Life has a habit of getting in the way of story-writing so The Search for the Crimson Lady has had to take second place lately. But I have to admit I’ve also encountered an obstacle or two in my plot. I’ve reached a point in the story where matters are coming to a head.
You might recall a few weeks ago I shared one of the opening scenes where we learn a little about the Crimson Lady’s history. But now, as we track the ship through generations, I had to flesh out what happened at the start of my story. And I had to make changes so that the events made sense. After all, if I’m sitting here saying to myself, “but that doesn’t make sense” or “what happened to the wife?” or “what’s the villain doing?’ then my readers will do the same.
It’s interesting how TV shows, being between thirty minutes to an hour long, can get away with stupid stuff much more easily than we writers. I watched an old episode of Father Brown the other night. (It’s a UK cosy mystery series where the cops are rubbish and the local Catholic priest saves the day.) It was about a psychiatrist who was a disciple of Freud. He came to the village to write a book (or something). One of his patients is the local wealthy landowner, who is portrayed as hiding something with the help of his butler. He has an obnoxious son who fancies himself as a pianist. The son is strangled as he is playing the piano. The butler is blamed. Then a pretty journalist is also murdered as she plays the piano – the same piece of music. The butler couldn’t have done it since he was in jail.
Father Brown deduces that the psychiatrist has hypnotised the landowner and used posthypnotic suggestion to make him strangle the nearest person when a particular piece of music is played. He even tries to kill himself in the police cells when, at the psychiatrist’s suggestion as a therapy, that piece of music is played to him. Father Brown saves the landowner in the nick of time by getting the cops to turn off the music.
And I thought to myself, hang on. If all you have to do to stop the landowner murdering people is stop the music, why didn’t his compulsion go away when he started to strangle his son and the journalist? I expect they would have stopped playing with hands around their throat. (I think I would have)
Posthypnotic murder has been used in fiction more than once. It seems the jury is out on whether or not it can be done. Certainly, if it can, it is rare. But what the hey. It’s fiction, after all.
While you’re here, let me introduce you to Neyru who you’ll read about in my Pets in Space 6 story.
I imagine her as a kind of cross between a pterodactyl and a Pern dragon. She has four legs, wide wings that fit along her backbone when they are closed, and a short tail. Her amazing black eyes are forward-facing and slightly raised in an otherwise slender skull on a long neck. She has skin, not feathers, but it is hard to tell what color. The hues seem to move like oil on water.
Apart from being able to fly, Neyru has some other qualities. Her hide when at rest is silvery, with that same iridescence that Drew noticed in the rock at the market where he bought the thunder egg which turned out to be an egg. But she can change her colour and to some extent, her appearance to match her surroundings.
Pets in Space 6 is available for pre-order, with delivery on 5th October. Costing US$4.99, the anthology includes stories from eleven authors. But don’t forget to buy your copy while you can. The book will be taken off sale in November.