Today as a part of the blog tour for Circles of Deceit by Paul CW Beatty. He will be sharing about On the Incongruity of being a Novelist.
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.
On the Incongruity of being a Novelist
‘You’ve written a book? How on earth did you manage that?’ people often ask me. It is at least an honest reaction to me saying I am an author.
Far better than ‘Oh really. I’ve always wanted to do that,’ which really means, I’ve never wanted do anything of the sort and you’re boring.’
Or the glassy eyed reaction after I’ve said, ‘I write historical murder stories set in Victorian England — 1840’s to be precise.’
The fact is, that where could any author start to answer such open-ended questions? There are so many bits of information that add up to compelling someone to write a book, like my current novel, Circles of Deceit. I’ll get back to that.
If I begin at the beginning, then I suppose my greatest influence was my father. I couldn’t get to sleep easily when I was a child, a problem that persisted until I was nearly eleven. My father would read aloud to me from suitable children’s books or books that told the stories of Greece and Rome, and later from encyclopaedias, until finally he would read from the latest serious library book he was studying for his postal courses.
The effects were twofold. In the case of the storybooks and books of myth, I learned to love the unfolding of a story, as well as appreciating the sound of words in my ears. Dad’s endeavours also made me realise that reading books was the access point to learning, and the possibility of a better job than my parents, or in fact anyone else in my family, had ever had. Maybe, just maybe, a job that would mean going to university.
Years after, I got a degree in Physics from University College London. I became a Medical Engineer in the NHS and worked in medical research. A steady job, well yes and no. For those of you who watched Big Bang Theory, engineers are not in England inferior to science graduates. In fact, they aren’t in American universities either — damn it I’ve been invited to lecture at the Harvard Medical School!
Yes, I know, what’s this got to do with writing books. Writing books, book chapters and scientifical papers are all important parts of being a scientist. But that’s not the same as writing a novel. In science what you write is about discovering the truth. It’s about experiment, hypothesis and new ways of approaching problems. In that way scientific writing shares narrative with writing fiction. But stories are imaginative narratives.
If an author chooses to write historical fiction, there are issues of research similar to science, to make sure that the plot and setting are historically accurate or at least plausible. The discipline of science research, when looking at what other scientists say, is just as relevant when it comes to conclusions about how historians interpret past events.
I never lost my childhood appreciation of story but ten years or so ago, I took a degree in Creative Writing. Hence Circles of Deceit the second in an intended series of a Victorian crime stories stretching from 1841 to 1851, from the period of political unrest and a shaky start to Victoria’s reign, to the great Exhibition and the cementing the security of Great Britain as the world’s dominant manufacturing power as well as the security of the Victorian regal dynasty.
Circles of Deceit is set in one of the most tumultuous upheavals of that time, where poverty and hunger in the working classes motivated a series of strikes in different industries, which became one united General Strike. The conflict between the established government spilled over into a conflict between those with power and wealth, and those without access to a proper democratic parliament, the Chartist movement. My characters, I hope, reflect what happen to different people in that period. Read and enjoy.
About the Author:
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.
Contact Paul CW Beatty: