the state of things

 

The Long Rewrite of Barney Thomson

by Douglas Lindsay - 11:51 on 29 September 2008
Working through the final proof read of The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson. Have announced the publication date of the new version - 15th November 2008 - and placed the order at the printers. Now all I need to do is get the text straight and get the cover... The cover is due any day, apparently. I'm protected from writing to my cover designer and asking for an ETA by the fact that she doesn't speak much English and any e-mail would likely just lead to confusion. So I do my bit and will have to wait for the cover before I can do the high-budget promo for YouTube.

Have disconcertingly found rather a large hole in the plot, which I've never noticed previously. Well, not so much a hole in the plot. More of a goof. In the beginning everyone is talking about the serial killer who's on the loose. However, the killer has just announced him/herself by dispatching a body part of the victim to their family. With the obvious exception of the family who get their son's head returned to them, how does anyone actually know that any of the victims are dead? There are no bodies, obviously, as they're all hidden in a freezer somewhere. There might be a reasonable presumption that the victims are dead, however it's not a presumption in the book, it's taken as fact.

So, having spotted this, it would be an easy enough thing to alter for the re-release. However, despite changing the tense and the dialect, I feel that this would be going too far. Having written two film scripts based on the book and investigated all sorts of different plot threads, I could completely rewrite the entire thing.

I had this great idea of making Barney's mum much more of a Nigella type character, with a great joy in food and recipes and taste. She would get Barney to taste test all her stuff, maybe she'd even be a celebrity chef. Only with hindsight would we realise that Barney had been taste testing human flesh, and even then we wouldn't be absolutely sure that was what he'd been doing.

I love that very cinematic idea, which would also have been great for the book. The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson is a good story, but it could have been developed much more. However, I have to draw the line somewhere, and when deciding to reprint, long ago made the decision to draw that line at changing the story in any way.

And so I will treat the minor goof regarding the presumption of death on the part of the police and the media in the same way and leave it as originally written, as I will with anything else that occurs to me as I go through.

And so sadly, 'Is this your husband's penis?" the great first line of the film script that will never be made, will also not make it into print.

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