How Long is a Piece of Rope: Debbie Bennett
I first “met” Debbie Bennett three years ago when the writers’ site Authonomy was in its first innocent flush of youth. I was in awe of her talent back then. I still am now.
Here’s the blurb for the fabulous Hamelin’s Child
Michael Redford died on his seventeenth birthday – the night Eddie picked him up off the street, shot him full of heroin and assaulted him.
Now he’s Mikey and he works for Joss. With streaked blond hair and a cute smile, he sleeps by day and services clients at night. Sometimes he remembers his old life, but with what he’s become now, he knows there is no return to his comfortable middle-class background.
Then he makes a friend in Lee. A child of the streets, Lee demands more from friendship than Mikey is prepared to give. But the police are closing in on them now and Mikey’s not sure anymore who he really is – streetwise Mikey or plain Michael Redford.
Hamelin’s Child was long-listed in the UK Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. A thriller set in the seedy world of London’s drug rings, this book contains strong scenes and adult material.
And here’s how she answered the questions that matter:
1. Hamelin’s Child is way better than the teenage crime novel I wrote when I was 15, but one day I’d really like to be as good as Lynda la Plante.
2. You will just love my book if you enjoy Karen Rose novels but if you’re a fan of chick-lit steer well clear.
3. Smoke comes from the barrel of a gun. They say there’s no smoke without a fire – and gunfire is how Hamelin’s Child ends. Who gets shot? That would be telling.
4. How do you see the role of food in the contemporary thriller and where does Hamelin’s Child fit into the spectrum?
Funny you should ask that. Parts of my story are set in and around (product placement alert!) McDonalds. It’s where my MC makes contact with the police and where he’s first spotted by the DI in charge of the case. It’s also where he goes back to when he’s looking for answers. So food can identify a location to which every reader can relate. Other than that, I’m far to busy eating food to be writing about it!
5. How would it affect the direction Hamelin’s Child takes if the action were moved wholesale to the set of Glee in chapter 7?
Chapter 7. Where you start to find out just how nasty the bad guys get. Well, it’d certainly be triple-X-rated, that’s for sure, so my teenage daughter wouldn’t be watching it. In fact most of the cast would be under age, so they’d have to go, which would just leave the teachers. And if there are drugs around, it’d probably resemble a lot of comprehensive schools anyway, so not much change there. But I think the costumes would need a rethink, and all the singing and dancing would be banned, although Don’t Stop Believing might feature as it fits my story quite nicely. But it might have to be the original Journey version as it is so much better (oh yes it *is*). In fact rename the series Glum and you’d be about there. Probably.
6. When you’re writing, would you rather look out at the sea, or in at your thoughts?
Both. I grew up on the Wirral peninsula and was never far from water. We’re hoping to buy a small place near the beach in a couple of years when the current mortgage is (hopefully) paid off. However, I can be quite introspective at times and can often be found staring into space at nothing in particular when really there’s something zipping around my brain or I’m listening to my characters arguing. But I do love the sea. I’ve always found it both calming and inspiring and I can walk for hours along a beach, while lost in my thoughts!
7. When writing, do you start at the beginning and keep going, or start at the end and work back?
Definitely the beginning. I really wish I was organised as a writer, that I could have a plan and know my ending before I get there. Truthfully, I often don’t have a clue what I’m writing until it arrives on the computer screen. I once wrote very early on in a novel that a character was afraid – had always been afraid – but had never really know what he was afraid of. Neither did I. Towards the end I suddenly realised what it was and everything fell into place. That’s how it is with me – if I know what’s going to happen I get bored and can’t be bothered to write it. I so admire writers who have plans and synopses and whiteboards and card indexes. It can be scary not knowing where you are going.
8. A great villain or a great hero?
Villain every time. The bad guys are far more fun, especially when you get inside their heads and find out what makes them tick and why they behave the way they do. I don’t believe anybody is pure evil for the sake of it – there’s always a reason. And villains have more to talk about and generally have more money, so Darth Vader is always going to be a more interesting date than Luke Skywalker.
9. Hamelin’s Child will change the way a reader looks at those dodgy people who hang around clubs & bars and try to chat up people on their own. No, really – it will. Who knows what that creepy guy is dropping in your drink while you nip to the loo? I mean he looks nice enough, doesn’t he? He’s flashing his cash around like he thinks it’s impressing you. And it is, isn’t it? Just a little bit. Because you’re under age and don’t have much money and if the bouncers knew how old you were, you’d be in trouble. But don’t be impressed by the money and the jewellery and that casual way he’s flirting with the barmaid. And please don’t let him buy you a drink. In fact, just leave right now. Go on. While you still can.
10. How long is a piece of rope?
Just long enough for me to hang myself. Usually.