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Writing thrillers II

19 July 2010

'I think there was what people sometimes call 'a gap in the market' because I wanted to get away from the fantasy and sensationalism of James Bond and the Ludlum-esque stuff... after a while too much fantasy has a bludgeoning effect: you accept that the guy can fly, or defuse a bomb with bare hands, or whatever. A story has to have certain mechanisms which are tried and tested. So there's a good-looking girl, hand-to-hand (combat) stuff, (the protagonist) gets to blow stuff up... tried and tested mechanisms of the genre, without which we wouldn't call it a thriller. They have to be in there, but it's the way they're in there that's important. At every step I found myself trying to underplay stuff, so for example, our protagonist makes mistakes all the time, getting things wrong and getting hurt.'

Jason Elliot, author of The Network in the Bookseller.