Wilkie Martin - Surviving Publication

Author of the unhuman series of addictive comedy cozy mysteries set in the Cotswolds. This documents my encounters with publishing and includes things I hope will be useful later. It also covers some local writing competitions and reviews some writing events.

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 façade 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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Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Howard Timms at Writers in the Brewery, 27th June 2013


This was another evening at Writers in the Brewery that deviated a little from the norm. It started with a prize giving for the winners of the Cirencester Housing for Young People (CHYP) poetry competition http://chypthecharity.org.uk/. The winner was Phil Kirby, a fine poet who once gave a talk at Writers in the Brewery. 2nd was Ros Lee, and 3rd was Chris Paston.

Open Mic

After the winners read their poems, there were more readings. Jamie Glasspool read a promising extract from his first novel, followed by Guy Hunter, who has his own poetry show on Radio Winchcombe http://www.radiowinchcombe.co.uk , reading a poem about how to predict the future. I was last on before the break, with my short story, The Promised Land, a black comedy about an unfortunate murderer. People seemed to like it.

 Howard Timms

After the customary beer and chat break, during which I won a bottle of wine in the raffle (Hoorah!), Howard Timms www.howardtimms.com took the floor, with a shortened version of his one man show, In Tune with Dementia. This was about his relationship with his mother when she was in a home suffering from dementia. Although it could have been a really depressing story, Howard, acting himself and his mother, managed to make it very funny at times, while not avoiding the genuine sadness. It was cleverly done, and well presented, taking us close to tears at times, before veering towards humour, and heading off into a song - often the way he used to unlock his mother's memory, if only temporarily.

I was impressed by the way he managed to bring in all sorts of memories and family secrets, both comic and sad, leading to a number of sub plots amongst the main theme of losing a mother to a cruel disease.

He will be taking the show up to the Edinburgh festival in August edfringe.com/whats-on/theatre/in-tune-with-dementia . Having experienced it, I reckon he should do well. Good luck, Howard.

Coming up:
The next Writers in the Brewery events are on the last Thursday of each month, doors open 7pm for a 7:30pm start and 9:00pm finish. Price £4, which goes to the venue, New Brewery Arts (as does the bar money), so supporting the raffle which helps with the expenses of the speakers/performers. Events are organized by, creative writing teaching, Dr Rona Laycock.
  • Writers in the Brewery
    • After a break for the summer Writers in the Brewery returns on Thursday 26 September
  • Corinium Radio
    • Winners of the next Write Out Loud writing competition have the opportunity to read or have their work read during this broadcast.
      Saturday 6 July 2013
      15:15 (BST) – Write Out Loud    
    • I will be discussing my new novel Inspector Hobbes and the Blood with Linda Dyson on Corinium Radio
      Friday 5 July 2013
      12:20 (BST) – with Linda Dyson
    • The frequency of the station is usually 87.7fm but won't be confirmed until just before the date. It can also be listened to online through the Corinium Radio website.
Writers in the Brewery:

For more about Writers in the Brewery see the New Brewery Arts website newbreweryarts.org.uk/courses-events-and-groups/join-a-group/writers-in-the-brewery-c-453_312_361.html

Previous relevant blogs:

Moses Wiggins at Writers in the Brewery, 30 May 2013
John Gibbons with Armorel Weston at Writers in the Brewery - 25 April 2013
Writers in the Brewery 29th March 2013 - Rob Palmer
Lesley Saunders at Writers in the Brewery – 28 February 2013