Monday, 1 December 2008

Alasdair Duncan reveals his Daemons

This week I'm taking the helm on the blog as Nic's away. Thankfully you're not stuck with me rambling on as Alasdair Duncan, writer of the upcoming album, Daemon, tells us some more about the story.

Revenge is sweet.
So thinks former pilot Guy Shearman as he festers in a hospital bed. Now a quadriplegic from a terrible accident, all that keeps him alive is seeking retribution on Andrea Robinson, the woman who put him into this state.

Only it’s not that simple.
Released from his living prison through the corruption of a medical research project, Guy discovers where the blame for the accident really lies.

Having seen what it can do and to stop his research falling into the wrong hands, project director Philip Bletchley unwittingly opens a door to a place where revenge is all. Taking pity on the countless victims locked in a senseless cycle of retribution he makes it his mission to lead them all to freedom, regardless of the consequences.

Fate decides the only two people who can understand this madness are Kelly, Bletchley’s assistant, and Andrea herself. But should they, or will they, shut Bletchley’s doors? As to do so they will need the help of the one person neither wants to deal with, Guy Shearman. Kelly was used and abused by him while Andrea lost her only daughter in the same accident which crippled Guy.

Revenge is not sweet.

Revenge is complicated.

Very complicated.

Daemon is pencilled by Daniel Lopez with letters by Nic Wilkinson and is due out in 2009.

I also managed to tear Alasdair away from his busy schedule to answer a few questions about the writing process in the following interview:

How did a writer of novels (and some described as ‘too polite’ at that) come to write a horror comic?

You can only spend so long banging your head against the same brick wall. Four novels later and still with no agent, I had a stack of rejection letters big enough to fill a black bin liner. If nothing else I felt I needed a change to stop madness setting in and a friend of mine who reads comics suggested we collaborate on one. We decided we’d really push all the boundaries we could and turn all the conventions we could find on their head. The result was awful.

However the opening chapter where the main character becomes a quadriplegic had promise, so having thrown away the rest this first chapter gradually evolved into Daemon and that when Crawford got involved and the idea of Insomnia floated.

Is there a difference between writing novels and comic books?

And how! What fascinates me is when journalists think they can write novels or when novelists try to write poetry. All the disciplines are so different that they use completely different skill sets.

Writing for a comic was so liberating, not least the fewer words you had to use. There’s no room for the three and a half pages that Arnold Bennet devotes to describing Anna’s dressing table top in ‘Anna and the Five Towns’. It really is true that every word has to earn its place on the page. If it’s not needed or is a repeat of what went earlier then it shouldn’t be there.

Suddenly I found I could maintain momentum in the story and I love the idea of trying to find a hook on every page to draw the reader on to the next one. It gave my work the pace it sadly lacked in novels. I’m not saying comics are easier to write, just that the demands they make matched the skills I have better than writing novels.

But what about working in a team? In a novel it’s just you and the paper. Surely sharing your work is hard?

A blessed relief actually. In novels you bear the rejection letters on your own; have to work through plot problems or character wrinkles alone. It’s a real grind. As part of a team producing a comic (with the right team I hasten to add) you all build on each other’s work and suddenly the whole exercise becomes so much more than the sum of its parts. In Daemon maybe I didn’t give enough direction to Daniel, but on the other hand he had enough of the bones to provide the flesh, and what flesh! Many of the small, clever details are not mine but come purely from him. Then he too is surprised by what Nic can do with the lettering, taking the whole page on yet another step further.

For me it comes very naturally, as I used to act and direct plays, and so am used to sharing a creative process and therefore trusting the others you have along with you for the ride. As with all teams – if you’re pulling in the same direction you can reach some extreme speeds, but if not, then you never really get going. Thankfully, Crawford is particularly good at getting the right people in the right place.

Will this be the beginning of a long series?

In novels I have a particular dislike of never ending series as they go on and on and on. Think of Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ and its interminable sequels, or Julian May’s ‘Many Coloured Land’ not to mention Stephen Donaldson. All began with a good book and ended with rotten ones.

Having said that. I like the characters in Daemon and they have more of a story to tell, but not that long a story! Maybe there’s one more to come, but only if it remains as hard and true as the first one. And a long series? I don’t want to end up in the same place as Messers Herbert, Donaldson and Ms May!

Thanks very much for giving us some insight into the writing process. I can't wait to see the final pages!

That's all we've got time for this week. Hopefully we'll return to normal next week with Nic back in charge of The Red Eye.

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1 comment:

Simon said...

Good luck with your Daemons Alisdair,

lo;ks to be an interesting read!