Today on The Tattooed Book Geek I am pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for Dead Lands by Lloyd Otis with a guest post courtesy of the author himself.
Guest Post: Dead Lands – writing is an expression of self
When we talk about writing we are talking about a creative output similar to art or music, and by that, I mean it’s an expression of self. The artist and musician expresses what they feel, and so do authors. They must consider what it is they’d like the reader to know and understand about their characters. A lot of work goes into a book and whatever the final outcome is, a story starts out as the author expressing himself, or herself. That’s where the uniqueness derives from.
If you go into the pub and have a conversation with someone, then another conversation with someone else, the chances are that those two conversations won’t be the same. The chances are that no two authors will write the same either. We’ve had it said repeatedly that writing is a subjective business. What you might like to read, your partner may not, and that’s the beauty of it although the rules are there – let the story have a beginning, middle and an end. Ultimately, the authors will decide on how strict they should be with what they create.
I like the choice that books bring to us, especially when we’re allowed to hear different voices. There’s no problem with choice, as long as it’s good choice, whether it’s from new writers or established ones. I might not want the beginning of the story to follow the obvious template, I might be excited to learn new word – reach for the dictionary even and wonder about its hidden meaning – not just an official dictionary definition. I might want to do these things to enrich my reading. I want to read and enjoy what I’m reading, and get immersed in the story.
It was important for me to write a story like Dead Lands and offer something slightly different to the fans of crime fiction – the setting, the time period, the historical context of the real-life event that serves as its backdrop all rolled into one. Also, the introduction new characters. Sometimes situations aren’t straightforward, not always cut and dried. They can be a little more difficult than we first anticipate. So I made sure the characters in the story faced dilemmas and challenges in an environment with a mix of different people sharing the same space.
Of course I was able to add a lot more to these relationships when I considered the social climate. A character in the story, Benjamin, feels put upon and is mistrusted by some, but he wants to fight back. His attitude could be misconstrued as him having a ‘chip on his shoulder’ but the reality is that he is shielding himself. Benjamin is living in a time of racial prejudices and harsh discrimination which there’s no getting away from. For a long time he’s been learning how to survive it all, while wanting to make a difference, and DI Breck’s background enables him to understand this, to find common ground. For this period of time I’ll admit that Breck is the exception to the rule, but this balance is needed to counteract a distasteful character like his colleague Riley.
As an author I had to consider the emotions that come into play for these characters and others in Dead Lands – some are subtle, others are more intense.
They all feel something, either anger, pain, love, frustration, as they navigate their everyday lives, and the murder investigation ups the ante for them all.
Dead Lands is a thrilling crime story set in the 1970s. When a woman’s body is found a special team is called in to investigate and prime suspect Alexander Troy is arrested for the murder. Desperate to remain a free man, Troy protests his innocence, but refuses to use his alibi. Trying to protect the woman he loves becomes a dangerous game – questions are asked and suspicions deepen. When the prime suspect completes a daring escape from custody, DI Breck and DS Kearns begin the hunt. Breck wants out of the force while Kearns has her own agenda and seeks revenge. Breck has his suspicions and she wants to keep it from him, and a right-wing march provides an explosive backdrop to their hunt for Troy. Dead Lands is the thrilling debut of award winning short story writer Lloyd Otis, and intelligently covers issues of race, discrimination and violence in a changing 70s landscape.
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About Lloyd Otis:
Lloyd was born in London and attained a BA (Hons) in Media and Communication. After gaining several years of valuable experience within the finance and digital sectors, he completed a course in journalism. Lloyd has interviewed a host of bestselling authors, such as Mark Billingham, Hugh Howey, Kerry Hudson, and Lawrence Block. Two of his short stories were selected for publication in the ‘Out of My Window’ anthology, and he currently works as an Editor.
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