Paying a return visit today is local author John Mayer. John took part in my author spotlight recently which you can read here and today he is sharing a guest piece on how he goes about writing his Parliament House novels.
Feelings Images and Words
The Parliament House Books series is centred around two places: Parliament House which sits grandly up the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and the Calton Bar in the East End of Glasgow.
I grew up in Glasgow near the Calton Bar and later practised law as an Advocate in Parliament House for over twenty years, so I know every life-story about everyone in my books: especially the low-life in high places in the old town of Edinburgh. I also of course, know the history of the 500 year old Parliament House in Edinburgh. Believe me, if the walls of Parliament House could talk, they could write the Parliament House Books. There is a Calton Bar in the Calton in Glasgow, which I use fictitiously. Most of the old Calton is demolished now, but the spirit of the people remains when they gather in the Calton Bar.
So, how do I write these stories? Well, firstly let me say that I have no typical day. That’s because I write in a very untypical way. I don’t plot, I don’t plan and I don’t have a standard box of tricks to use as twists near the end. So I hope my books don’t read like anybody else’s work. I start with a single very important word in my head. Just look at the titles of The Parliament House Books and you’ll see what I mean: Cross, Cycle, Boots, Trial, Order, Bones, Trust. Each of these five-letter words is a starting point for a legal case or scenario to which I know the ending. I put word No1 on a page and then sort of think and feel my way towards the end. My chapters are based on two things: how my characters’ legal case is progressing and how they feel about their scary situation. I therefore don’t so much ‘write’ in the normal sense: I turn feelings into words which, when strung together make images in the minds of my readers. That means I have to wait for the feeling in the next chapter to arise in me. I’ve found that can happen at any time of the day or night: and when it does, I go and use every ounce of my intellect, communication skills, knowledge, experience and talent to capture that feeling on my screen. Because my characters are actually feeling what I’m feeling at the time, I can portray their words as the image I want my readers to see. It is very satisfying to end a chapter either angry, in tears, punching the air or otherwise communing with Brogan McLane QC and his band of blood brothers.
My books are sequential. There are three Prequels and four Novels, so far. (Prequel 1) The Cross deals with the fateful night of Brogan McLane’s birth only half an hour after his father was murdered at a Rangers -v- Celtic match in 1971. (P2) The Cycle is about McLane’s ‘coming of age’ at 14 after watching a Trial in the Calton Bar (we do that in Glasgow) of a scumbag who sexually molested and robbed his mother. (P3) The Boots is about his first case as an Advocate in Parliament House where he cleverly makes some new law.
The Trial (Novel 1) sees Brogan McLane, Advocate, really feel the wrath of the low life in high places in the old town. The Order (Novel 2) is about how low the judicial and political elite in Edinburgh will go to make sure they pay not a penny in tax. The Bones (Novel 3) is about prejudice in court against the lower classes: good and bad people alike. If you thought all accused persons were ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and that was the law of the land, then you have a lot to learn about the realities of the Criminal Courts.
I’ve wanted to write The Parliament House Books for many years, but I waited until I could retire from the practise of law and really give my writing the time and effort it deserves. I’ve spent decades writing complicated legal cases which had to be intellectually tight but also easily understood at the first reading. I became very good at it. That skill has transferred into my novel writing. I think without such skill, I’d be a lesser writer. I’m delighted to say that my Amazon Reviews have truly humbled me. When people read my work and say it’s better than Grisham, better than Scott Turow and that I’m a master storyteller, I feel their appreciation very deeply. To everyone who has read The Parliament House Books and to everyone who wants to, I say ‘Thank You’ from a grateful author.
Social media and contact links
TWITTER URL https://twitter.com/johnmay erauthor
Author page on Goodreads http://tinyurl.com/glay5ou
Amazon page John Mayer page