Writer To Reader
Guest Post from Deborah Crombie
Author of The Sound Of Broken Glass
The Setting or the Story?
Readers often ask, what comes first, the setting or the story? I know you're thinking, oh, right, the chicken and the egg thing— it's the unanswerable question.
But sometimes there is a first, and what I always have to say is "it depends entirely on the book." In The Sound of Broken Glass, the story gets the prize.
The story, in fact, began three books before, in Where Memories Lie. Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his colleague, Detective Sergeant Doug Cullen, were investigating a murder. I needed a character that would not only serve as a witness, but who could tell my detectives something about the victim and impart a crucial piece of information. A young man called Andy Monahan walked into the story. In his late twenties, Andy was a very talented rock guitarist in a failing band. He lived in the flat across the hall from the victim and had an orange cat named Bert.
That wasn't much to go on, but I knew as soon as I wrote a scene from Andy’s viewpoint that I wanted to know more about him. Why did he live alone? Why, with his talent, was he still playing bad gigs in an amateur band? Did he have family? Where did he come from? And why was he so prickly?
Bits and pieces of Andy's story grew in my mind as finished that book and wrote another, but I knew I needed a setting for both the past and present parts of it.
A friend was living in south London at the time, in a very unique area called Crystal Palace. He kept telling me I should set a book there, but it wasn’t until I went to visit that I saw how all the pieces would fit together. I knew that Andy had grown up in Crystal Palace, exactly where he’d lived, what had happened to him one August when he was thirteen years old, and how that incident was connected to a murder that Duncan’s wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James, and her team would investigate in the present.
The weaving together of the elements in the book wasn’t quite as simple as it sounds—it never is—but once put together they were inseparable. I can’t imagine that particular story taking place anywhere else. So perhaps in the end it doesn’t matter what sparks the story, as long as it all fits together in the end.
Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James are on the case in The Sound Of Broken Glass, a captivating mystery that blends a murder from the past with a powerful danger in the present. When James joins newcomer Melody Talbot to solve the murder of an esteemed barrister, their investigation leads them to an unlikely suspect, a talented guitarist Andy with a secret past. With an abundance of twists and turns and intertwining subplots, The Sound of Broken Glass is an elaborate and engaging page-turner.
Reader To Reader Review: The Sound of Broken Glass is the 15th novel in author Deborah Crombie’s James/Kincaid series, and the story is as fresh and vital as though it were the first. A perfect blend of past and present, of old and new relationships and a reminder of how the past continually impacts the present, no matter how hard you might try to escape those bounds. —Read on