The paperback, from Harper Collins, will be available in January 2013.
This week you can win one of TWO signed copies of The Istanbul Puzzle, the first novel in the series, by sharing this post. The paperback will be posted to anywhere in the world.
Please comment below to notify me that you have shared this post or linked to it in Twitter, Facebook or on your blog.
Last week 35 people entered. I used www.random.org to pick a number between 1 and 35 and Mark Tapson came up as the winner. You can enter again by sharing again (new winners each week) and this week you will have 2 chances to win!
Please do not buy The Jerusalem Puzzle if you are easily offended!
It includes references to Jesus’ trial, an attempt to extract revenge on a religious institution in Jerusalem and child abuse. Whatever you think of it, good or bad, I hope you will review it on Amazon.
And if you read The Istanbul Puzzle please go to Amazon and review it there too. It has attracted a few attacks recently.
The image below is of a street leading to the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the old city of Jerusalem in the early morning. Sean passes this way in The Jerusalem Puzzle.
Thank you everyone for your continuing support on this journey! I await your comments and shares and the reviews!
This is the final post in this series, created as a lead in the launch of The Jerusalem Puzzle ebook on Monday Dec 3rd. We have had:
and now this final post in the series.
Foreshadowing, for me, comes in two forms. The first is the simple, “something different was about to happen” phrase inserted in the text, which makes the reader wonder what is about to happen. I recommend doing this only very occasionally.
I think I use this explicit form of foreshadowing only twice in The Jerusalem Puzzle. The reason you can’t use it very often is that readers get tired of such things very easily. Explicit foreshadowing loses its appeal very quickly.
The second type of foreshadowing is a general foreshadowing brought about by the plot. For instance, if the main character is going to Jerusalem to investigate the disappearance of someone he knows, then the reader will naturally anticipate what will happen next. This subtle foreshadowing is useful because it uses the reader’s imagination. It’s not just plot driven novels that use subtle foreshadowing, literary novels use it too. When any change or event is anticipated in the text you are using foreshadowing.
Inspiring anticipation is a critical aspect of writing compelling fiction in my opinion. Anticipation is, for me, one of the greatest pleasures of being alive. Looking forward to Christmas, a holiday, a big game, a night out, a family event, an election, are what keeps many of us going through the hum drum nature of everyday life. If you can inspire anticipation in your writing, by hinting at what is to come, you will have cracked a powerful technique to make people read on. And I use make deliberately.
I hope you have enjoyed this series. If you would like to order The Jerusalem Puzzle please click one of the links to the right. Next week I will post about the secrets revealed in The Jerusalem Puzzle. Thanks for coming here.
“I opened the door. The woman standing outside in the rain had a small black gun in her hand. It gleamed. She smiled, then put the gun to her forehead. I put my hand out to grab it.” (1)
This is an action opening to a short story. I know not everyone likes a story to start with action, but many people do. The action mightn’t be about a gun though, It could be about something else:
“I opened the door. The woman standing outside in the rain had an envelope in her hand. It was wet. She smiled, held the envelope out. I put my hand out to grab it.” (2)
This opening has almost as much impact as the gun opening in my opinion, but the impact is psychological now. Let’s try another way to get action into an opening:
“I opened the door. The woman standing outside in the rain was dripping from every extremity. She smiled. “I’ve been looking for you,” she said. I had no idea who she was.” (3)
This third opening isn’t about giving something physical, but it is about a possible moment of real change in someone’s life. What about a fourth type of action:
“I opened the door. The woman standing outside in the rain was naked. Her eyes were wide. Her hands covered herself. “Please, I need to hide,” she said. Her voice quivered as she spoke.” (4)
This one had an emotional impact, I hope. What about this final one:
“I opened the door. The woman standing there laughed. The rain bounced off her. ‘If you abuse another female character in a story, I’m going to come and get you,” she said” (5)
This is more of an experimental meta-fictional type opening.
I wonder would you mind picking which opening you prefer?
If you leave a brief comment below and come back late December, to give plenty of time for some responses, or simply sign up for updates above right, the most popular opening will have a short story created around it.
Please also comment below on using action as an opening technique.
This is the second in a series of four posts in the run up to the launch of The Jerusalem Puzzle on ebook December 3rd and in paperback in many countries January 3rd.
Author of The Istanbul Puzzle, Laurence O’Bryan, discussed some literary mysteries with Independent.ie’s Kevin Flanagan as part of the UNESCO City of Literature series of events in Dublin at Freemasons’ Hall, Molesworth Street, Dublin in late 2012.
For any of you who didn’t make it below is the Q&A I prepared. There were some extra questions on the night, and a reading of Chapters One from The Jerusalem puzzle, but you will get a good idea of the event from this post:
Kevin: Are you a freemason, Laurence?
Laurence: No, but I want to thank the organisation for allowing us to use their building this evening. I find this hall fascinating. The whole building is a museum, an architectural gem of Victorian Dublin. The relevance of Masonry is not for me to make any judgements on, but I think if we knew more about their historical role in Ireland’s affairs it would be a good thing.
Kevin: Would you consider yourself to be writing literary mysteries?
Laurence: Yes. Mysteries are distinguished by the reader not knowing what is going to happen or who murdered the victim. Mysteries often start with a murder as The Istanbul Puzzle does. Stories which are mostly thrillers look forward to an event, an assassination for instance, and make you want to read on to find out will it happen. These are the traditional definitions of these two categories of crime novels.
Kevin: Is the mystery novel worthy of a place in the canons of literature?
Laurence: I will quote something from a book called The Technique of the Mystery Story. “A liking for mystery is not a mark of poor taste or an indication of inferior intellect. Its readers form an audience greatly misunderstood by other literary people, whose mentality lacks this bent. But what especial audience is not misunderstood. Do not many people say to music lovers, “I don’t see how you can sit through Parsifal? Do not some scoff at people who trail through art galleries, catalogue in hand?”
Kevin: When was that written?
Laurence: 1913. And it goes on to say, “Supercilious persons who profess to have a high regard for the dignity of literature are loath to admit that detective stories belong to the category of serious writing.” So there has been a long debate about the place of the mystery story in literature. That tract went on to say “We must consider the rightful place of the mystery story in fiction. It is neither below nor above the other types of story, but side by side with character studies, society sketches or symbolic romances.”
Kevin: Let’s move forward a little. What is this mystery about the Big Sleep?
Laurence: Raymond Chandler is acknowledged as one of the finest crime and mystery writers. He wrote novels, and for Hollywood. The Big Sleep with Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart is perhaps his best known movie. The mystery for me and a lot of other people, was who killed the Sternwood family chauffeur, Owen Taylor in the movie. The story goes that in 1946 when the novel was being directed by Howard Hawks, it had been published in 1939, he got into an argument with Humphrey Bogart about who killed Owen, so they telegrammed Raymond Chandler to ask him. He replied, by telegram, “Damned if I know”.
William Faulkner had also worked on that script, but Chandler didn’t blame him, he stood his ground. And there was no reason for Philip Marlow, the private detective at the centre of The Big Sleep to know who killed Owen, so he didn’t feel it necessary to explain every loose ending.
This is one of the aspects of the Philip Marlow books that I like. Every loose end isn’t tied up. Every crime isn’t paid for. It’s true to life in that we don’t get answers to all the questions around us, we have to make do with the little glimpses of the truth we spy now and again.
Kevin: Is that what your novels are like?
Laurence: Yes. Not all the riddles are answered, but the big ones are. By the way The Big Sleep was Lauren Bacall’s renaissance movie. If she hadn’t done well in it she might have been dropped. Some scenes were rewritten and expanded just for her after the test screenings. And she did contribute a good deal to what is now considered one of Holywood’s finest movies.
Kevin: What other mysteries can you tell us about?
Laurence: One that has always intrigued me was who was Godot, in waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett’s world famous play.
Kevin: So what’s your theory?
Laurence: Godot has been suggested to be God, a rich employer or a rescuer of some kind. Hope seems the most likely answer to me, Samuel Becket himself said if he knew who Godot was he would have said so in the play. Perhaps we are all waiting for our own version of Godot. Perhaps waiting is the essence of what it is to be human. If it is, then mystery stories fit in very well with it all. We are waiting to find out the answer to the puzzle of life.
Kevin: So is there a hidden meaning to these puzzle novels you are writing?
Laurence: I’m not sure. Meaning are emerging afterwards. The Istanbul Puzzle, for instance, could be said, on one level, the metaphorical level. to be about the search for love and the value of relationships. The Jerusalem Puzzle, coming out Dec 3rd on ebook and Jan 3rd in paperback, could be considered to be about historical secrets.
Kevin: What historical secrets?
Laurence: Well, I will give you a clue, it’s about the meaning of the symbol they find in The Istanbul Puzzle.
Laurence: The symbol is not one of these masonic symbols. It’s a square with an arrow inside. Let me just say this one thing more about it. Imagine what you would think if you saw such a symbol in real life, what it would mean.
Kevin: So that’s all you’re going to tell us?
Laurence: That’s the second clue I have given out about this symbol.
Kevin: Can you tell us where your puzzle series of novels will end up?
Laurence: In Ireland of course.
Kevin: Just to get back to our theme. What is your next literary mystery?
Laurence: What happened to Moriarty, the arch criminal in the Sherlock Holmes stories. Moriarty was believed by the Jesuits at Stoneyhurst in Lancashire, England, to be a Prefect of Discipline there, a priest there where Conan Doyle went to Stoneyhurst as a wayward student. Two students were also named Moriarty at the time Doyle was there.
Actually Moriarty made an appearance in only one Sherlock Holmes novel up to that point, The Final Solution, and the intention seems to have been that his appearance came about to enable Doyle to kill Holmes off, as no greater task would present itself to Holmes than ridding the world of this master criminal.
Moriarty was the crime lord of England to whom many great crimes were attributed and to whom other criminals paid tribute in exchange for his protection. He and Holmes fall over the Reichenbach Falls together in Switzerland, apparently to their death at the end of The Final Solution.
Doyle was forced though in 1905 to publish the Return of Sherlock Holmes after a campaign by his readers to revive the detective after he had been killed off in 1893. Holmes, according to Doyle in The Return of Sherlock Holmes, survived the fall, but Moriarty didn’t. He then went into hiding to avoid Moriarty’s henchmen.
There is a theory though that Moriarty survived as well. Whether he survived a hundred years to be reborn in the BBC1 series Sherlock is another matter. We are still waiting to see how the death of Holmes, his suicide this time, will be resolved in Series Three of Sherlock. Holmes, by the way, is the most commonly portrayed character on screen with over 250 screen adaptations in the past one hundred years.
I for one believe Moriarty is still alive. If Sherlock Holmes survived then so did Moriarty.
The final cover of The Jerusalem Puzzle has been released. Here it is side by side with The Istanbul Puzzle cover. I hope you like it.
What I am trying to work out is what colour should the next novel in the series, The Manhattan Puzzle, be. Any suggestions?
I completed the latest draft of The Jerusalem Puzzle two weeks ago.
On Monday the 3rd September I will start a 2 week edit of the complete 400 pages, incorporating some major changes as inspired by my new editor at Harper Collins.
The suggestions were general, think more about the ending, the relationship. They have challenged me to add depth to the relationship between Sean and Isabel and to heighten the ending to include something even more dramatic, which will resonate beyond the book itself.
I like the challenge of being edited. The first emotional reaction is to resent any interference and to fear the work involved in making the changes, but soon after I saw the benefits that these changes will bring.