We are delighted to welcome author, Luca Veste to Novel Kicks and his blog tour for his new novel, The Dying Place which was released by Avon on e-book on 23rd October and is due to be released in paperback at the beginning of December.
Luca talks to us about creating suspense and making you turn one more page…
I was asked at an event recently if I was disappointed if someone told me they had read one of my books in a day or similar length. The idea being that something for which I had put in more than a year’s worth of work had been devoured within short space of time somehow diminished the output in some way. I, of course, answered no – I’m actually inordinately pleased if I’m told that someone ‘couldn’t put the book down’! In a world full of seemingly endless distractions, the thought someone can shun all of those and concentrate solely on one thing for more than ten minutes has to be a good thing. And this is something that is of great importance to me when writing and rewriting a novel… how do I keep a reader turning those pages?
Creating suspense isn’t something I have found to be organic during the writing process. It takes time and effort to keep a level of intrigue going throughout a read, with building blocks spread within a novel. Suspense is derived from asking questions and not instantly revealing answers – instead, you keep a reader interested in finding out the answers to the mysteries created in a variety of ways. My initial concern is with character. In order to keep a reader invested is to create characters which will resonate and make people interested in what happens to them. If I want to keep someone reading the novel engaged with what is occurring, I need to create characters who the reader cares enough about to see what will happen to them next. In DEAD GONE, the character of Jemma Barnes runs throughout the novel, with her capture and mental torture occurring over a long period of time. It was important to me that people would care about her predicament, so her personality had to come through in the chapters in which she appeared or other characters talked about her. The reader had to care whether or not she was going to make it or not. Similarly, in my new novel THE DYING PLACE, what is happening to the characters of Goldie – and the rest of the teenagers and what they are being put through – meant I had to make people care about them in some way. I made this more difficult for myself by creating characters which are often the most maligned in society. Issues surrounding young people and the problems a small section of them cause is often the focus of negative media. Creating a moral dilemma for people reading became a major part of writing the novel.
Next comes when to reveal information throughout the story. Early on in THE DYING PLACE, a reader may have sympathy for what may be considered the ‘bad guys’ in the book. They are at the end of their tether – they feel they have nowhere else to turn but towards violence as a solution. When you consider what the teenagers have done to others, that sympathy increases. However, as you read on, I hope it becomes apparent that the issues are never as black and white as they seem. Doing this by revealing more about characters as the novel progresses means a reader becomes more and more invested in discovering what happens in the end to those characters, creating what I hope is a suspenseful read.
Often, a big twist or reveal can become the focal point of a novel, and indeed in DEAD GONE, I worked hard on the overall twist being one which would shock a reader. In THE DYING PLACE, the twist is – in my opinion – there is no twist. Just characters on both sides that go on a journey into darkness, with the suspense created by the fact that there is seemingly no way out of what they have started. Unlike the large body count of DEAD GONE, in THE DYING PLACE, there is just one death in the first half of the book, with a gradual unravelling of one character leading to many more. Keeping the reader turning that page becomes more than tricks to keep interest going, and more about the characters concerned. As a writer, you just hope you have created something that will make that happen.
The blog tour continues tomorrow over at Raven Crime Reads.
About The Dying Place:
Once inside…there’s no way out
A fate worse than death…
DI Murphy and DS Rossi discover the body of known troublemaker Dean Hughes, dumped on the steps of St Mary’s Church in West Derby, Liverpool. His body is covered with the unmistakable marks of torture.
As they hunt for the killer, they discover a worrying pattern. Other teenagers, all young delinquents, have been disappearing without a trace.
Who is clearing the streets of Liverpool?
Where are the other missing boys being held?
And can Murphy and Rossi find them before they meet the same fate as Dean?
The Dying Place is available to buy on e-book at Amazon and you can also pre-order the paperback.
(Published as an e-book by Avon on 23rd October 2014. The paperback is due for release on 4th December.)