Welcome along to the 2nd last day of #BookWeekScotland! Today I’m uber delighted to welcome the brilliant Neil Broadfoot along to Chapterinmylife. Neil has written a piece for today’s blog called “Violent Delights” giving us insight into the “delight” he gets when writing violence into his novels! I feel slightly afraid after reading this – Neil you always seemed like such a mild mannered gentleman!
Violent delights By Neil Broadfoot
Since I was first published back in 2014, I’ve developed a bit of a reputation. And no, it’s nothing to do with the scurrilous rumours that old man Skelton has been circulating about me – though maybe he should read this and take it as a warning. No, I’ve developed a reputation for writing books with graphic violence in them. I’ve thrown people from the top of the Scott Monument and described the aftermath – “skin hanging like bloody streamers from some of the bones” – had an editor assassinated by a sniper – “blood seeping through bone-white fingers like oil” – and put Doug at the mercy of Edinburgh’s most feared gangster – “a cadaverous-looking man- waxy jaundiced skin pulled tight over high cheekbones”. In all honesty, it’s not something I’ve thought much about. Until now. Last week, I was a Noir at the Bar in Edinburgh, a semi-regular event where writers meet up with readers and read sections of their work. I chose the start of The Storm, and the assassination of my editor and, after I’d finished, was asked by the host of the evening, Jacky Collins, if it was a struggle to write such visceral, intense violence. My answer seemed to shock some of the audience more than the reading- no and, to be honest, it can be quite good fun. Working out a fight scene or an execution or a murder, then writing it as honestly and unflinchingly as you can, can be a cathartic experience- and, as a writer, it’s a challenge you should never shy away from. And there’s an inherent duty on you as a writer to be brutal with your violence, to shock and disturb the reader. Why? Because crime and violence are shocking and brutal and disturbing, and if you’re using them, even for the purposes of entertainment in a book, then you have a duty to show the reader that, to show that actions have consequences, that the aftershocks of violence ripple and affect the lives of others. That said, there is a fine line to be drawn. While I enjoy writing violence and graphic scenes that I suppose could verge on the border of horror, I’m always aware that they have to serve the plot. There is a fine line between being honest and being schlocky – when what you’re writing stops serving the plot and starts serving a base, salacious desire for violent titillation. There’s an entire genre that’s sprung up around torture porn, and I’ve no interest in that. For me, violence is a means to an end, an implement to get across a point to the reader and further the plot. If a brutal murder serves the story, then in it goes. If I’m writing it just for the sake of it, then I’ve crossed the line and I’m failing in my duty to the book and the reader who’s placed enough faith in me to go on the journey that I’m taking them on. So before you report me to that psychologist, before you reach for the strait jacket, remember that I’m only using violence for your own good. Which is exactly the line I’m going to use on Skelton the next time I see him…
Gulp – feeling slightly afraid for Douglas Skelton now! Thank you for that fabulous guest post Neil!
Readers please don’t worry though – I have read all of Neil’s books and yes there is violence but it ALWAYS fits into the story line and is not simply there for the sake of it! Trust me – the Doug McGregor series is brilliant and I would urge you to read it now!
Neil Broadfoot worked as a journalist for 15 years at both national and local newspapers, including The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Evening News, covering some of the biggest stories of the day. A poacher turned gamekeeper, he has since moved into communications: providing media relations advice for a variety of organisations, from emergency services to high-profile sporting clubs in Scotland.
Neil is married to Fiona and a father to two girls, meaning he’s completely outnumbered in his own home. He lives in Dunfermline, the setting for his first job as a local reporter. Falling Fast, which was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize, is his first novel.
A wee throw back to review for Neil’s books from me
To buy some books from Neil then jump over to Amazon and get clicking!