Wednesday, November 9, 2011
No Rules: CHARLIE WILLIAMS
CHARLIE WILLIAMS pens the black-as-pitch but funny-as-hell adventures of Royston Blake, the maniacal bouncer/half-baked tough guy/ne'er-do-well of the town of Mangel. These books are amazing fun, and unique in that Royston narrates in his hypnotic lower-class Brit dialect. I always find myself reading them out-loud.
But as fun as the Blake novels are, there's more to Mr. Williams than that, as evidenced by his new book, GRAVEN IMAGE, now available on e-readers everywhere and also as a traditional, you know, book.
I'm very pleased to have CHARLIE WILLIAMS here at Psycho-Noir today...
Cutting the brush
I've got a thing about genre. Or rather, I haven't. My thing is that I always thought I was in one genre, then somehow engineered a move into a different one. Then I found it hard to stay in that genre, and kept slipping back into the former one. Then a third genre reared its pretty head and beckoned me.
Fact is, I don't really give much of a shit what genre my stuff is. Genre is for publishers and readers, not authors. As far as I am concerned, all I have to do is get the stories down in the best way possible, making them as good as they can be. Who cares what genre they are? Maybe I should. Maybe, if I had made more of an effort to keep my novella GRAVEN IMAGE in the crime camp, it might reach more readers. But that would make it a different book, and probably not as good a one.
I have tried writing straight crime. I even tried to write some sort of generic thriller once, with a detective and some bad guys and a single-parent damsel in distress who the 'tec doesn't know whether to protect or sweep off her feet. But I couldn't stay interested in the po-faced-ness of it all. Whenever a serious moment cropped up where the narrator had to do some moralising, he would get an insatiable urge to drink massive amounts of rough cider and go on a spontaneous killing spree - using a random item of garden machinery.
And I knew why this was: he was making up for all those pages of playing the good boy, toeing the line and being the problem-solving hero. That is not what I'm interested in. I like main characters who are fucked up, whether they know it or not. I want to show how fallible we are, and how laughable our self-images are. If that detective of mine had just been a bit more laid back and honest with himself in the first half of the book - if he had tortured that witness just a little instead of reasoning with him, or hopped into the sack with Ms Damsel at the first opportunity instead of sticking to some code - the killing spree might have been avoided. Brush-cutters would have remained un-primed, lives would have been saved.
(Shit, why didn't I finish that book?)
So yeah, Graven Image, which is what I intended to write about here. It's crime, but it doesn't really stick to the tropes. The hero is a bouncer, but he is also something else, something you will have to read the thing to find out. And maybe you won't do that, knowing now that this is a book that is likely to veer away from crime. But I'm also hedging that you will, seeing as this here blog is concerned with a sub-genre called "Psycho Noir". And if I had to nail my stuff to a genre, psycho noir is pretty much what I would choose. But I can't do that, because it would be tempting fate. I would be damning myself to a subconscious struggle to break free from the confines of the psycho noir genre.
So if you should read a historical romance in a year or so featuring a brush-cutter death scene, that'll be me (under a pen name).