Friday, May 31, 2013

Chris Angus – The Feel of a Story

at 6:00 AM

The Feel of a Story

by Chris Angus 

I’m often asked how I begin a book. Where do I get my ideas? The answer I give rarely seems to satisfy. I like to feel my way into a story. No outlines, no plots micromanaged to the last syllable, no series or recurring characters. I spend months gathering notes and clipping articles about things that have interested me. Or perhaps some researched item from a past book strikes a note and I think I might expand it into a story that will resonate.

I may set my books in parts of the world I’ve visited, such as London Underground, or I may choose to set them in places I’ve never been but would like to explore someday. If enough people buy them, I may get the chance. Readers sometimes ask how I can write about places I’ve never been. Sure, it’s more of a challenge and requires more research. But I take pride in being as accurate as I can. I’ve also never been a woman. Does that mean I can’t write about them? I’ve never been an alcoholic. Does that make it impossible to get inside their heads? I’ve never killed anyone. Does that mean I can’t write about what a killer feels?

I tend to like cold, desolate places. Perhaps it has to do with my Scottish ancestry. So I’ve set books in Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Africa and the Taklamakan desert of central China. I enjoy varying time periods as well. Books or parts of books have taken place 10,000 years in the past, in Victorian England, during the pre-World War II colonial era in Africa, in London during the Blitz and in an ancient Buddhist monastery in the year 75 A.D.

One place I have visited a lot is London. I’m an Anglophile who finds British history about the most interesting there is. That this small country could have such an overwhelming impact on human history is mind boggling. Scenes from many of my books have been set in London. With London Underground, I decided it was time to devote an entire thriller to the great city. Still, I needed an angle. Everyone, even those who have never been to London, knows a lot about the city’s history. So I wanted to find a part of that history that most would not have come across. That led me to the world below ground. Subterranean rivers, Roman ruins, ancient bones and relics from medieval times and the war cabinet rooms of Winston Churchill all provided a new perspective on the city.

Ever notice how many adventure movies take place in underground tunnels? Whether vampires, Nazis, mad scientists or aliens, somehow they all end up underground chasing or being chased down long, dark corridors. I’m especially fond of all those police and medical procedurals where some lone woman is being pursued down endless corridors in a big city hospital that is, miraculously, deserted. When have you ever seen a deserted hospital, even in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve?

I write to tell a great story and to connect that story to events in history, which brings it alive to the reader. At the same time, I try to keep myself interested by injecting fascinating events or science or places. If I can’t put the book down, I hope you won’t be able to either.

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Genre – Thriller

Rating – PG

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