Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Diamond Pursuit - Behind the scenes.....

The third book in the Pursuit Series is called 'Diamond Pursuit', (the others being Cupid's Pursuit and Vegas Pursuit) and, once again follows the misadventures of its central character, Matthew Malarkey. In this story, Matthew, who is supposed to be on a chilled out break in the sunshine of Ibiza, inadvertently gets himself mixed up in a diamond smuggling ring. Unfortunately, through bad timing or misjudging situations Matthew has a tendency to find himself in difficult predicaments and his Ibiza trip proves no different.

So, how did this book come about?

Well, first of all I enjoy the fun of writing about Matthew Malarkey and his 'crew', Cecil Delaney, Carlos MacFadden and Jasper Kane. Their different personalities allow me to create comic situations and the 'banter' that develops between them helps to fuel that. Often it is not pre-meditated. As the scene evolves so does the banter. It can be natural, similar to what would happen in real life. So there is no need to think about how, for example, Cecil, the cockney roguish character, would react to a particular situation. I just know, so it emerges. Sure, I sometimes have to fine tune when I edit but most of the time it stays the way it came out.

The idea for the story came out of an unfortunate incident that occurred in real life in the summer of 2013. Two young ladies, who came to be known as the 'Peru Two,' were jailed for allegedly attempting to smuggle cocaine from Peru to Ibiza. Clearly that was a very serious matter and there is nothing in that story to find amusing. However, the smuggling angle gave me an idea for the next Pursuit book. I had been to Ibiza in the past and gradually the idea evolved. I went back to the island and began to take in the atmosphere and the locations and simply let the 'vibe' fuel possible scenarios. I then began to jot down the basic outline. Given the smuggling angle, there was a ready-made direct conflict emerging in the fact that Matthew has a police detective contact and smuggling is a crime! So I began to build on that as a central plot. I decided to use diamonds as the object of the criminal activity rather than cocaine. I didn't want to use drugs (in the written sense rather than actually taking my research to the experimental stage!) as that was too close to the real life case. And also, diamonds had an ironic twist since it is Matthew's intention to get engaged on his trip.

I wrote the main plot over a period of eight to nine months and had a finished manuscript by August of 2014. However, I had a nagging feeling about some of the locations - gaps in my memory from my earlier visit - and I felt the need to go back and visit a number of places. I went back in September 2014, notebook at the ready (iPhones are good too as you have the Notes app and voice record apps) and did more research. That research took me to the Sunset Bars of San Antonio (Cafe Mambo, Cafe del Mar, Savannah to name a few), to the West End Strip and its chaotic late night carousing and on to San Rafael in the centre of the island and Ibiza Town on the east coast. My visit to San Rafael by bus and foot, on a blazing hot day with little respite from the sun, took me up to its amazing 18th century church that stands on a hillside overlooking the town and across to Ibiza Town itself in the distance. I liked the location so much that I used it for a very specific scene, in the square next to the church and in the surrounding countryside. In Ibiza Town, I visited the hospital where Matthew and Cecil end up, inadvertently, as Matthew tries to escape the attentions of one of the bad guys. I toured the back streets, taking in the sights, smells and sounds even though that detail may end up as nothing more than a few paragraphs.

The plot also involves Matthew being locked away in a beach side cave. I already knew about such places from my previous visits (they are used for storage) but I went back to check out the locations. One evening, just after midnight, I strolled out into the dusk to explore my beach side cave location as it would be in the dead of night. There is a scene in Diamond Pursuit that meant I needed to 'feel' the area at that particularly time in order to describe it properly. I took the steep pathway along the rockface, heading down to the beach. The moon glistened on the water and I stopped to get a picture, to record the view and remind me of the location. All was quiet, a spooky, eerie atmosphere, the overhanging rocks looming over the path. I raised my iPhone and fired off a shot. For the record, I aimed another shot down to the beach. Just as the flash went off, a number of shouts came from the beach, from people I hadn't even seen in the gloom and still couldn't see... and they weren't happy. I have no idea what was going on down there but clearly somebody did not want a flash going off in their direction. I turned and legged it, the experience adding to my sense of danger, thus enabling me to get the right 'feel' for the scene I eventually wrote.

As referred to earlier, another interesting experience was San Antonio's 'West End', a maze of streets lined with bars and fast food joints, or as Cecil calls it in the book, 'Sodom and Gomorrah.' The 'West End' strip is geared up for young party revellers and it's bars are churning out music and drinks up until 6a.m. in the morning. All human life appears to be here, colourful, noisy and energetic. I first visited this location as a tourist in the eighties. It hasn't changed much. You need stamina to survive the hectic demands of this type of nightlife. Fortunately, I was only dipping in and out for the purposes of research.

Having said that, research isn't all hardship - well, if hardship is the right word when you are on a sun kissed island! I spent a day at Cala Bassa beach, a short boat ride across San Antonio Bay, fine tuning and correcting my manuscript under the shade of the juniper trees that line the back of the beach. That visit also enabled me to evolve yet another scene for Matthew Malarkey. Although all the final work is done in the confines of a small place (normally at home in very 'un-Ibiza' weather) it is good to get notes and paragraphs down at the location, where you can transmit the real time experience onto a page. Much harder to get that 'feel' when you are trying to drag it from memory once you are far removed from the location.

Finally, there is an aircraft scene near the end of the book that was technically quite demanding. Without revealing the who or why of the scene, I studied at length, via video and written details, the mechanics of flying a commercial aircraft. I did have enormous help and guidance too from someone who actually flies as a commercial airline pilot, so it is based on reality. The difficulty is, although the end product that appears in the book is fairly short, there is a need to 'understand' what is happening so that it can be transferred to the page. Consequently, far more time consuming attention is given to something that ends up as just a small part of a story. However, by the end of this section of research, I felt like I could fly an aircraft myself!

I hope that this gives you an insight into the creation of this book and, I am sure in one form or another, any book. I will not bore the pants off you with the editing bit!

Diamond Pursuit is available on Amazon. Information on my other books can be obtained from and if you would like to ask a question regarding the books, please contact me on