I'm delighted to welcome David Jackson to my blog today as my Author in the Spotlight. David Jackson's latest book A Tapping at My Door was published by Zaffre on 7 April 2016.
Digging into Darkness
A Q&A with David Jackson
You put the reader into the mind of a serial killer and let them view events through a killer’s eyes. Do you find it easy to write these scenes and unleash a fury on the unsuspecting victims?
I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t enjoy writing such scenes. I love them, and I think most other crime writers find it one of the most enjoyable parts of the job. I think it was Hitchcock who said that great villains make for great drama, and I certainly wouldn’t disagree. At the same time, it has to be remembered that baddies don’t think of themselves as bad: they don’t wake up in the morning rubbing their hands together and contemplating world domination. In many ways they are often just normal people, and so writing from their points of view is also a way of exploring the darkest parts of our own minds.
It would be fascinating to know how you decide where to draw the line (in descriptive scenes of violence and also when settling on how a character takes the life of another).
I think it’s entirely down to intuition – what I think works and what doesn’t. Violence is undeniably horrific, and so I try to inject a bit of that horror into my writing; but at the same time there is the danger that too much gore will become tedious or off-putting. Somewhere between those two extremes is where I draw my own line, but for other writers it will be in an entirely different place.
For many bloggers, reading crime fiction is an escape, a chance to switch off from the real world and enjoy fictional retreats. Is there a danger that authors bring too much reality into their stories meaning that the lines between fact and fiction becomes blurred and that escapism element could be lost?
My view is that the vast majority of crime writing is unrealistic. In fact, I’d go further and say that the majority of any compelling fiction is unrealistic. And that’s a good thing. That’s why we read fiction – to escape the tedium and humdrum nature of our existence. Show me a realistic crime novel, and I’ll show you a boring one. Fictional people are not like real people. They are exceptional in some way, and exceptional things happen to them. That’s what makes the stories about them exciting.
Why do you think readers like a serial killer story?
One reason is that someone who has killed multiple times has, by definition, escaped capture multiple times. That makes them a worthy opponent, and, as mentioned above, a great villain makes for great drama.
Secondly, it ups the body count. That means more conflict, not only between the killer and victim, but also between killer and police. Every writer knows that conflict is what draws the reader in.
Find out more about David Jackson
Readers can find out more about David Jackson on his website. Follow David Jackson on Twitter - @Author_Dave
A Tapping at My Door
By David Jackson
Published by Zaffre (7 April 2016)
A woman at home in Liverpool is disturbed by a persistent tapping at her back door. She's disturbed to discover the culprit is a raven, and tries to shoo it away. Which is when the killer strikes. DS Nathan Cody, still bearing the scars of an undercover mission that went horrifyingly wrong, is put on the case. But the police have no leads, except the body of the bird - and the victim's missing eyes. As flashbacks from his past begin to intrude, Cody realises he is battling not just a murderer, but his own inner demons too. And then the killer strikes again, and Cody realises the threat isn't to the people of Liverpool after all - it's to the police. Following the success and acclaim of the Callum Doyle novels, A Tapping at My Door is the first instalment of David Jackson's new Nathan Cody series.