Time travelling for beginners
Imagine being able to go back in time and see a snap shot, no, more than a snap shot, of the world, thirty years ago. Not just the world, but your own space; the world you lived in. Many will not have been born, of course, but the premise holds.
Bizarrely, I feel that this is exactly what I have done, by re-mastering my original crime novels published in the early 1990's, set in the late eighties. Not merely reading the novels, but adding scenes, character traits, and even some new characters. It's a strange, but interesting thing to do; being able to alter time without the butterfly effect.
As a writer you immediately realise how much you have grown, both as a person, and as an author. It comes so much easier. I wondered why this was? Is it just the wisdom of age? I doubt it, I know people who haven't learned anything in the last thirty years, yet they are older and some are just as daft as they have ever been. It is, I believe, to some extent down to the feeling of invincibility as a younger person. When I wrote my first novel, I was the tender age of twenty seven, and despite wrangling baby twins at the time, I was still relatively unscathed from life's torment. I had the advantage, if you can call it that, of having seen more of life's shitty underbelly than most. I had been in the police for nearly ten years, and had experienced the death, and horrors, but as something of a spectator, albeit one trying to help. But I had not yet been touched by the fickle finger of fate. I hadn't tasted it personally and these are very different things. My detective experiences, despite me being such a young person, not only helped me to get published, but to be shortlisted for the prestigious John Creasey Award for best first crime novel, and receive amazing reviews in The Times and Sunday Express. Something was functioning correctly it seems. This does not mean of course that anyone who has a bit of life experience as a cop, or a nurse, or a trauma doctor can write a novel. I think that is a given. In the same way that an academic cannot necessarily welcome you into a story merely by knowing where to put an Oxford comma, or a semi colon. (Let me know if you find out).
So what struck me about being a detective in the 1980's? The good news was that it was all there for me to dig into; scored upon the written page for posterity. There is the obvious stuff, such as lack of political correctness; it was seen as a bit of a fad at the time, it seems to have grown in popularity since. I must admit some of the stuff surprised me, and I have left parts of it in the re-vamped books, to acknowledge that ignorance existed, in the period piece, that it now is.
Having no internet, and no mobile phones was both a blessing and a curse. Things were much slower, but you had more autonomy. You did not have the ability to seek advice all the time, when things got tricky. You were it, my friend. At least in the opening moments. The important bit. Radio's were dodgy. Home telephones were okay, if someone was waiting on the other end. Someone with a knife in their back? What are you going to do? Two people both die independently in a house. Suspicious? What are you going to do? 'Are these two blokes allowed to leave the scene? They say you can't keep them here.' What are you going to do. And so it goes on.
There was no 'escape hatch' option that you could dial for a 'get out of jail free' card. It made you grow, and matured you much quicker, I would say.
AIDS was a big, big, thing, which thankfully has pretty much been conquered, but back in the day it was a real and present danger for all of us; but obviously to a greater extent for gay people and injecting drug users. People discovered a new word - 'Condom' instead of the more colloquial 'rubber johnny!' It is fantastic that we don't have that concern today.
Steven King recommends that writers might want to leave a WIP for six months, and go back to it. I can recommend this, indeed thirty years makes quite a difference. As I read a piece and remember, I can sometimes recall what was in my mind, and when adding to the piece it turns out to be very similar, in many cases, and then other times I am screaming at the book at an obvious miss! But wait! I can remedy this, because I have travelled back in time.
So, if you have the inclination to have a look on Kindle and Amazon on 1st June 2019 and beyond, you will be able to share this interesting experience. The second book is well on it's way to be completed and will follow shortly in it's wake. There are another three to follow that, and no doubt more.
I may write about further discoveries about this subjec,t as I continue with the remaining books and more is revealed on this, almost alien, world. I am fortunate that I do not have to rely on recall, or what I imagined it was like. It is already there for posterity; it just needs a bit of a tickle.
The Internet has prompted me to re-visit my books, with Kindle and Amazon opening up writing like never before. It's been more of a journey than I anticipated - like time travelling for beginners.