Writing The Meanest Flood
The Meanest Flood is the sixth novel in the Sam Turner Series and was born out of a cocktail of ideas. The main aim when I began the narrative was to get Sam and Geordie away from York. To give them an outing away from their usual surroundings. This came from a preoccupation with the sense of place in the novel, and also gave me the opportunity of exploring and researching a new town. Oslo, in Norway.
I was also interested in magic, the idea of enchantment – what does it mean? And I’d been reading around the subject, coming closer to the themes of illusion and sorcery. There have been governments – too many in recent years – which have become expert at making people disappear. And it seemed to me that the western democracies were also becoming far too skilled in the art of illusion.
But writing itself is one of the magic arts. The writer is a master of illusion and if he does not manage to enchant us we don’t finish reading his book.
From the very beginnings of the novel it was clear that one of the main characters would be a magician.
This theme was augmented by the concept of memory and how it seems to be under attack in our time. The exercises which were associated with memory, that made it subtle and retentive in the education of children before the introduction of curricula based teaching, the imaginative play of the old schools – are all gone. Memory is being abolished. We are dependant instead on the state and the database and those who control access to information.
The third ingredient of the cocktail was the concept of the flood. There have always been floods, and in recent years some quite devastating ones. I read Noah.
I was aware that many contemporary novelists had written novels about floods and about water and I didn’t want to duplicate what they had done. So, although the rivers are flooding in the novel, they also have their echoes in the characters of the novel. The rivers are flooding their banks but at the same time the characters in the novel are being swamped by the turn of events around them.
It was a good experience, writing the book. It took quite a lot longer to write than previous novels in the series, and I allowed myself time to develop the themes and the characters and the plot. There’s something dark in there, and here and there there’s something lighter. Shades are important. There’s magic and some new characters that I honestly didn’t want to leave behind.
Writing The Meanest Flood left me with a host of new ideas and a thirst to get on with writing something else. And that’s what I’m going to do next.