Friday, 9 November 2012

Post Cosmo #2: The Thursday Night League

About three years ago I read a wonderful book called "The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril" by Paul Malmont, which pits a bunch of American pulp writers such as William "The Shadow" Gibson, Lester "Doc Savage" Dent, H P Lovecraft (or the ghost thereof), L. Ron Hubbard, Louis L'Amour, E E "Doc" Smith and Chester Himes against the sort of foe you'd usually meet in their stories. It's a lovely tribute to the genre, very entertaining and sweetly protective of the creators and their work. As I read it, I postulated what the British equivalent would have been and came to one conclusion quite quickly - the heroes would not be heroic go getters, but they'd mostly be retired teachers and vicars, semi-invalids or writers with private incomes. They'd be rather wonderfully second rate rather than the top level heroics of Malmont's book... and already the idea of it seemed hugely entertaining to me.




Also about three years ago, I reread one of the classic crime novels of all time, Anthony Berkeley's "The Poisoned Chocolates Case" in which Berkeley's hero, the enjoyably snide and arrogant crime writer Roger Sherringham, is part of a "Crimes Circle" of crime writers, retired judges, academics and other experts who sit around and try and solve cases the police are struggling with. It's a high watermark of British crime writing, as each of the members of the circle in turn come up with yet more complicated and plausible solutions to the crime, and yet again I was rather taken with swapping the fictional members of the Crimes Circle with members of the Detection Club, the organisation set partially set up by Berkeley himself and whose members have  included pretty much every crime writer of note in the UK (and Agatha Christie).



So could I match the two of these strands up and write a book about the real Detection Club solving crime? Well... no. Because where's the fun in that. Instead I've created the 1930s world of the Crime Club, which is an analogue of the Detection Club and full of annoying, arrogant, successful published crime writers, and the second leaguers who churn out the pulpish stuff for boys' magazines and library published crime fiction. More Sexton Blake than Inspector French, if you like. And that idea led me to the creation of the Thursday Night League: fourteen Northern crime, sci fi, pulp and children's writers who struggle to find avenues for their not exactly top class books and moan to each other about it on a weekly basis.
 



 "The Bombardier's Eyes" was started as my NANOWRIMO attempt two years ago and soon ballooned to ridiculous proportions. I've always wanted to write elegant crime novels in the vein of John Dickson Carr, but I don't frankly have the brain for it. So instead I wrote a big, fat, silly romp - all however many thousand words of the thing which now sits on my shelf in an unedited, still with closing chapters to finish state. And my  current idea is to whittle that beast down into something a little leaner but still just as silly.



My idea for this editing job is to publish the chapters in serial form. Mainly this is because the writers who make up the league would have been doing much the same thing themselves. I want to create facsimile/ pastiches of golden age pulp journals - replete with advertisements and small ads, in the manner of the back pages of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - for each chapter and publish them on a bimonthly rate. Then when that's done edit it all again into something approximating one coherent narrative. And then work on the next TNL book...


So sometime next year, I'll get my editing hat out, try and work out the plots which got so confused last time I tried to fathom out the book and knock out about fifteen issues of "The Bombardier's Eyes" for the pulpish pleasure of the world out there. Wish me luck with the plan!

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