Writing Manifesto

I love stories. I always could get lost in them. I aim to write exciting plots so that my books are hard to put down. But, when you reach the end, I want to have made you think. If you then test the plot, pull it to pieces, examine its connections, I want it to hold together. I won’t sacrifice credulity to fake twists and turns as in Gone Girl. I won’t reach for grim, extraordinary violence to enliven a story as in Scandi Noir.

I spend a lot of time watching people. I aim to create characters you think are real. Some I want you to love, others to hate. Whichever way you feel about them I want you involved. I want you to love Anna and give Leah the benefit of the doubt. I hope my characters are not static, but change and develop as we all do. I want them occasionally to surprise you. They do and have occasionally surprised me.

I write fiction, but my books are as true as I can make them. I strongly believe that there are truths that can best be explored in fiction. I set my books almost entirely in the present. I like to engage with the world as I see it and face its concerns. My novels are optimistic but never escapist. Back Behind Enemy Lines is about many things including the way we treat old people, and how we can ever understand the lives we have lived. It is also about redemption and always was a paean of praise for those remarkable woman who served in the Special Operations Executive. Girl Without a Voice is about dysfunctional families and courage and the onus on all of us to confront evil when we are faced with it. It is also, I hope, a testimony to the power of the human spirit.

I like to place my characters in a landscape. I hope I occasionally surprise you with a description, delight you with a turn of phrase. The settings are a stitch up, an amalgam of places I’ve been to, areas and buildings I know well. I hope you can imagine yourself where my characters find themselves.

I make no apology for being old. I think it is easier to write well if you have lived a little. Okay I have to compile lists of names and dates because my memory isn’t as good as it once was, but I have been a child, a teenager, a lover, a parent, a grandparent, a cancer patient, a teacher, a headteacher, a carer of the elderly, a friend and an enemy. I am male but find women more fascinating to write about. In these days of gender fluidity I hope all my characters are convincing.

I will never write the same book twice, even though that is the way to make money. My novels are different from each other, often work across genres and may not please all my readers all of the time.

Chris Bridge July 2019

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