Sunday 20 December 2009


Reading other people’s blogs is fascinating, I find. And on one memorable occasion, a blog link provided me with the key that helped me to solve the mystery of The Serpent Pool. I’d been puzzling how to deal with a central element in the story, and the book didn’t quite seem to work. Then one day I took a look at a very appealing blog called Letters From a Hill Farm – and there I found a link to an old Youtube video.

The video featured Rupert Holmes, an excellent singer-songwriter, performing a song called ‘Him’ that I greatly enjoyed when it was a Top Ten hit in the UK, about 30 years ago. The story of the song gave me an idea for the book – and from that moment, the writing seemed to go much more easily.

There were a couple of added bonuses. First, Rupert (now an estimable crime writer as well as a composer) permitted me to reproduce a portion of his lyric in my novel – something for which I’m very grateful. Second, the appearance of the blonde-haired singer in the video gave me a picture of the appearance of a character in my story who had, until then, rather eluded me.

So there you have it. An odd little anecdote, perhaps. But an illustration of the way in which the online community can exert an influence over the creative process that is completely unexpected by all concerned. I bet there aren't that many crime novels that have been influenced by a blog link. But maybe one day it will become commonplace!


Anonymous said...

Martin - Thanks for your story. I've actually been influenced quite a lot by the members of the online community whom I've been privileged to get to know. I'm quite certain that my work-in-progress will show definite signs of that influence : ). I look forward to The Serpent Pool.

Dorte H said...

Good story!
I think it will be commonplace, and quite soon. I think the online community is inspiring, and that the world of bloggers is often amazingly generous. People inspire each other and share ideas quite a lot, and so many bloggers take the time to encourage other writers.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I love the way that you turned to the online community for inspiration. Great story!


Ed Gorman said...

I always thought `Him' was one of the quintessential songs of the `70s. Going into the decade you could forget the war by doping yourself up with pot, coke and sex. Singles bars thrived. Remember Looking For Mr. Goodbar? Studio 54. Etc. Fun fun fun. But looking back I see `Him' as a judgement on the decade; maybe most of us aren't built (emotionally, spiritually) to be as profligate as things got. And maybe most of us found relationships more intriguing than wife-swapping etc. I know I sound ministerial here. I don't mean to. But it was in the seventies that I heard more and more men talking about how they felt abandoned by all the promiscuity. They wanted wives and families. Or they wanted their wives to come home. Quite a difference from how they'd sounded in the Sixties with wham bam thank you ma'm so predominant. Or am I making too much of this song? I take it as a symbol of change for one part of a generation. Of course the next generation up gave us all the doper sex cash novels of Brett Easton Ellis and his friends. And Michael Douglas on Wall Street. And the scourge of AIDs. I guess each generation has to come to its own conclusion about how much is too much in any kind of endeavor.

Martin Edwards said...

Margot, Dorte, Elizabeth - glad you liked my little anecdote! We all agree about the virtues of the online community - which aren't virtual, but real!

Martin Edwards said...

Ed, these are truly intriguing observations. A songwriter who is also a superb story-teller, as Rupert Holmes is, is bound to provoke thought. I suppose many of us are also influenced on a lasting basis by our personal background. Mine was very conventional and English, and I never really rebelled against it. Nor did I want to. Except possibly in fiction.

Deb said...

I already commented about this on Patti's blog because she linked to the YouTube video of "Him," so this is probably superfluous, but I remember I had this song on a 45 rpm vinyl record back in the day. I always thought it was better than "The Pina Colada Song" which was Rupert Holmes' biggest hit.

I was already looking forward to reading "The Serpent Pool," but the fact that a golden-oldie provided a crucial plot point makes me even more eager to read it.

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

I think it's terrific that a blog post helped lead you to resolution of your mystery. Writers are an eclectic and resourceful bunch; elements to our stories come from so many sources.

I read about this blog post on Patti Abbott's blog...I loved watching and listening to "Him," -- it's been a long time. I enjoyed it when it came out, too.

How wonderful that Mr. Holmes allowed you to reproduce some of his lyrics.

It's always fun to hear the story behind the story! Best wishes with THE SERPENT POOL.