Saturday, 11 June 2016

Clink Street Summer Blogival - Guest Post: On Track for Murder by Stephen Childs

Clink Street's Blogival is happening throughout June.

Follow the stops with the calendar below:
Today I am hosting a guest post from Stephen Childs, author of On Track for Murder.
About On Track for Murder:
 Blurb from Goodreads:
Her father stabbed to death, her brother caught with the bloody murder weapon, and her stepmother suspiciously missing: eighteen year old Abigail Sergeant is forced into a dangerous cross country adventure to uncover the truth and bring the real killer to justice.

Travelling from England to Australia in the late nineteenth-century, Abigail and her naive younger brother hope that reuniting with their father — and his new wife — will offer them security. What awaits them on the shores of the Swan River dashes any prospects of a blissful life.

Discovering her father murdered and her brother seemingly caught red handed, Abigail’s life is thrown into turmoil. The police are convinced of Bertrand’s guilt, but Abigail is determined to prove his innocence, whatever it takes. The only thing that the now insensible Bertrand will say about the murder is that their step-mother, Frances, knows what really happened.

Frances, however, has fled south to Albany, a port from which she plans to board a ship bound for New Zealand. With time running out, Abigail persuades the police to let her follow Frances, but only if she is chaperoned by the reluctant Constable Ridley Dunning. Embarking on a heroic train journey across Western Australia, Abigail faces deception, kidnap, sabotage and arson, forcing her to draw on a resolve she didn’t know she possessed. But will that be enough to save her brother from injustice?
About the Author
 Born in Ealing, West London, Stephen Childs immigrated with his family to New Zealand in the 1970s. He has enjoyed a long career in the film and television industry. After a serious health scare in 2005, Childs’ view of life changed. He briefly went into politics as a parliamentary candidate in the national elections, standing against the now New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key. The drive to pursue new challenges prompted Childs to relocate to Western Australia, where he now lives in Joondalup, north of Perth, with his family and two cats. In his spare time, Childs enjoys exploring the great Australian outdoors and studying genealogy.  

            The ‘What IF’ factor.            

Stephen Childs - Author of On Track for Murder.

I have just survived the experience of being a stay at home father for two weeks of school holidays. When I say survived, that’s merely how it feels. To be fair there was no naughty behaviour, were no pranks or practical jokes. Just endless questions: What would you do if …? What would happen if …? And a constant stream of stories prefaced with the phrase: Imagine that there was a …

As I listened, pushing down the urge to enforce peace and quiet, I became aware that my twelve year old son was exhibiting the very same traits I possessed at his age. I vividly recall regaling my parents with tall stories of railway disasters and hordes of spacemen appearing over a nearby hill. 

A smile now grows on my face as I listen to my son with renewed ears. We took a car journey over the break. A form of literary battle ensued whereby each took turns adding new scenes to a growing story. I assumed I would be victorious and prepared to lighten my ideas to match his twelve year old mind. Boy, was I in for a surprise. I think the innocence of youth afforded him a much richer palette. No logic would ever impede the progress of the story. I loved the experience. 

As I pondered that holiday trip it reminded me that what we do in life has a huge influence over how we see things. The more we live, the more we are affected. 

In the business world my writing and editing is all about removing ambiguity. Rereading every passage, searching for any possibility of misinterpretation. I have always felt this 'quest for communication using a single unquestionable message' tainted creativity. Logic being the best way to kill a fanciful idea.
Yet, through my holiday experience I realised there was one question that drove my childhood propensity for story telling, and it remains with me today. That question: what if? 

In the business world, ‘what if’ leads to the discovery of ambiguity. It helps uncover the sidetracks that lead to confusion and poor decision making.

In fiction it offers storylines that push the boundaries of logic. Scenarios that take a protagonist out of the everyday and push them headlong down an uncertain route. The question gives you permission to seek out the obscure and use it to engage the reader.

I had allowed myself to be trapped by the thinking that logical business writing adversely affected my fiction work. I now see this is not true. Both utilise the same underlying premise. They are successful because they share a common base. The exploration of, ‘what if?’