Now that all of the books in the Terror Trilogy are out there, making their own way in the world, people have been asking me about some of the ideas behind the writing or the things that inspired the books. This got me thinking that it might be fun to do a little series of blogs on the things that have influenced me, and therefore found their way into the books. This time, Easter Eggs.
So, what is an Easter Egg, apart from those of the chocolate variety? Put simply, they refer to a hidden layer of meaning that adds a little bit more pleasure to the author, and to those readers who spot them. They can be anything, though usually something that the author derives pleasure from. For example, Alan Cubitt's central characters in The Fall both bear the names of his favourite guitar manufacturers. Likewise, Haylen Beck, alter-ego of Stuart Neville, gets his name from Stuart's guitars of choice.
In my case, some Easter Eggs will remain secret, but I am willing to share the following:
1) Football- As a lifelong Manchester United supporter married to a dyed in the wool Liverpool supporter, it was inevitable that our rivalry would seep into my books. That would go some way to explaining the chosen names for the characters of Patrick Rodgers & Tom Ferguson. Ferguson is of course the surname of United's most successful manager. Rodgers once managed the other team. For a little more of an ironic twist, Ferguson in the books, is a die hard Liverpool fan (born and raised on Merseyside) who is troubled by the associations that his surname has with a very different shade of red.
2) Music- Another central character, Beth Shaw was named from my liking of the singer, P!nk, a person who I feel, embodies many of Beth Shaw's traits. Beth is also inspired by other influences, though they're a story for another day.
The main music related Easter Eggs though, come from the fact that many characters in the Terror books share their surnames with members of the band, Pulp, a band that I hugely admire and one that I've travelled far and wide to see live. In fact, the drummer of the best band to have come out of Sheffield, one Nick Banks, thanks to the Twitterverse, kindly agreed to allow a namesake character to be introduced in the final Terror book, Dark Light. He was also kind enough to be interviewed by me on that and other matters. See his responses to my questions below.
Q So as a huge Pulp fan, some would say fanatic, your finding your way into print in my works came about through our connection on Twitter. It’s refreshing to see how approachable and interactive you are with the fans. Is maintaining that link important to you and is it something that you enjoy?
A When twit first came out, indeed most soc media, I was rather sceptical as being an old git. Decided to get with it and have really enjoyed conversing with pulp-items around the globe. The listening party with Tim Burgess was great. Some of Pulp may have been a bit stand off-ish in the past, but I don’t mind talking about pulp etc.
Q How does it feel to know that a nice guy like yourself has inspired quite a dark character in Crime Fiction?
A We all have a dark side......
Q Are there any Easter eggs in any of the bands music you can tell us about?
A Not really, I think the Easter egg concept is something that has happened since pulp stopped recording. There may be some connected-ness to other events in a couple of songs...perhaps.
Q Authors often compare their second works after commercial success as being equal to a band’s “difficult second album”. How difficult did you find the process on putting together the songs and the bigger piece of work that is an album? Was there a difficult Pulp album from your point of view?
A Hardcore and We love life were both really difficult to do esp Hardcore so that kind of goes along with the second album syndrome, although it was the 6th. Success piles the pressure on really. Writing songs is not easy. Sometimes though it’s just done as ‘fun’ so the pressure is less so. Sometimes when folk are eagerly awaiting ‘product’ it’s less fun.
Q Lyrics seem to come mostly under Jarvis’ remit. Have you ever felt the desire to pen anything yourself?
A God no. Lyrics are best left to the person who has to deliver them I think. They can be quite personal.
Q Were there any times when you heard the lyrics of a potential new song and thought, What? Really?
A You only really heard the lyrics at the recording studio. Before that they were generally a mumble with a bit of tune. You might get the odd phrase.
Songs like ‘sorted’ and even ‘common people’ received a raised eyebrow once the title was revealed but all was ok I guess.
Q What is your current read and what type of books are you in to?
A I switch between history, science, current affairs, rock biogs, also unusual subjects that may catch my eye. A book on how roads were numbered in the UK was surprisingly riveting. It’s rare I read any fiction. Last one was hand maids tale. Got follow up ready to go on my unread shelf.
Currently reading a book on the DDay landings and subsequent campaign in Normandy. Riveting stuff.
Q If you were to write your autobiography, what would it be called?
A Ah, can’t tell you that. 😉
And of course there’ll have to be some fanboy Qs. Sorry lol.
Q What’s your favourite Pulp song?
A Stuff from the Freaks era mostly esp a track called ‘Goodnight’. I still get a thrill hearing CP on the radio.
Q I’ve travelled all over the UK and Ireland to see Pulp. I was even at the final concert…both of them lol. What were your favourite and least favourite concerts?
A There’s loads of favourites. Halifax leisure centre where kids went crazy for the first time, the Stockholm scout hut was crackers in about 94. . Glasto 95 of course.
We played in Barcelona and I was really ill with a stomach bug. Gig went ahead but I had a bucket by the kit for the puke. Nice.
Q If you could have been in any other band, who would it have been?
A Can’t imagine being in another group. I joined my favourite group back in 1986.
Q Can we have a post Covid Pulp reunion please?
A The reunion question. Well I’m always up for it but it’s up to Jarv really. No idea if anything will happen ever. Sorry.
Huge thanks to Nick, Sheffield's finest drummer. Let's hope we can persuade Jarvis into that reunion.
That's it for this post. I'll write another soon on another aspect of the Terror books. On an end note though, if you think I've divulged all of my Easter Eggs, I haven't even scratched the surface. To paraphrase Tess & Claudia, Keep Guessing!!