Wilkie Martin - Some Background to Books and Writing

Monday, 7 October 2013

What's in the Blood?

When someone said that Inspector Hobbes and the Blood, the title of my first book in the unhuman series of fast-paced, comedy crime fantasies, sounds rather gruesome I thought it was time for some explanation of how blood sits within a comedy book. It depends on how blood is interpreted, for it can mean many things.

  • Blood is vital for life. Andy, my hapless narrator, was living a sort of half-life before meeting Inspector Hobbes;  Hobbes became a vital force, almost like a blood transfusion, to bring Andy back to full life.
  • Blood can be used in the sense of 'it's in the blood', meaning a certain feature, or set of behaviours, regarded as part of someone's nature or inherited characteristics. Since one of the themes of the book is nature vs nurture, how much of an individual's behaviour is genetic, and how much comes from upbringing, this sense seemed appropriate. Inspector Hobbes, although having a fundamentally savage nature, remains civilized, at least for most of the time. Andy, on the other hand, starts to learn that he has spirit and strength of character, traits that have largely been suppressed by the way he was brought up. Hobbes was adopted; Andy was raised by his natural parents.
  • There is also a theme of blood sacrifice. On one level, this manifests as a selfish urge to kill for a character's own insane needs. On another level, Hobbes, going about his duty, puts his own life on the line to try and rescue a member of the public. Then, Andy risks all, abandoning his habitual selfishness and cowardice, to help.
  • There is hot blood, a passionate, fiery nature, as exemplified by Hobbes, in comparison to cold blooded other characters, especially in their plans to murder.
  • There is the verb 'to blood', meaning to initiate. Hobbes initiates Andy into his world, where not everything is how it appears on the surface. Andy is also 'fresh blood' in Hobbes's circle of friends.
  • And, yes, the title does also encompass some darker meanings, such as bloodbath, blood-letting, and a little blood-curdling!

Inspector Hobbes and the Blood is the first in my unhuman series of novels. It is published by The Witcherley Book Company and available in paperback and kindle from Amazon, and other online bookshops.
Amazon.co.uk http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_14?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=inspector%20hobbes%20and%20the%20blood&sprefix=inspector+hobb%2Caps%2C316&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ainspector%20hobbes%20and%20the%20blood
Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_30?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=inspector%20hobbes%20and%20the%20blood&sprefix=inspector+hobbes+and+the+blood%2Caps%2C210&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ainspector%20hobbes%20and%20the%20blood

Posts on Hobbes
#blog Alan Titchmarsh was my inspiration for writing Inspector Hobbes and the Blood

Event - 7-8 October 2013 on Amazon

The final two days of my KDP Select FREE promotion on the Kindle version of Inspector Hobbes and the Blood.

Event - 31 October 2013 at Writers in the Brewery

I will be reading from, and talking about, Inspector Hobbes and the Blood at the Writers in the Brewery at New Brewery Arts, Brewery Court, Cirencester, Glos., GL7 1JH,  UK on 31 October 2013 at 7:30pm. Doors open 7:00pm. Entry: £4.00. There will also be an open mic event for local writers to read poems, life writing and short stories (register at the door). For more about Writers in the Brewery see the New Brewery Arts website http://www.newbreweryarts.org.uk/making-a-visit/regular-groups/writers-in-the-brewery
31 October also marks pubnlication day of Inspector Hobbes and the Curse - unhuman II.

Recordings of Inspector Hobbes and the Blood

I talked about and read a couple of short extracts from Inspector Hobbes and the Blood on Corinium Radio in July 2013 (starts 12 minutes in)

Coming soon - Inspector Hobbes and the Curse - 31 October 2013

Inspector Hobbes and the Curse is the second in the series and will be published by The Witcherley Books Company on 31 October 2013. Like 'Blood' in the first title 'Curse' also has a number of interpretations.
Amazon.co.uk http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=inspector+hobbes+and+the+curse&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ainspector+hobbes+and+the+curse
Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=inspector+hobbes+and+the+curse&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ainspector+hobbes+and+the+curse

Saturday, 6 July 2013

#blog Alan Titchmarsh was my inspiration for writing Inspector Hobbes and the Blood

I enjoyed my brief appearance on Corinium Radio talking about some of the inspiration for my novel Inspector Hobbes and the Blood (published on 26 July 2013). Here is a little more background on my book's characters.

Alan Titchmarsh as inspiration
The initial inspiration for Inspector Hobbes came from seeing a television programme in which Alan Titchmarsh, made up to look like a Neanderthal, walked through a busy street. If I remember rightly, only one person, a young woman, really noticed him, and stared for a moment. This gave me the idea that Neanderthals, or possibly individuals from some other branch of the human tree, might still exist, living in our midst, generally unremarked. Then, one evening, sometime later, I visited a local video store, where a family renting videos struck me as so strange in their manners, appearance, and speech that it brought the Titchmarsh Neanderthal, and the concept that they are still among us, back to mind.
Shortly afterwards, Inspector Hobbes came to life as a character in a short story. He, concealed behind the fa├žade of a police detective, was not quite human, being of extraordinary strength, and having retained certain animal characteristics and senses. People hearing the story seemed to find the character appealing, so I wrote a couple more, playing around with the character. Although these went reasonably well, I thought they weren't really going anywhere, but that Hobbes might be able to sustain a novel.
And Sherlock Holmes
An early problem was that I found I was unable to get into his mind, in the same way I would be unable to comprehend what is happening in the mind of, say, a dog. Although I could have used a third person narrative form, I thought about the Sherlock Holmes stories, being a fan of them. In these, since Holmes' thought processes are obviously so different to those of normal people, Conan-Doyle used the device of a narrator, Dr Watson, to carry the story. I decided to do something similar, and Andy Caplet became my narrator. Since I needed a reason to get Andy involved with Hobbes, I made him a local reporter. Andy's name came from an old photograph I'd seen of composers Claude Debussy and Andre Caplet together. Debussy was large and hairy, a bit like I imagined Hobbes, whereas Caplet appeared small and insignificant. As the novel developed, Andy, struggling against his many flaws, became the central character.
Mrs Goodfellow, the eccentric, tooth-collecting housekeeper, appeared fully formed, and apparently out of nowhere. She just seemed to be essential, and the sort of woman who would look after and care for an outsider like Hobbes. As for Dregs, Hobbes's big, bad dog, I wasn't sure why he appeared, but knew he was necessary. Even so, it was only as the plot worked itself out that I understood why.
Other characters, particularly the non-human ones, developed from the sort of people Hobbes, would know. After all, if you accept the possibility of one non-human being living in town, it is a small stretch to accept there may be others, even if they are not all the same, and mythic beings may have had some basis in fact. The plot developed from these characters, as well as those Andy knew. I made up the word unhuman to describe Hobbes, rather than using inhuman, which carries connotations of cruelty.

Cotswolds setting

I set the action in and around Sorenchester, a fictional Cotswold town. All the characters and the locations in the book are entirely fictitious, arising from my own warped mind.
At the end of Inspector Hobbes and the Blood, realising there was still potential for stories with Andy, Hobbes, Mrs Goodfellow and Dregs, I began the, now completed, second book in the unhuman series, Inspector Hobbes and the Curse, and am now editing the third in the series.

Available from

Inspector Hobbes and the Blood is published by The Witcherley Book Company on 26 July 2013. It is available in paperback (ISBN: 978-0-9576351-0-4 £7.99) or kindle (ISBN: 978-0-9576351-1-1 £4.99) and is available from amazon, or it can also be ordered from bookshops. As well as amazons worldwide it is being distributed by Adlibris.com, Bertrams, Blackwell, Book Depository, Coutts, Gardners, Mallory International, Paperback Shop, Eden Interactive Ltd., Aphrohead in the UK and worldwide, and by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble in the US. It will also be available to createspace resellers (https://www.createspace.com/pub/l/createspacedirect.do?rewrite=true).

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