Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
I am very happy to welcome Paul CW Beatty here today and thank him for kindly answering my questions and letting me share his response with you. Read on to find out more about him, his writing and his book, Circles of Deceit.
Where did you get the inspiration for the book/series?
Inspiration comes in many guises some very artistic in their purpose, some plain straightforwardly pragmatic.
My principles are always that the story comes first, and that any story is not completed until the author has a reader. In other words, it’s a joint though not equal partnership. A masterpiece that is only read by a few, even if it is deemed a literary masterpiece, is not the sort of book I want to create.
This point of view drew me into thinking in terms of genre writing. From a choice of science fiction and murder mystery, murder mystery won. But I have a background of in science and engineering. If I wrote murder mysteries, I did not want my technical knowledge to draw me into being boringly scientific.
So I chose a time when police forces were only just emerging as we know them, when there were virtually no technologies of any use in crime investigation. A historical period somewhat politically like our own.
I chose the 1840’s which I had studied at school at O-level and which fascinated me then. It was a time of change and political reformation with Chartism and the Anti-Corn Law League pressing change on how politics were organised and representation of the people, against resistance of a political elite. A time of radicalism even in religion.
Plenty there to go at and all historically set on my doorstep in the Northwest of England.
What is your writing process?
That has changed as I have gone along. The first in the series Children of Fire I wrote chapter by chapter. I have been blessed that I have a starting scene and an ending scene, which imposes some character arc and development as well. But I wrote pretty much by the seat of my trousers, though the need to do research as I went along meant that structural development was imposed within that freewheeling approach.
When it came to writing Circles of Deceit I started to write in the same way. Again, I had the starting and ending scenes but as the plot developed the book stretched and stretched. It was clear that the book was heading for well over 150,000 words. In the end I took a deep breath and went to a book doctor, Eve Seymour, who gasped and said this is too long which I knew, and it needs more pace which I knew but didn’t really accept. I rewrote it hacking out chapters and scenes, increasing the pace and eventually Eve liked it.
So, what is my writing process now? For the third volume planning has started. This time though the arc of beginning and ending scenes have not deserted me each chapter is being planned and described in brief in Scrivener. What happens when the real writing starts I am yet to find out but I’m hopeful that it will be more measured and precise, but will still keep up an engaging pace.
Do you write using pen and paper or on a computer?
I write on a computer using Word and then transfer the chapter by chapter blocks to Scrivener for editing. I write poetry by hand in notebooks and usually in pencil, so it can be altered as it proceeds but for large chunks of texts it’s a word processor by choice.
Who is your favourite character out of your stories and why?
My favourite character has to be Josiah Ainscough, because of his diligence and sincerity. He has the high moral principles of a Methodist but is sensitive to the plight of his neighbours. He believes that justice should not be the privilege of the rich. He also falls in love despite his best endeavours not to do so which provides tension in that direction one way or another.
Josiah as a character was created well before I ever envisaged the series. He was in part of a time traveling children’s book. I liked him and so he was a ready-made choice for Children of Fire. He is an orphan of a Methodist couple and has been brought up by the Minister and his wife at the main church in Stockport at Tiviot Dale.
Surprisingly, he decides to join the new Stockport Police Force. (You’ll have to read Children of Fire if you want to know all his motivations to join the force.)
As Circles of Deceit starts, he is in trouble with the leader of Stockport police and leader of the watch Committee Mr Prestbury, who does not like non-conformists and especially Josiah in his force. Suspended by Stockport he is asked by Inspector Fidel of the Manchester Force to do some undercover protection work at a cotton mill near the Stockport Manchester boundary.
If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be?
Michael O’Carroll. Michael is the opposite of Josiah. A catholic for a start, with an interesting backstory in Irish nationalism, he became a friend to Josiah after the death of his mother who Michael considered his friend. He is drinker whereas Josiah is an abstainer, a teller of stories but a staunch friend and always brings a flash of bravura and daring when he appears.
How and why did you choose the names for your main characters?
Josiah Ainscough was a name that came about partly from Josiah, a Judean King in the Old Testament who restructured the law, an example that points to Josiah’s focus on justice. He first had the name Ainscow, until a friend suggested I should change it to Ainscough after the well-known north western crane firm called Ainscough Crane Hire.
Dianne Burrell echoes her down to earth roots in the emerging working class in the Manchester area, particularly in her organisation of women in the cotton industry. She is tall and beautiful and full of the ardour of the Roman Goddess of hunting and the moon. Burrell is a name that carries the weight in the trade union movement as well. A weaver all his life Phillip Burrell is a major force in union organisation.
Thank you so much for answering my questions – I really enjoyed reading your responses!
Read on to find out more about Circles of Deceit and its author…..
Murder, conspiracy, radicalism, poverty, riot, violence, capitalism, technology: everything is up for grabs in the early part of Victoria’s reign.
Radical politicians, constitutional activists and trade unionists are being professionally assassinated. When Josiah Ainscough of the Stockport Police thwarts an attempt on the life of the Chartist leader, Feargus O’Connor, he receives public praise, but earns the enmity of the assassin, who vows to kill him.
‘Circles of Deceit’, the second of Paul CW Beatty’s Constable Josiah Ainscough’s historical murder mysteries, gives a superb and electric picture of what it was to live in 1840s England. The novel is set in one of the most turbulent political periods in British history, 1842-1843, when liberties and constitutional change were at the top of the political agenda, pursued using methods fair or foul.
Author Bio –
Paul CW Beatty is an unusual combination of a novelist and a research scientist. Having worked for many years in medical research in the UK NHS and Universities, a few years ago he took an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University emerging with a distinction.
His latest novel, Children of Fire, is a Victorian murder mystery set in 1841 at the height of the industrial revolution. It won the Writing Magazine’s Best Novel Award in November 2017 and is published by The Book Guild Ltd.
Paul lives near Manchester in the northwest of England. Children of Fire is set against the hills of the Peak District as well as the canals and other industrial infrastructure of the Cottonopolis know as the City of Manchester.
Social Media Links – Twitter @cw_beatty