Why did you write that?

Warning: this post has references to violence in books that you may find distressing.

It’s always interesting, eye-opening and exciting to receive feedback from readers. 

One reader recently told me that they loved All Fall Down but (yep, there’s often a but!) there was one scene that really affected them. Without going into too much detail, one of the characters in the book attacks a homeless guy’s dog. This is a graphic scene and the reader in question asked me why I had put it in the book, wondering if it really needed to be there. 

(For those who’ve not yet read All Fall Down, you can get a signed, dedicated copy with FREE UK shipping direct from my store, or order it from your local bookstore here

This gave me the opportunity to explain the motivation for this particular scene and why it was in the book. 

I’ve been reading horror books since I was a teenager. I remember once my dad took some books back to the library as I had brought home titles that were pretty extreme. I think I was about 12 when I brought home The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty! Unlike films, books aren’t rated, so the librarian didn’t blink. 

This love of horror and the macabre led me to binge read all the major horror authors, your King’s, Koontz’s and Barker’s. (The latter also had a huge influence on my art, another story for another time.) One of my favourite go-to horror authors is Shaun Hutson. 

Hutson often has scenes in his novels that are hard to read. They’re like the supposed car-crash; you don’t want to look but some dark part of you cannot help it. Hutson has written certain scenes that have become iconic to his fans. One is of a cat being crucified by a gang of teens with a nail gun. 

Why would someone want to read these things? Or perhaps more poignantly, why would someone choose to write this stuff?

On the former, I give the car-crash theory; it satisfies some dark part of ourselves. With fiction it is, of course, more pleasurable as it is made up. On the latter; I can only speak from my experience but it isn’t ‘me’ that writes it. This isn’t an excuse! When I write, I ‘see’ the action in my mind’s-eye and I simply write it down. Maybe for other authors it is the same? 

Back to the scene in All Fall Down my reader wrote to me about. This was a homage to Hutson, yet not a scene I set out to write. When it fell onto the page one day, it fitted the character perpetrating the violence. It was the kind of act that he would do. It fitted him like a well-worn pair of Levi’s.  

Yet, I did see how it could be a scene that almost didn’t belong in the final book. Yet somehow it did. Sometimes that square peg does fit the round hole. In fiction anyway. 

Have you read All Fall Down? If so, please do let me know what bits you liked and what you didn’t. Once you know my motivation for why certain scenes happened, or why certain characters acted the way they did, it makes for a deeper understanding and perhaps a new perspective on the story itself. 

And its author!

Read All Fall Down today. It’s been called ‘Unputdownable‘, ‘5-Stars‘, ‘Superb‘ and ‘Thrilling from beginning to end’ by readers. What will you think?