I am joined today by Tony Salter, who is here to talk to us about the evolution of Sixty Minutes as part of the blog tour for the literary thriller. Over to you Tony.
This is the first blog tour, so please bear with me.
I thought it would be good to talk a little about the evolution of Sixty Minutes which is somewhat tricky without including spoilers, but I’ll try.
Unusually for me, I started at the end. Every now and then, I spend a few hours thinking of ideas for future books. Sometimes I will simply jot down a couple of words, sometimes a page or two and I occasionally I will write a chapter and see how a character starts to develop. The idea for Sixty Minutes was slightly different as I started by picturing the final scene (I can’t remember why) and then deciding to write it, almost as an exercise in descriptive prose.
That led me to thinking. What happened beforehand? How did that moment of crisis come about? The rest flowed from there. I decided to use the one-hour period as a constraint in order to add pace and I also decided to add another four characters to give the story depth and layers. But from the very beginning I felt uncomfortable with the core subject matter which is sensitive. To make things even harder on myself, I wrote it chapter-by-chapter, moving each character’s story forward side-by-side and sent it to a small group of readers one chapter at a time for comments.
I’m not sure that was an experiment which worked and, when I got to the end (and decided how it would actually finish), I concluded that something was wrong with the book, although I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) see what it was. I put it in a drawer and got on with writing Cold Intent, the sequel to Best Eaten Cold.
I dug it out a year later and sent it to my new editor. She gave me very clear advice – one of my five characters had no place in the book and needed to go. He was a great (very creepy) character and I’ll find a place for him somewhere else one day, but I knew she was right and started the process of stripping him out and replacing him – with a young woman called Nadia.
I have never been a believer in the idea that cultural appropriation in literature is somehow wrong. I am a white middle-class male from the South of England and I can’t change that, but my characters in Sixty Minutes are an East End Cabbie (ex Army), a young Pakistani man from Bradford, a wealthy South African mother-of-two, a seventy-six-year-old Canadian professor of literature and a young, female, half-French, half-Lebanese MI5 officer, Nadia.
Writing in Nadia was a fascinating process as all of the characters are so tightly interwoven, but I didn’t find it difficult as I knew quickly that I was doing the right thing and that I would end up ‘healing’ my book and making it coherent and balanced.
At the same time, the one-year wait had helped me to clarify the way I wanted to deal with the more sensitive elements of the book and I am happy that the overall message is the one that I would like to convey. Not all readers will agree with me, but that’s absolutely fine.
Hopefully readers will find that the characters are real and believable and enjoy the story – it’s a thriller, after all.
Many thanks Tony, for that fascinating insight into how Sixty Minutes developed into the book it is today.
Now, here comes the all important blurb and book info.
Five different people. Five separate lives. Sixty minutes to bind them for ever.
Hassan, Jim, Shuna, Dan and Nadia come from very different worlds. If life were straightforward, their paths would never cross. But our lives are rarely that simple and, as the clock ticks away the minutes of a single hour on a July morning, fate draws all five together in a headlong rush towards disaster.
Who are the heroes and who are the villains?
Tony Salter’s latest novel leaves us guessing right up to the last page.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tony’s latest thriller, Sixty Minutes, was released on 29th August 2019. Tony is the author of bestselling psychological thriller, Best Eaten Cold. He writes pacy contemporary thrillers which explore different themes, but all share Tony’s thought-provoking plots and richly-painted characters. Sixty Minutes is his fourth novel. His second novel, The Old Orchard – a gripping family thriller – was published on the 7th of November 2017 and the sequel to Best Eaten Cold, – Cold Intent – was published in November 2018. Highlights of his early career include (in no particular order) three years as an oilfield engineer in the Egyptian desert, twelve years managing record companies for EMI Music in Greece, India and across Eastern Europe, running a caravan site in the South of France and being chauffeur to the French Consul in Sydney. Having survived the Dotcom boom, he went on to be a founder of the world’s largest website for expatriates, a major music publisher and a successful hotel technology business. In amongst this, Tony found the time to backpack around the world twice (once in his twenties and once in his fifties), learn six languages (including Norwegian and Greek) and to find a beautiful Norwegian wife. He now lives in Oxfordshire and writes full-time. He has recently turned sixty and is married with three children and five grandchildren. You can find out more about Tony at www.tonysalter.com
Giveaway to Win 5 x PB copies of Sixty Minutes (Open INT)
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Don’t forget to stop by the other blogs taking part in the tour for Sixty Minutes.