin before he can kill again.
Writing Bad Blood
After publishing my collection of short stories, I went back to the novel form for my next book. The short stories were a way of giving myself a respite from the slog of writing a full-length story and also gave me a way of discovering what themes and ideas were important to me. I also didn’t have an idea that I deemed good enough to fill a novel.
Inspiration dawned after I had finished The Sun and the Rainfall and I set about starting to roughly map out the plot/timeline and characters for a new novel set in the same ‘universe’ as Lucky and Broken.
The working title was The Girl with the Bowie Eyes and indeed I was set on this for some time until I realised that (a) there really are too many books using that title format (after the success of the Millennium Trilogy a.k.a. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series) (b) David Bowie’s estate might not be happy with me using his name on a title of a book, and (c) it didn’t fit in with other titles in the ‘universe’. I went so far as to ‘put it out there’ in a blog post.
Various alternative titles, mostly one word adjectives, started to accumulate in my notebook but for a while I just couldn’t think of a decent title. However as I progressed with my writing and the story unfolded on the page, I realised that none of the adjectives I had in mind (to keep up the naming convention of Broken and Lucky) fit the bill.
There is a girl with eyes like David Bowie in the novel, but she is not the main character. That responsibility is taken up by her boyfriend an ex-soldier injured in Afghanistan. In the same vein as Danny O’Brien and Lucy Tasker in the preceding novels the boyfriend discovers that he has a supernatural talent and has to deal with the consequences of that talent and his situation as the story progresses.
Writing by mid-March 2016 was going great guns but I slowed down when I got to the real meat of the book (and when I bought a PS4). I originally expected this project to come to fruition by the third quarter of 2017.
In July 2017 I was proofing the first full draft, so it could then go off to a tame test reader so I could gauge if the story ‘works’ or not. After much deliberation I decided to call the book Bad Blood – and while that sounds very generic it makes perfect sense for what happens in the story – from a number of angles.
I gave my tame reader a proofing copy to take on holiday with him and then read it through again myself, realised it wasn’t good enough and texted him to put a halt to proceedings. Over the course of October 2017, I pulled the story apart and put it back together in a much better structure with less mistakes.
The feedback on this revised version was good and so, after inserting a new epilogue I had written while the test reading was going on and tidying up some typos, I published in January 2018.
I’d like to thank my work colleague Neil Slater for providing proof reading services again and for putting me in touch with a police armed response trainer who was able to enlighten me about what weapons are used in SWAT-style situation in the UK.
I’d like to thank two anonymous ex-British Army soldiers who served in Afghanistan for their insights into everyday life in the army, what it was like out there and in training. I’d also like to thank an old university friend and the groundsman for the High Wycombe cemetery for answering a couple of really silly questions from me about the local area.
As well as a lot of internet searching, I also found two books both entertaining and informative. These were:
- The Longest Kill: The Story of Maverick 41, One of the World’s Greatest Snipers – Craig Harrison
- Front Line: A Soldier’s Story – War in Afghanistan – Steve Stone
And I can thoroughly recommend both.
Obviously there’s a lot of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman wrapped up in this book and there’s a clear conceptual connection to Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Beyond that I just wanted to explore the life of a young injured soldier as I have previously made some rather naive assumptions about what motivates people to join up. To help with this, I watched as many old army documentaries on iPlayer that I could lay my hands on and spoke to a friend’s brother who joined up in his teens. However, the army side of things is really just a means to an end. The fun for me only really starts when Jack is back home.
I guess I was also influenced by the many behind-the-scenes Blu-ray extras I watch. That’s where the idea that Jack gets involved in the production of a war film came from and I guess I always found that part of Scream 3 based around the idea of the fictional film Stab 3 quite a cute bit of ‘meta’ storytelling. One bit of artistic license I granted myself was the idea that Pinewood had room for the production at the date and time specified – in fact I expect they were fully booked making the new Star Wars film.
Bad Blood is set in the same ‘universe’ as Lucky and Broken. Ian ‘Fletch’ Fletcher from Lucky makes a couple of appearances inside parallel universes and both Lucy Tasker and Danny O’Brien appear in the epilogue. This is a blatant attempt by me to try and join them together in some kind of Avengers/Justice League style sequel in the future.
Based on an Unsplash.com image by Joel Filipe.