|Image: Diane Parkin: Night Crawler|
It is Easter 1996, and a young homosexual junkie has been murdered. His boyfriend is arrested and charged. Marcie Craig, local DJ and good friend of the prime suspect, knows he didn’t do it and sets out to find out who did. Along the way Marcie is beaten up, another friend is murdered, and another is questioned until, in the end, Marcie’s own life is threatened.
Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? That’s the blurb for a new book that’s just been released by a great writing buddy of mine, Diane Parkin. She’s curently undertaking a virtual tour of the blogosphere, so when I heard about it I was only too happy to have her over here at Freedom From The Mundane.
Keep reading, because although it’s to late for Christmas this is a book that will make for perfect reading as we move into the beginning of January; the perfect dose of mystery and intrigue to guide you through those cold wintry nights that lie ahead.
Over to Diane…
Hi Diane, tell us about Night Crawler
Night Crawler was originally a song recorded by Birmingham rockers Judas Priest and can be found on their 1990 Painkiller album. The novel is a story about someone that crawls around at night killing people to cover up his or her own secret. The story opens in April 1996 and runs for just a few months. It introduces Birmingham, the rock club and pub scene that once was there, and of course Marcie Craig.
Marcie Craig? Do tell us more….
Marcie Craig (real name Marcella) is a 32 year old female rock DJ that makes a perfectly adequate living from her first love, rock music. She lives in a caravan (trailer) in Meriden, a small town that lies between Birmingham and Coventry, England, on the A45 – although the caravan site (trailer park) is fictitious. She rides a Harley Davidson, drives a Jeep, and has a pet cat called Sylvester and two mice called Thomas and Jeremy. She is 5’ 7”, with long brown naturally curly hair, is quite physically attractive with an athletic body, but she’s a bit immature and can be sarcastic.
Sounds fantastic. So how did the book come about?
I knew I wanted to write a mystery novel set in Birmingham but I didn’t know where to start. Everyone told me to write what I know but I didn’t think I knew enough about anything interesting. The only thing I did was work or go out to rock pubs and clubs, so I settled on the local music scene. I needed a protagonist and came up with an amalgamation of all the rock DJs I had ever known, then I made her a female and put her on a motorbike. Marcella was a favourite name and Craig was the professional surname of one of my DJ friends.
The milieu gave me my scene of crime and it was easy enough to place a victim there, but I needed a reason for Marcie Craig to get involved, I needed her to care. So I had an old friend of hers falsely arrested and charged.
I wrote copious character notes for all of the main players, I wrote a detailed chapter-by-chapter breakdown, I made timeline notes as I went along. I drew a map of the murder scene and I made a detailed timeline for the actual murder so I knew where everybody was.
I wrote the first draft by hand, every day, making notes of things I didn’t know, and then I carried out my research interviews. The second draft was also in longhand but this took into account what I had learned. The first typo-free typed draft went out to my “experts” for checking, and all of my factual errors were corrected, most of the feedback was also incorporated. Then the second type-written draft was produced and the polishing process begun.
I did two more handwritten drafts before the final print-ready version. Then years of submissions began.
How long did the book take to finish?
The book was completed by the end of 1996 and in 1997 it started to do the rounds. I hawked the manuscript around publishers and agents for more than ten years, building in many of the suggestions they made. While many were genuinely interested, the only company that offered to publish Night Crawler ran out of money. Spurred on by mostly positive feedback, I decided to have a go myself and “get it out there”.
How did you find the self-publishing experience?
Lulu is a print-on-demand self-publishing organisation that offers authors various levels of support. With so much editing experience behind me, however, I decided to do everything myself and undertook all of the editorial and technical work; I even sourced my own artist for the cover. Lulu is available to anyone with internet access and offers various distribution services and packages. Every book gets an ISBN.
What next for Diane Parkin?
I’m well known for having several projects on the go and not necessarily finishing all of them. However, future Marcie Craig novels already outlined or planned include The Beast Within (by Birmingham rock band The Handsome Beasts), and Snowblind (by Black Sabbath). There is also a prequel, Catch the Rainbow (by Rainbow), which is set against the Birmingham pub bombings of 1974 and features a cameo-type appearance by Marcie Craig, aged 10.
Diane Parkin started writing short stories for magazines in 1985 when the writers’ group to which she belonged advised her not to waste her time and get a proper job. She went on to sell commissioned articles to magazines for many years. She qualified as a broadcast journalist with BBC Radio West Midlands in 1997, took over one of the classes on the course the following year, and continued as a full time freelance photo-journalist for ten years altogether. She joined an international steel company in 2005 as editor of one of their in-house magazines.
Diane has also edited education trade magazines and journals, text books, non-fiction books, and photocopiable classroom resources, and has taught adults creative writing and computer literacy. More recently she has started to produce activity and sticker annuals for children aged 3 – 6.
Night Crawler is Diane’s debut novel. She lives in a South Yorkshire pit village in England with her two cats.
Fascinating stuff, Diane, thanks for sharing the process and for entertaining all my Freedom readers today. And of course, good luck with the new book!