Daniel Pascoe Interview
I worked for many years in a professional environment; I need to keep a distance from those involved. For confidential reasons, I felt I needed to hide my identity from past patients, clients and colleagues. Anonymity allows me more freedom to cover controversial topics. I may adopt other genres of writing as I mature, so I can use different names, so as not to confuse an audience.
Tell us about your writing technique.
I start by fixing a plot in its barest outline, in timeline order, and then work through, scene by scene, chapter by chapter, until the story is complete: first draft. Then second, third, fourth drafts follow, going over and over the manuscript, word for word, until satisfied. Refinements are added, maybe plot changes if I think that will help, then redraft and redraft. My fourth book took nine drafts, and then the editorial process at the publishers resulted in two further complete redrafts, with plot changes. It’s a painstaking process. Sometimes I agonise for a whole day over one adverb change.
For deadline, I created a bunch of characters around my version of a real event, the police shooting in Earl’s Court. I threw them together and left them alone to interact; I watched from the sidelines, pushed them around a bit, saw how the plot was developing, and padded the text out. That’s character-led fiction.
Either way the fun is in the creation of the people and seeing how they react with each other. I can become quite attached to some of them, whether they are nice or not. If they are disposed of, I find that quite emotional. I have trouble letting some characters go.
Six books on the shelf now, what’s the link?
They are all tales of ordinary folk, driven to do extraordinary things by events. None of them fit neatly into a simple genre but are attempts to mix a literary approach with some fast-paced action – sort of literary-commercial hybrids.
It’s the characters that interest me most: when put to the test, how do they measure up, how do they perform, what are their reactions, where are they vulnerable?
So which characters do you like most, any?
I am fond of the women in my books: Sophie Patek (DEAD END) I liked, although her behaviour might be described as wayward and selfish – she came to appreciate what her father and family went through for her.
And in deadline, I came to love Olivia Truelove: so cool, clever, independent, resourceful and very attractive all at the same time, a winner. Hence my desire to write a sequel for her.
From the SNIPER, Jamila Deshpande (Leon’s daughter), although only appearing briefly, was a potential protagonist, a feisty girl who will grow up with purpose, intelligence and self-determination. I think she could star in a fast-moving sexy political thriller that I have in mind, so watch out for that.
And of course Jarvis Collingwood was my first creation: a cool Lee Child sort of character, efficient, confident, always right.
Are any of the characters you?
Not any of the women, no!
In DEAD END, I guess Matthew Crawford comes close. Characters in fiction are mostly an amalgamation of people the writer knows or has met; they rarely match exactly to a particular person. Leon Deshpande (THE LONDON SNIPER) emerged from a brief meeting I had with a university lecturer from Manchester while on holiday in Mombasa, when we were both swimming on Nyali beach off the Indian Ocean.
So what’s coming next?
I am planning an historical novel about the student uprising in Budapest in 1956, at the time of a polio epidemic across Europe. That should be about ready at the start of 2024.