William Deverell — Novelist

The official website of William Deverell, Winner of the Dashiell Hammett Award for Literary Excellence in North American Crime Writing

The Blog: July 6, 2014

On Thrill Killing, Libel, and Writers Block

Where was I? Well, obviously not looking after this sporadic blog.

In my defence, I’ve been driving to complete a first draft of an Arthur Beauchamp novel, a kind of horror sendup, a thrill killer stalking our anxiety-ridden hero. Does he survive? I won’t spoil the ending.

Still looking for a title. The Last Days of Arthur Beauchamp, something like that.

As well, I’ve been distracted by my personal horror show: that grumpy old fellow pictured in my posting of March 19 just won’t let up. To my astonishment, Horace Widgeon has discovered crowd-funding, and is exhorting his fans to kick in for the doubtless atrocious fees of his supposed hotshot counsel, Ballentine J. Bingham, Esq.

Regrettably, my guard dogs (see below) turned out not to be as ferocious as I’d hoped, and were nuzzling and crotch-sniffing Bingham’s pretty student lawyer as she thrust a writ at me through my open studio window. I wasn’t checking my security camera – too busy enjoying a scene where Beauchamp gets busted for pot trafficking.

Mesmerized by the sweet scene of face-licking dog love, I accepted the writ. It accuses me of libel and copyright theft. They’re starting at $500,000.

Come on, fellows, why can’t we settle this the old-fashioned way. A gloved slap. Muskets at fifty paces. Otherwise, I have a friend in Sicily (pictured here) prepared to make a counter-offer you can’t refuse. Don Corleone2 We would be saddened to see your client embarrassed by a public revealing of his terrible secret.

Enough said. Back to work. Here’s a lovely, long-winded tip about writers block from my nemesis’s masterwork, Secrets of the Whodunit.

“Do not mentally exhaust yourself. Before chance (and whatever small talents I possess) favoured me with literary success, I too had a day job, as inspector for Her Majesty’s Customs, and I would often arrive at work exhausted after scribbling till three in the morning. Many a smuggled item must have slipped through on my watch! So please, when you see nothing but rot on your page, take a deep breath, pack your pages away, and make a soothing cup of Earl Grey while you climb into your pyjamas.”

I prefer Chandler’s Law: “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.”

In my last posting, on suspects, I overlooked this delicious advice from the vigilance-challenged former customs officer:

“The tardy entrance of your final suspect must not be seen as an afterthought, idly tossed off. Even the dullest of readers should exclaim: ‘Eureka!’ as they realize they ought to have paid more attention to the boring parts.”

Next posting: how to skip over the boring parts. (For instance, the entirety of Widgeon’s short-story collection, Stiff in the Freezer.)