I’m running a new series of guest posts throughout 2015: Fetish Friday. Don’t get all sweaty in the pants—I’m going back to an older definition of the word, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the ritual of creation, some part of their surroundings—physical or mental—that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without which the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.
I don’t think anything of a material nature gets me writing – no music, no pictures, no objects or artefacts, nothing like that. But I can’t work out what’s going to happen in a story until the character starts talking to me. 

I’ve got a plot kinda sorta stewing at the moment. It’s actually been asked for by Omnibus – a historical set very very early – bronze age. Dyan Blacklock sent me a newspaper article on a burial in Sussex from about 2200 BCE, and thought it might inspire something. The man had died apparently from a sword-cut. He had been buried with a very rare, very beautiful bronze dagger, so he was an aristocrat. But the illustration didn’t say anything much to me. I researched the date – and whaddaya know, 2200 BCE is pretty much on track for the last major building phase at Stonehenge. They raised the five big central trilithons about then. Thing is, those stones weight about 25-30 tonnes apiece, and they moved them mostly overland about 24 miles to the site. Nobody knows exactly how, but it woulld have taken a huge number of bodies, for that time and place.

It was that that got me thinking. I think maybe my character will be the bloke responsible. This would have to be someone who could enforce a peace in a very warlike age, but he couldn’t be simply a warlord. He had to organise a workforce of six to eight thousand, which means about twenty times that number of farmers to feed it. Given crop yields and population density then, we’re looking at most of central and southern England being directed to a single purpose. Huge.

So I think I know what the character will be – a warrior who becomes a builder. But he hasn’t said a word to me yet. I have no idea what he’s like – his voice, his speech patterns, his word choice. That will lead on to posture, gestures, behaviours, thought. But until I can actually hear him speak, I don’t know what these will be. And here’s the thing. Without those, I don’t know what will happen to him, because I don’t know how other people will behave to him.

So it’s that voice that is my fetish, if you want to call it that. I suspect that he might sound upper-class, for those times – for there certainly was a class system. I suspect that causes conflict – but I don’t know how. He isn’t talking to me yet. I can’t write a word until he does – if he ever does.

We’ll see, I suppose.

Sometimes it happens straight away. More often not. Sometimes it’s inconvenient. I’ve actually had the experience of a character walking up behind me, tapping me on the shoulder, and the following conversation ensued:

“I’m not going to do that,” she said.

“It’s in the plot.”

“Don’t be silly. I wouldn’t do that.”

“What? You have to do it. It doesn’t work, otherwise.”

“It doesn’t work, as is.”

“Now, look here. You’re just a figment of my imagination. You do what I tell you to do.”

“Get lost, boofhead. You’d never have made a writer, anyway.”

So I noodled around for another way. It took me a week, but she eventually approved an alternative, and it led to a different plot twist, and it worked better that way, anyway.

So. The character has to talk to me. That’s my fetish.


Dave didn’t have an author pic to share, so here are a few novel covers to give you an idea of the range of which the man is capable. Dave was first published in 1994, won two Aurealises in 1997 and 1998, got on the Premier’s Award list three times, and has published twenty-two novels, ephemera and trivia and a couple dozen short stories. 
Are you a creative artist? Fancy joining in and letting us know about that special item, object, location or cosmic state of being at the heart of your creative process? There’s always room for another lunatic in the asylum: email me and make your most excited Horshack noise.