DCI Jericho in Black & White
05 December 2012
Back in the days before Blasted Heath, I started developing a plan for what to do post-Barney Thomson.
Publisher-less and agent-less I decided I needed something bold and dramatic and testicle-grabbing. And then when I couldn't think of anything along those lines, I just thought of something that would keep me busy and have a high amount of output, thereby increasing the chances of something working. One might call it quantity over quality, but experience has taught me that I'm just as liable to write something competent in a few weeks as in a few months. Or years.
The plan was a new detective figure. This eventually became WE ARE THE HANGED MAN's DCI Jericho, so we'll call the new detective figure DCI Jericho rather than 'the new detective figure.' There would be a dedicated website for Jericho, there would be a new Jericho novel every three months, and occasional short stories throughout the year. The novels would be short, punchy, pulpy and very much set in the present day, reacting to current events. There would be murder at the Olympics, and… well, other stuff. They'd be written and published within a few weeks, and would have cool 1940's type noir covers, depicting trashy women holding guns and Jericho in a hat and overcoat, casually flicking ash from his cigarette while he shot someone.
I started off by doing two things. I wrote the short story THE CASE OF THE STAINED GLASS WIDOW, and I commissioned my book cover designer, Iza, to do me a Jericho avatar. I was looking for something as iconic as the famous Sherlock profile. The only instructions I gave were that Jericho was middle aged and miserable. I should also have mentioned that he was actually pretty good looking, because it was always the intention that women would go for him, which is not naturally the case with miserable middle aged men.
This is what Iza came up with.
The fact that the whole Jericho plan never came about was unrelated to my signing on with Blasted Heath. More, in its way, related to thinking up plot lines for four novels a year. And a bunch of short stories. I don't have any doubts about writing that much at that speed, but as for plot lines… I'd never be able to do it. And when I came to write the first Jericho novel, it wasn't some small but dark detective case like I'd been thinking most of these novels would be, but a huge case, with lots of murder, a shadowy international society, a prolific serial killer, a peak time TV show, newspaper front pages, and Jericho as much part of the plot as being on the outside trying to solve it. There were never going to be four of them a year.
Nevertheless, DCI Jericho has arrived. He'll be back next year in WE ARE DEATH. Just as soon as I write it. Which I'll do, just as soon as the plot comes to me in a dream.