Nothing can quite get your inspiration flowing like rumbling on a tractor for nine hours in the Australian outback.
That’s very true, and that’s what inspired me to write about The Wickedest of Things, but I’m not sure it’s for everyone. In 2018 my wife was posted down to Australia for six months with her company. I, just out of teaching at the time, went with her and they were nice enough to find me a job while I was there.
Every day I woke up, drove out to a field and mulched it on a tractor (I think destroying a crop was the only thing they trusted me to do). You have a lot of time to think doing that, as you rumble along. When I got home after that first day, I started to write. Two years later, I had a book in my hands.
In all ways, The Wickedest of Things comes from that time in my life.
I had always wanted to be a novelist and had many false-starts writing novels. This gave me the time and concentration to do it. Or, at least, get far enough through that I refused to quit.
The plot centers on the Labyrinth, a huge maze of puzzles and challenges the Horizon Corporation puts its people through.
It’s meant to test their skills and push them outside their limits. I’d read that Google put their employees through ‘vision quest’ training sessions where they made people walk across hot coals, do engineering challenges and build human pyramids. Okay, so what is the next extension of that? Now that we have this fantastic journey, we establish a group of characters the reader will care for and make them want to see them succeed.
Everyone walking into the Labyrinth brings their own past, motivations and goals. Of course, to make a thriller, something must inevitably go wrong and trap our characters in this place. Keep the same premise, but raise the stakes and make it a struggle for survival to see which of those characters we love, or loathe, make it through alive.
One of the questions I’ve been asked to answer is who the book is made to appeal to.
That’s always a tough question, not just because an author wants everyone to read their book (Please do, by the way) but because I would hope that if a book is well written then it would naturally appeal. That aside, The Wickedest of Things should appeal to a grown reader who enjoys adventure as well as fear.
You should be willing to go with a character you like into the maze, but be able to accept that they may not make it out. There’s no pleasure without risk. Also, a reader who is willing to root for the bad guy. One thing I’ve always disliked in fiction is the shallow villain. A character who is evil for the sake of being evil or just because the plot demands that they be. In Wickedest, those who kill are as fleshed out (forgive the pun) as their victims.
The book explores the weight of memory, betrayal and what it means to be human.
When you’ve reached the last page I want the reader to feel satisfied with the journey. Books should always have a little escapism in them and my greatest wish is that you enjoy the read and want to return to this world.
The eBook has been out for a short time, and the paperback will be available in the next few days.
My greatest wish is that it will be well read and, hopefully, appreciated. I wrote the book The Wickedest of Things as a standalone so there are no plans for a sequel just yet. That being said, any author who gets to the end of their book and says ‘no, I have no idea where the story could go’ is likely lying through their teeth.
Right now, my goal is that The Wickedest of Things sees the broadest audience possible. If you’ve read this far in the article, you’ve already done me a service, thank you. Read, review and recommend.