I’ve always been fairly transparent about my muse. Though I suffer from my fair share of writer’s block

[and, indeed, help others through it at Writers Unblocked]

I’m generally happy to talk about ideas, their sources, development and realization. I’m prone to writing songs and performing them live almost straight away, to writing poetry live in response to prompts, and – when the opportunity presents – free-forming ideas in front of audiences.

A while back, I did a short video blog on why Escalation is called Escalation, and heard from you that it was interesting to see behind the curtain.

So, I thought I’d do more. Here’s the first of a regular approach to lifting the lid on my works to date – the sort of thing I share at readings and presentations. It may be songs, or my books – whatever, I hope it’s interesting

[and will only know that if you let me know!]

Today I thought I’d write a bit about Karaoke Criminals.

The outline of the novel was drafted up while on vacation in Mojacar, Andalusia in southern Spain. The central premise was easy – a girl discovered singing karaoke

[in a bar called Music, Musica – the book version a collapse of two bars in the resort – the actual Music, Musica was next door to our hotel!]

and turned into the next big thing by an exiled mobster. Roxi’s journey stays pretty much true to that premise, and the outline is largely the same.

Truth be told though, Karaoke Criminals was originally a series of jokes and scenarios that could grow from the premise – the idea of mobsters muscling in on the music industry. A scene where they bully an advertising agency for use of Roxi’s music to advertise tampons remains – at the time, a riff on the commercialization of the Spice Girls, as I recall.

But, as I began to flesh out the characters – and, in particular Miles, Barry and Brian – the jokes and situations began to take on a grittier edge.

Take the little house in Islington for example. The original joke was that everyone in the music industry was scoring their drugs from the little house, which just happened to be controlled by the exiled mobster’s gang. It was going to be a running theme of personal leverage. And, indeed, the little house does get mentioned in that light several times in the novel – but now, it’s also a magnet pulling Miles back to his bitter past, the center of Barry’s desperate, brutal reality, it’s much more than just a joke.

That could be the best summary I can offer of Karaoke Criminals, in its final shape as a gritty, contemporary drama: much, much more than just a joke. And, while it retains a lot of the sunshine in which it was born, I have to say I like what it grew up to be much more.

See you next Thursday.

Thanks for reading, you have my love,

Vince