#Writephoto regulars will recognise the name of Iain Kelly, and know that both his writing and his storytelling is always of a high standard. It gives me great pleasue to introduce his new book, A Justified State… especially as one of its scenes was born from the writephoto prompts…
I have been writing short fiction on my blog for a couple of years – including taking part in Sue’s regular Thursday #writeprompt – and it was always with the aim of eventually producing a novel length story. After a couple of aborted attempts I finally hit upon a couple of characters that had appeared in my short fiction that I could combine into a longer story, and a couple of scenes that I had already written that could be adapted for a novel (one of which I wrote for one of Sue’s prompts!). Writing short snapshots of characters and scenes is a great way to keep your mind ticking over with new ideas and imagery, as well as improving your craft and connecting with fellow writers.
I always knew I wanted to write something based in my home country – Scotland – that was modern and thought-provoking. Too often Scotland is represented as the land of ‘Braveheart’ and ‘Outlander,’ (which is lovely, but completely removed from the everyday reality of the place), or as a place of gangland murders, which again is not the case. There was a problem though. Having a plot that was a political thriller set in an imagined future became difficult because at the moment it is difficult to imagine where Scotland may be in just a few years time politically: the turmoil of Brexit; the promise of another independence referendum on the horizon – if I guessed wrong then very quickly my novel that I had slaved over for months would go out of date very soon.
I made the decision then to use the geography and locations of Scotland that I knew – Edinburgh (where the novel opens), Glasgow, Loch Lomand and Argyll – but I wouldn’t actually name the places in my novel. Glasgow and Edinburgh simply became the ‘City’, Loch Lomand became ‘The Lakes,’ a final climax in London became the ‘Capital City.’
Although set in the future, I had no desire to write a sci-fi epic. I wanted to base the story on a real, plausible world and real people to be at the heart of it. I added in a few details that seemed relevant and which seem to be on their way to becoming commonplace – Smart Glasses that already exist would be worn by many, certain people would be micro-chipped so they could be tracked for security, electric self-driving cars are common. These were little details that helped build the world in which my characters could move.
I knew I wanted a strong female character, but one who was not a typical one. I decided to make my assassin female and have her motivations be obscure. She is the strongest character in the novel, able to act with conviction. For my detective I had a male character and made him the weaker of the pair. Simply flipping the usual roles in a thriller makes the dynamic much more interesting. Both have come from a somewhat tragic and broken background, but have responded and coped in very different ways.
I was pleased with the finished result and although no literary agents showed interest, I decided I would self-publish my novel, and ‘A Justified State’ was released at the start of this month. So far I have had positive feedback from readers, which is always pleasing. It would be nice if a few more copies flew off the shelves, but I would caution anyone looking to self publish not to expect to retire on the proceeds. For me it was more an avenue to get my story, my vision, out to an audience who would hopefully appreciate it, and who knows where it will go from there.
I am now working on a new, separate story, but with a bit of distance from the original book, I now have a clear idea for a sequel and perhaps a trilogy set in the same world and featuring the same characters. It is nice to have a clear plan of writing for a few months into the future! And of course, I will still be writing short fiction on my blog looking for that new scene or character that will set me off on another longer journey.
About the author
Iain Kelly lives in Scotland, UK. He is married with two children and works in the media industry as a television editor for the BBC. When he is not creating stories through sound and vision, he is writing them. ‘A Justified State,’ published in 2018, was his first novel.
Find and follow Iain
‘A Justified State’ is available now on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle around the world.
In the future, The State is ruled by the socially reformist Central Party Alliance. Poverty and homelessness have been eradicated, but overpopulation, an energy crisis and an ongoing overseas war are threatening the stability of the country. When a local politician is assassinated, Detective Danny Samson finds himself thrust into the middle of the investigation. Still grieving for his dead wife and children, Danny tracks down the assassin, an ex-military sniper called Gabriella, only to discover she may not be the real villain. The secret behind the murder of one politician may bring down the entire ruling Party, and Danny soon learns those in power will go to any lengths to protect The State. Joining forces with Gabriella and the mysterious government agent Phillips, Danny must unearth the truth and bring the guilty to justice, before they catch up with him first.
“I read A Justified State in one sitting. Captivated from the first pages. It is masterfully written, a realistic future State that may only be a few generations away if the citizens continue as blind and self involved as we are today. The plot was brilliant, with characters that grabbed your attention, and incredible detail in every scene. It is most definitely Orwellian! It could be taught in High School. A page turner, exciting, and emotional, I can’t say enough. Looking forward to a sequel!” Amazon review by Jordis Fasheh.
Launching a book?
If you are a writer, artist or photographer…If you have a poem, story or memoirs to share… If you have a book to promote, a character to introduce, an exhibition or event to publicise… If you have advice for writers, artists or bloggers…
If you would like to be my guest, please read the guidelines and get in touch!
I asked the writephoto challenge regulars if they would like to come over and introduce themselves. Without those who write and read the pieces inspired by the weekly photos, the writephoto prompt would not exist. So, if you follow or take part in the weekly challenge, why come over and introduce yourself too? Being a regular does not mean taking part every week… so why not drop me a line? Especially if the challenge has played a small part in the creation of a book!