FINDING NEW VOICES
DEFINING NEW GENRES
We are all subject to influence. That’s what the research tells us. People, places, memories, expectations and a whole host of other stimuli influence us. In the main they influence us subconsciously. In other words they get into our heads and into our psyche, they affect the ways we feel, the things we say and the decisions we make without us even realising it.
This isn’t a one-way street, though. We influence others, too. Whether we mean to or not. Sometimes we create influence – either positive or negative – and we are oblivious to the fact. Sometimes we set out to create a specific type of influence and we achieve the exact opposite. Just because we influence inevitably doesn’t mean that are particularly good at it. Just because we are influenced inevitably doesn’t mean that we recognise and/or manage those influences well.
I decided to write my crime thriller series based on a Master of Influence. His name is Marcus Kline. I don’t know why that is his name. It just is. I do know why I chose to create him. It’s because I have been studying communication and influence since the mid 1970s. When I returned to writing fiction I took the easy and obvious option. I based it on what I know. I teach people in all walks of life how to use language to influence deliberately and positively. So when I began the process of creating Marcus Kline and his world I was pretty sure that there was only one thing I didn’t know. That was just who precisely my killer was and what precisely his motive was.
I figured – guessed, hoped – that it would all become clear as I developed Marcus’s world and immersed myself in it fully. Thankfully that is what happened. Eventually the killer just stepped out from the shadows and gave me a knowing look. I recognised precisely what that look meant because, well, because I have been studying and teaching this stuff for decades. The killer knew that I would read between the lines. The killer was right.
From that moment on I felt in complete control of my novel. The feeling lasted less than a week. Why? Because influence is inevitable. Because Marcus Kline had had enough life breathed into him to start making his own decisions. Now it was time for him to take the lead. All I could do was create the situations and let him work his way through them. He led. I followed. To be honest, I found it quite frightening at first. This wasn’t at all how I had planned to write the book. I adapted, though. After all, if you create a Master of Influence what do you expect them to do? I, of all people, should have worked that out. I cope with it by telling myself that we are a team.
So, right now, we are working together on the second book in the trilogy. I’m doing my best to recognise all the different ways Marcus Kline is influencing me. Part of me – the competitive part – feels tested by him. I’d like to show him that I know at least some things that he doesn’t. I suspect that I am doomed to failure. There is one thing, however, that I do know for sure.
He hasn’t finished with me yet.
Marcus Kline will return in Chris Parker’s “Belief ” , summer 2015