Friday, 8 May 2015

Coming Soon: BUY, SELL, MURDER (THE RECKLESS ENGINEER #2)

"To hell with the lives. Let's go save the money!"

If the last time you were stuck with the characters in an engineering firm in an escalating muddle, this time prepare to meet your characters in the London branch of one crooked American investment bank.


Chapter 1

If you were slacking off at work, falling into that half-conscious state just above deep sleep from which you can remember your disjointed dreams if you wake up slowly, there’s nothing like having a bullet come up between your legs to jolt you back into instant wakefulness and cure you of nodding off at work ever again.

In Jeremy’s defence it was already ten minutes past Friday’s close of business day at the bank and he was putting in the extra hours of work that he usually did.  Besides Jeremy had no boss to reprimand him thus if he were to take a break, for Jack Connor and he were the sole directors of BlackGold Silicon, their own engineering firm.  He was, in any event, well ahead of their agreed schedule on the pioneering CCTV security system that BlackGold Silicon had been contracted to design, manufacture, install, develop, and maintain by the Chartered American Bank at its three main London branches at Canary Wharf, Liverpool Street, and Oxford Circus.  It was true that he had neglected to update their prestigious American client with details of the advanced stages the system was already in, letting the bank know only that Phase II would be ready to go live on Monday the 29th of August 2011 as scheduled.  Clients were a demanding bunch and it was always a good strategy to keep them from getting too deeply involved in the  development stages to prevent them adding to their wish lists or moving the goal posts with never ending demands.  They were, in Jeremy’s experience, also a nosy and a pushy lot, though he was yet to meet a client however disgruntled who had reacted to his reticence or perceived tardiness in such a dramatic manner.

. . .

Thus it came about that Jeremy was lying on his back in the ventilation and air conditioning ducts (which had been newly cleaned for his work) above the ground floor ceiling of the Liverpool Street retail branch of Chartered American Bank at 5:10 that Friday afternoon, nodding off from that end-of-week fatigue that secretly plagued every city worker while running the electrical inspection tests on Zeus’ and Zelus’ cables, when he was jolted wide awake by a loud bang and a bullet whizzing past between his legs.

Any noise Jeremy might have made when he instinctively tried to reverse on his bum and sit up, banged his head, and yelped must have been drowned out by the loud screams coming from the room below him.  There was another bang.  This time he had the presence of mind to remember that he was in a long, approximately two and a half feet wide and two feet high tunnel made of aluminum or metal sheet.  He slid onto his side and lay flat against the left wall of the ventilation duct.  No bullet had come past him with the second bang and the room below was momentarily silent.

‘Everybody, quiet!  The next person who makes a move or a sound will be dead along with your office manager here.’

The man’s voice paused menacingly to make sure his message had been received and was being obeyed.

‘People, this is a bank robbery.  All we want is the money, somebody else’s money.  Nobody needs to die here today if you are not stupid.’

The voice coming through the meshed ventilation vents up to Jeremy’s space above the ceiling was unmistakably Irish.  He rolled back over onto his stomach and edged forward carefully, crawling silently with his elbows and toes, until he reached the next air vent about three feet in front of him.

The man speaking out loud was at the centre of the large room right below the point where Jeremy had been working.  He was wearing a Tony Blair mask, and was holding what seemed like a semi-automatic assault rifle at a plump woman in a dark blue skirt suit and a white and blue striped blouse – the uniform that the bank employees wore.  He recognized her as one of the office managers.  She would have come out to close the blinds and to clear the customer area the way she normally did every day after close of business to the customers.

The bank had two entrances for the public and one for staff only.  The outer entrance from Old Broad Street had a pair of doors made of reinforced fibre glass that opened into a lobby area with six ATM teller machines.  This lobby was left open to customers till some late hour when one of the night guards locked the doors.  There was an entrance into the main area of the bank from this ATM lobby – a doorway arched at the top with a pair of heavy mahogany wooden doors and brass knobs.  The main door exactly similar to this one let in those customers and staff coming up a couple of steps from London Wall.  The staff entrance into the managers’ office area was on Great Winchester Street.

Inside, a row of seven cashiers were seated opposite the ATM lobby entrance behind a wooden counter further separated from the public by a reinforced fibre glass panel stretching from the top of the counter to the ceiling.  A wooden door to the left of the cashiers opened into a hallway that led to the account managers’ and financial advisers’ offices, including to the doorway into the cashiers’ area.  People were led out to these offices by prior appointment for consultations on weighty matters such as mortgages, loans, credit cards, business accounts, and insurance.  To the right of the entrance from the ATM lobby was a curved wooden counter taking customer enquiries.  About ten weeks ago, Jeremy had pushed this counter forward with the help of the two security guards in order to make some space behind it for temporarily stacking the empty boxes that had come carrying his cables and cameras.   To its left was another wooden door that led to the high ranking branch and office managers’ offices and to the safes and the vault in the basement.

Every evening like clockwork at 4:55 p.m., five minutes before close of business day to the public, the bank’s two security guards locked the left door of each pair of beautifully worked and carved wooden doors at the main and lobby entrances and stood by the door remaining unlocked letting any customers already in the bank out, but stopping any new customers from entering.  At 5:00 p.m. like clockwork the plump lady or her younger assistant came out the door to the left of the inquiries counter to close the blinds and clear the customer area.  By 5:20 p.m. at the latest all customers were seen out.  The two doors were locked and the outer security alarm activated by the guards before the cashiers began counting the cash and transferring the day’s proceedings to the vault in the basement.

Today at 5: 12 p.m., however, two men in David Cameron and Nick Clegg masks were holding the guards on their knees on the floor near each entrance at gunpoint with what seemed like .38 or .44 caliber revolvers.  The blinds were already drawn and the plump lady was covering her face with her hands, shaking and kneeling on the floor with Tony Blair’s assault rifle aimed at her head.  Another man in a Gordon Brown mask was already behind the cashiers’ barrier holding a revolver at the temple of one of the girls.

Upon receiving a nod from Tony Blair, Nick Clegg opened the door to the ATM lobby and let three other men in, two in Maggie Thatcher masks and one in a John Major mask.  The two men in the Thatcher masks proceeded to search, bind, and gag the two guards with duct tape, adding the guards’ two revolvers to their arsenal, while John Major hurried in through the managers’ door to get the offices under control, taking the plump lady with him as his hostage.  The Thatcher’s followed him pushing the guards forward, their hands tied behind them and their mouths covered with duct tape.

‘Everybody will now move to the managers’ offices quietly, or die here.’

Tony Blair, now waving his semi-automatic weapon at the cashiers, spoke in a loud, but calm and controlled voice.  Clegg and Cameron, having locked the doors with the guards’ keys and disabled the alarm system, now proceeded to bind the sobbing and frightened cashiers’ hands behind their backs and tape their mouths with duct tape.  Then the coalition marched them out and through the managers’ door to the back offices.  Gordon Brown took out one of the empty sacks the men had brought in and piled on the floor of the main room and started emptying the cash registers into it.

‘Lock them in and get working on the vault.  I will keep a watch out here,’ Blair nodded to the Clegg and Cameron coalition.

The room became quiet as the main activities and the people moved to the back offices and the vault of the bank.  Outside a motorcycle with its silencer removed and its engine backfiring could be heard driving around the bank, its antics likely organised by the gang to drown out the noise of any shots fired inside.  Jeremy decided to reverse back down his ventilation duct towards the safer corner of the room where his boxes were stacked behind the enquiries counter, taking a good fifteen minutes to reach the vent above the space.

From his new vantage point the first thing he saw was the young clerk crouching under the enquiries counter.  The thieves had missed him during the commotion at the onset of the heist.   The lad must have access to the security alarm under that desk, Jeremy thought; he must have pressed the alert and the authorities would soon be here.  How would they handle the hostage situation?  He wouldn’t be surprised if the swat teams said “to hell with the lives, let’s go save the money” and charged in, he thought.

By now the men had started bringing in sacks of cash and other valuables and piling them on the floor in the middle of the room.  Somehow they had gotten into the vault very fast, possibly by threatening the branch manager’s life.  Blair opened a sack, took out a handful of gold jewelry studded with diamonds, and laughed out loud.

It all happened in a second.  The lad must have been crouching under the table on his toes for he lost his balance and fell backwards onto his bum, his body nudging the chair and making it roll out on its wheels a couple of feet before he could stop it.  They held their breath as Blair stopped rummaging in the sacks and looked over his shoulder.  He picked up his semi-automatic assault rifle and walked towards the inquiries counter.  As the clerk came into his field of vision Blair must have reached the same conclusion that Jeremy had about the security alarm, the authorities, the swat teams, and the money for he pointed his rifle at the clerk and barked out some angry words to summon his gang.  The lad panicked and lunged at the rifle pointed at him, pushing it up and away from himself as the weapon fired several rounds.  The rounds must have hit the roof.  Jeremy felt radiating pangs of intense pain on his left side as he fell down with the collapsing ceiling.


Chapter 2

Jeremy was in a comfortable bed and in bloody aching pain.  A night light, no wait … a full moon was on its night watch through the window that stretched all the way up to the high ceiling, smiling with kind concern and glazing the dark shadows of the room with a gentle light.  A beep from the green lit machines around him hopped off the seconds, or his heartbeat.  To his left a silhouette of a girl slept on an armchair, her head fallen slightly to the left and onto her chest.  Jeremy needed a drink of water, but he could not move his hands.  Oh God, he thought, he could not move his legs or his hands.

‘Oh God, I cannot move my legs or my hands!’

Jeremy was certain he was screaming, but what he heard coming out of his mouth was a weak groan.  It felt like he was outside his own body trying to get in.  Still it must have been loud enough, for the girl snapped her head back straight and sat up.

. . .

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Sunday, 19 January 2014

Cozy Mysteries


Cozy Mysteries are distinguishable by a likable everyday hero, a tightly woven plot that engages the mind, and well cast characters formed with depth.

The character solving the crime is often an amateur sleuth who becomes involved because of personal reasons. This person uncovers the criminal through an emotional or intellectual examination of the scene, the suspects, and the clues. The main character may tell the story in the first person or in the third person. Many cozies invite the reader to solve the crime first and clues are given throughout the pages.

The victim in a cozy should not be someone who is terribly missed. Cozies are, for the most part, feel good stories. Murder is wrong, but someone had to die for the plot to get underway. The criminal in a cozy is usually motivated by human traits of greed, jealously, or revenge. You won't find many serial or thrill killers in cozies. The criminal may commit a second crime during the story, but again any violence takes place between the lines and not on the page.

Supporting characters in a cozy can be eccentric, exasperating, or entertaining. They don't have to be likable but none are so outrageously evil that they might cause the reader to stop reading. These people include the suspects (of whom the criminal is actually one), innocent bystanders, and those who may help the main character.


While Agatha Christie popularized the small English village as a setting, cozies can take place anywhere. Typically, a cozy has a small setting so that the pool of suspects is limited and relationships can be developed. Since the main character does not usually have access to forensic laboratories, the solution of the crime depends on talking to characters who all know each other.

The cozy is often a puzzle where all the pieces are available for assembly, even if the one which points at the killer needs to be flipped or examined more closely. The precipitating crime either occurs before the story starts or soon after it begins. The main character becomes involved (happily or not) and sets out to solve the injustice. As the sleuth gathers clues and gossip, there may be a threat which increases tension.
There may also be fear that a second crime might occur, and it might. The cozy is not a roller coaster ride as much as it is an examination of human frailty. Instead of unexpected plot twists, cozies are known for surprising revelations. In the end, the main character, and justice, prevail.

While graphic sex is out, romance may play a part in the cozy. If the romance starts to be as strong as the mystery, the story crosses over into another sub-genre of mystery: romantic suspense.

The final thing you will like about cozies is their delicious covers.





Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Cast of The Reckless Engineer Celebrates Christmas the Year Before

The cast of The Reckless Engineer celebrates Christmas the year before while a storm is brewing that would explode less than ten months later.

Jac Wright, Author, The Reckless Engineer
Jeremy clutched his steering wheel in anger mixed with a kind of ache that had not lessened after all these months. He had pulled over outside Maggie’s house, having driven all the way to Southampton from London to surprise her, a wrapped present of diamond studded anklets forlorn on the seat next to him. Maggie had gorgeous feet with long French manicured toes and he had longed to latch the anklets around them. That, however, was Gregory’s SUV in her driveway.  Jeremy had been sure that Maggie and he were back together for good when she had driven over to his flat in London Kensington and stayed three nights with him just last week. The sex had been so intimate, powerful, and he had poured his heart out to her about his worries about his new company. Radio Silicon’s had finished its first engineering contract a month ago and, try as he might, Jeremy had not been able to land another one in this recession. He needed her now.  How could she be with him and then sleep with Gregory only a few days later as if she and he had never happened?
        He couldn’t go home to Mother. He had told his parents that he was spending Christmas with Maggie. They loved Maggie and were so proud of her, and he had never told them that she had broken up and moved out.
        He thought for a moment and pressed the fast-dial button on his mobile. ‘Hey, Harry. I’m coming over for Christmas after all. You still have a place open around your dinner table?’
        Thank god for Harry, his best friend––as far as Jeremy was concerned, almost his brother. Growing up on the same street together, Jeremy had defended Harry from the playground bullies through their school years and Harry had bailed him out of all the trouble he got into during their university days together at Stanford. With another glance at Maggie’s house, which sent something like an acidic lump burning its way from the back of his throat through his heart down to his gut, Jeremy put his car back into gear. The Fortnum & Mason hamper and the bottle of champagne on his back seat would go to Christmas dinner with him at Harry’s place.
* * *
        The Family was gathered in the Sitting Room of the McAllen mansion in Aberdeen. After a hearty Christmas dinner they were now enjoying an assortment of deserts in the Sitting Room. It was eerie how much this room reflected the Sitting Room in his own house in Guildford, Jack thought; but then Caitlin and Douglas McAllen had directed the designs and the build of that part of their house and Caitlin had wanted her own little bit of Scotland right in the heart of Hampshire.
        The men were in tartan kilts, a variation derived from the tartan of the MacAlister clan the family descended from. Douglas McAllen always insisted on it. Jack felt ridiculous in the skirt, but he would dare not show anything but enthusiasm to anyone in “The Family” even though he always privately complained about it to Caitlin (which she would answer by asking him to stop being so cross all the time). That morning he had had to follow the McAllen men and join a long procession of nearly fifty Scottish clans for a slow march around Aberdeen to the wail of bagpipes after which they had been served steaming bowls of soup and bread at the church-hall. He had to admit he had felt something primal and exhilarating about all that male tribal energy in the hall after the march, and the buttered bread soaked in the soup had tasted so good.
        Gillian was helping little one-year-old Kristie unwarp the presents around the brightly lit Christmas tree while the toddler’s proud parents, Ronnie and Elise, and grandma Leanna looked on, laughing and applauding. McAllen briefly stopped the discussion with Jack on the electromagnetic telemetry tool for detecting oil and gas reservoirs that was on Jack’s planning table at the McAllen Blackgold offices down south to look on at his granddaughters with a proud benevolent smile. Jack could sense he had McAllen all excited about this device, but why the hell the he kept probing him about the electro-mechanical details that only an electrical engineer could understand Jack didn't know.  Well, he had got used to humouring the old man, keeping his impatience in check.  Jack followed McAllen's gaze and glanced around the room. The McAllen women were all in tartan skirts but for Caitlin who had had a pair of trousers made out of her family tartan. Caitlin always liked to wear the trousers.
        A splash, splash of water drew Jack’s attention to the pool outside the large French patio doors.  As usual Peter had tagged along up to Scotland with everybody and, as usual, he was swimming his evening laps outside in the heated swimming pool. As he had promised Marianne, Jack would fly down to Portsmouth with Peter tomorrow morning, leaving the rest of his family behind, and have Boxing Day dinner with his own kids, Peter and Mark, and his mother at Marianne’s.
        A text vibrated the Blackberry in Jack’s hand. There wasn’t even a pocket to keep his phone in this bloody costume. Jesus, it was Michelle with one of those “sextexts” as she called them. It had been six months since he had got involved with Michelle and now he wanted out. He had broken up with her just before Christmas. A sudden tremor of fear ran through him like a chill. She had thrown a tantrum and threatened to tell Caitlin all about the affair, and here she was invading this respectable family scene with a brash, explicit message that had a hint of a threat in it. He had better stop by her house and pacify her before driving over to Marianne’s. Jack knew what pacifying her meant––wild, clothes tearing, sweat pouring, neck biting, back scraping, loud groaning sex. Jack took in a deep breath, puffed out his cheeks, and blew out the air slowly as if he were blowing into a bowl of hot butternut squash soup with bits of bacon in it.


Read more on THE RECKLESS ENGINEER, Jac Wright's much loved and highly reviewed classic mystery and legal thriller set in London and the beautiful coastal towns of South England and Scotland on Amazon.com.


Thursday, 19 December 2013

How To Go About Creating a Mystery & Suspense Book

In a previous post I discussed how to manage the tension in the 2 main underlying storylines in creating a series of suspense fiction.  In this post I shall try to discuss the stages one goes through in creating a Mystery and Suspense book.

Generally, for me, the core idea of the story for a book comes inextricably interwoven with the main characters in the story in a moment of sudden inspiration.  The story is very powerful when this happens.  I think for this to happen you have to be a long time reader of crime fiction and viewer of crime fiction on television and in the film media.  I have been a classics reader and a crime reader and viewer from early childhood because of the influence of my parents––my mother is an addicted reader of the classics, and my father not only reads crime fiction, but also got me addicted to crime production series like Tales of the Unexpected (based on Roald Dahl’s fiction), Perry Mason (Earle Stanley Gardner’s fiction), Mission Impossible (the TV series), and adventure series like MacGyver as a child.  I have read a lot of Agatha Christies among other crime writers I admire such as Patricia Highsmith, Benjamin Black, Ian Rankin, and Micahel Connelly.  It is never too late to start reading the leading mystery and suspense writers you admire––in fact I believe it is essential to be a voracious reader.  This acclimatizes you into thinking in Suspense subconsciously and increases the chance that a great plot idea will arise from somewhere at the back of your mind when you least expect it.

For example, I woke up late on a warm summer day last June with an image of a fugitive escaping and running away from an overturned van transporting him to court from prison that had met with an accident. Prisoners wear normal clothing in England, not orange jumpsuits, and they are not in chains.  He runs into the crowds and a bus parked behind a mall to hide among the people only to find that it is a film set.  The actor playing a main character of the movie and the director are having a fight. The actor suddenly punches the director in the face who falls backward. My protagonist fugitive hiding among the supporting film crew catches him and breaks the fall.  The director gets up, wipes the blood off his nose, fires the main actor loudly, and asks him to get out of his movie set.  He turns to my protagonist and asks: ‘You there, what’s your name?’  ‘Art Miller,’ he gives a fake name.  ‘Art, you are playing Michael Fallon. His trailer is yours now. Go with my crew and get dressed.’  And there I have the plot, the main characters, and the first chapter of my standalone book to come, In Plain Sight.

The core plot idea for The Reckless Engineer was derived as a complementary plot from the idea for The Closet that came to me in a moment of sudden inspiration––an image of my protagonist trapped in a closet overhearing the one he loves intensely saying things that break his heart.  The Closet is about the troubles my protagonist gets into because he acts blinded by passionate love for the female.  In it I am right inside my protagonist’s head, telling the reader how it feels for him––the joys, the angst, and the fears––from his point of view using a very close third person limited POV.  While thinking of coming up with a plot for The Reckless Engineer, I decided to explore this same idea, but this time I would explore the impact of the actions of my protagonist blinded by passion and romantic love from the viewpoints of the people around him; i.e. his family, friends, and people at work.

Hence, when you get an inspired idea you can think of different interesting angles of exploring it.

So, when it comes to a murder mystery, someone has to die.  Why would someone be driven to kill another person?  It has been said that the most common motive for murder is love, or rather the loss of it––many are crimes of passion.  Apparently the next most prolific motive is to prevent loss of wealth or to gain wealth.  A third common motive is self-preservation or preservation of some aspect of one’s lifestyle when one has done something seriously illegal or wrong and another person knows about it.  A fourth is for revenge for some great wrong someone has done; or to escape it if the wrongdoing is ongoing.

Great.  So we have a protagonist who is involved in a love affair blinded by romantic love. We immediately have his family around him who will have motives to kill the female for his love.  We make our protagonist very rich and there we have the motive for people around him to kill for the wealth involved.  We make our victim involved in doing some great wrong to some other characters and there they have motives to kill her for revenge or to escape this wrongdoing.  Hence, once you have the main plot idea, you build (generally 4 to 7) characters around the core characters and create a conflict each of the other characters is involved in with your victim. Along with a motive and a conflict you give each of your main characters an overriding psychology and keep each one true to his or her psychology, letting them then drive the story forward from the initial seed idea.

At this stage it helps to have studied drama and plays for the scene setting because each book is fifty or more dramatic scenes.  It also helps with your prose to have studied poetry.

Then we get down to how the victim is going to be killed.  It has been said that poison was Agatha Christie’s preferred technique, but one could have the victim pushed from a great height, suffocated while sleeping, strangled, bludgeoned with a fatal blow, drowned etc.  Since I was writing a story about electronics engineers I knew about the problem of potassium cyanide toxicity in the potassium auro cyanide (Auro or Au is the chemical name and sign for gold respectively) gold electroplating process used in electronics.  I had to do some research from this point on to actually find day-to-day used chemicals from which poisonous cyanide can be synthesised in order to give all my suspects (not just the electronics engineers) the means of accessing this murder weapon of choice.  You can replace the gold (Auro) in the compound with iron (Ferro) to have a very similar reaction with potassium ferrocynide, which is used as a normal fertilizer, and therefore I now had a murder weapon accessible to all my suspects.  (You can read a little more about this on Wikipedia.)

Then you have to select which one of the suspects you are going to make the culprit and think about how the culprit would go about concealing his or her crime.  However, he or she must make some mistakes and leave some discreet clues for our hero, the amateur sleuth, and our readers to find.

The above takes care of the Mystery or the Whodunnit, which is an intellectual process––that of detecting and analysing the clues and evidence and arriving at the clever conclusion of who did the deed.  You drive your reader through piquing his or her intellectual curiosity to uncover the crime.

Suspense, however, is an emotional process and you have to get your reader emotionally involved or the story is not strong enough.  You have to draw your reader in and get them emotionally involved with your characters––make your reader ache for your characters, anxious for them, fear for them, love and feel protective of them, or even hate some of them.  You raise the tension through the story primarily by making your reader anxious and fear for a core set of your characters while hating a few others.  At the end you relieve your readers’ anxiety and fear sustained through the book by delivering the good characters you make them love to safety and happiness.  You relieve the hatred and aversion you build for your bad characters by punishing the wrongdoers in some way.  And that I believe is what makes great Suspense Fiction.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Tension & Storylines in Writing a Series of Suspense Fiction

Writing a series of full-length suspense fiction is somewhat different from writing a standalone book. There are two storylines and two sets of characters that one needs to develop.

First you have the story of your particular book, which I shall call “the episode storyline.” In The Reckless Engineer this is Jack Connor’s story and the story about the murder. The main characters of this episode story are Jack Connor and the four beautiful but very different women that are in his life––his wife Caitlin McAllen, his ex-wife Marianne Connor, his ex-girlfriend Sally Trotter, and his latest but newly murdered squeeze, Michelle Williams.  Jack’s powerful father-in-law Douglas McAllen, his brother-in-law Ronnie McAllen, his two sons, his step-daughter, and his manager, Allan Walters, are all characters that belong to the Episode Storyline.

One needs to start the book at a point of significant tension in the Episode Storyline and develop the tension steadily and rapidly, weaving in the background information at strategic points. One also develops the Episode characters rapidly and forcefully in the foreground, with bold introductory paragraphs, such that the conflicts between them add to the mounting tension and suspense.

While this is going on, there is a series storyline that one cannot ignore. This storyline has a series lead who, in the case of a mystery, is one’s amateur sleuth, and he has some recurring characters in his life. Generally there is a sidekick or a partner.  In The Reckless Engineer series our lead Jeremy Stone has a sidekick, Otter, who will be developed further in this role in the next book. In this episode, his partner is the criminal defence attorney, Harry Stavers, who duals expertly with the police, the prosecution, and the media hounding his clients and leads the defence of the case in Crown Court while Jeremy blends in with the Episode characters and gets down to the business of solving the mystery of “who dunnit.”  There is also a second partner, Stephen Barratt, who is introduced at the very end of the story ready to be brought forth in the next book in the series.

Jac Wright, Author, British, Mystery, Legal, Thriller, Suspense, The Reckless Engineer

We introduce and develop the Series characters gently in the background throughout the story.  Their characters are revealed in discussion with the Episode characters gradually.  Jeremy, the Series lead, also has a personal life with characters Maggie Harris and Annie Wren in it. Their story develops on the slow boil on the back burner, ready to come to the foreground and play out in the next books in the series.

The Episode storyline starts at a high point of tension, rapidly develops, climaxes at the few paragraphs near the end, and drops to a satisfying ending of zero tension.  In the meantime the Series storyline develops with slowly mounting tension, peaks, and then drops a little to a level of intermediate tension at a level a little higher than at the start, ready to rise in tension again with the next book.

The two storylines, Episode and Series stories, merge where characters from the Episode storyline, if any, join the Series storyline as recurring characters in the future books. Whether and how this happens the reader would need to read The Reckless Engineer and find out.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Writing a Legal Thriller Set in the English Courts

Jac Wright, Author, British, Mystery, Legal, Thriller, Suspense, The Reckless Engineer
A Crown Court Courtroom
The Reckless Engineer is as much a legal thriller of a case through the English criminal courts as a traditional murder mystery. I thought this was fitting because the lawyers get involved the moment a suspect is taken into custody. The police get 48 hours to either charge the suspect or release him. To hold the suspect in custody for longer they must present their case to a Magistrate and get a court order showing good cause.

There are two criminal courts in the English system: the Magistrates’ Court and the Crown Court. All criminal cases start in the lower Magistrates’ Court, which continues to hear the cases of smaller crimes carrying community service or shorter custodial sentences. The cases in the Magistrates Court are usually heard by a less senior officer called a Magistrate. This lower court will pass on the hearings of more serious crimes carrying longer custodial sentences and generally requiring a jury over to the Crown Court.

Writing a legal thriller through the English courts is, however, a daunting task to take on. There are no legal thrillers set in the British courts that I am aware of.  I have read Earl Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason series in my late teens, but these stories are set in an American court. Even most of John Grisham’s cases are based in civil litigation. Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer series is the strongest contemporary criminal litigation stories I know. I decided to base no part of my book on past literature, not only because there were no past thrillers I could find based in English courts, but also because I wanted this work to be real, contemporary, and original. I decided to write it from real experience of the English courts system.


Fortunately I have a close friend who is a barrister to help me with my legal research and in whose image I have cast Harry Stavers. I followed my friend and his solicitors through months of criminal litigation, from the initial arrest and interview of suspects at police stations through to criminal appeals in the high court. I have spent many a day sitting in a courtroom, absorbing the environment and the proceedings. The rigorous and solemn Crown court hearings are a grand affair with wigged and cloaked judges and court officers.  I have also spent many hours reading my friend’s legal books searching for the right procedures and real case histories.

Behind the calm and solemn proceedings, the police station and the courtroom is arena of fierce duelling and battle. The police lie, the prosecutors lie; the witnesses and the lawyers lie at times. Unfortunately, the rich and the powerful do get away with crimes  or get light sentences while the poor get treated harshly unfairly in the British courts. I decided, however, not to explore that in the book. I decided to make the court system equally just and tough for the rich and poor alike in The Reckless Engineer.

Jac Wright, Author, British, Mystery, Legal, Thriller, Suspense, The Reckless EngineerThe result is something unique––a traditional murder mystery closely woven together with a realistic and contemporary legal thriller through the English courts.  We therefore fittingly have an English Magistrates’ courtroom in the cover art.


Buy THE RECKLESS ENGINEER on 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Drama in an Engineering Firm


With The Reckless Engineer I wanted to create an engineering hero and a series about an engineering firm. The only hero in fiction I can think of who is an engineer is Barney from the Mission Impossible TV series. There is Q from the Bond series, but he is an old and geeky supporting character working from a bunker. There are so many legal and medical dramas, but where are the dramas centred on engineering firms?  I wanted to bring an engineering drama to life, treated for an audience not familiar with the profession the same way that legal and medical dramas are.

Jac Wright, Author, British, Mystery, Legal, Thriller, Suspense, The Reckless Engineer

The environment of an engineering firm in reality is just like in the book, so much so that this could be non-fiction but for the murder set in the middle of it.  The characters are very realistic. Jack Connor, for instance, is of a somewhat smaller physique and tries to over-compensate for it by going after glamorous women. Women are somehow attracted to his brilliance and confidence at his work and well as the security and the respectability society assigns him because of his profession. Then there are people like Alan, Jack and Jeremy's boss at Marine Electronics, who make it to management positions because they have more people skills, are extrovert, and are better looking. Jeremy's character is still coming into its own and is in transition through the book and the series. He is emerging as a manager and a leader from the subordinate position he has been in so far. And then you have the super rich owners of these engineering businesses like the McAllens. There is also the occasional female engineer like Sally who is very introverted, outmanoeuvred at every opportunity by the much more glamorous and outgoing Michelle. These characters are a cross section of people you would get in an engineering firm in reality.

One important reason I wanted to create a hero like Jeremy was to attract youngsters to the field.  I have deemed this particular story to be for an 18+ audience because it deals with infidelity in the plot. The future books in the series, however, will be very YA friendly. I want young adults to know how entertaining, satisfying, powerful, and glamorous the engineering field is so that they will be attracted to the profession.

An engineer would make a very strong amateur detective. They have brilliant, sharp, and analytical minds that are trained to absorb minute details in the environment. They are strong problem solvers and solution creators; solution creation to difficult problems is what engineers do in their day to day work. If you put a problem or a question before an engineer his mind will switch into solution seeking gear and the question will bug him until he can find an answer, until he comes up with a solution that will surprise those around him. An electronics engineer also has the means and the skills to build gadgets like hidden miniature cameras, miniature microphones, and other electronics surveillance equipment. They are mechanically good with their hands and can, for example, work mechanical locks as well as electronic ones. They have the capacity to hack into anything via software. This is why Jeremy is going to be a super amateur sleuth.


Friday, 22 November 2013

My Winter & Travel Buddy in Bed

As an an electronics engineer and a published author I travel quite a bit on book tours and for work. I also like to go on holiday to exotic locations––to small island destinations and on rough safari adventures.

Away from the comfort of my own bed and with my body clock confused by daylight and time differences, sleep was getting to be a real problem. I used to turn up for book signings and meetings late or sleep deprived and feeling like a zombie; and I have wasted parts of my holidays too tired for the activities.

Jac Wright, Author, The Reckless EngineerThat was before I discovered my old trusty hot water bottle with its fluffy brown cover. I get a sturdy one ever since and like to fill it up fully with boiling water. I like to get a cover made of fleece or brushed cotton that is soft on my feet.

You do not have to wear tight uncomfortable socks in cold weather or with the inadequate covering you get in some hotels. It warms your feet while allowing the rest of your body to stay cooler and puts you into a very deep sleep very fast. It stays warm for over 8 hours and you wake up from a deep sleep feeling fresh and ready to take on the world wherever you are.

People who have been long-suffering insomniacs have told me that it is the cheapest and most effective sleep aid they have had. They love it because it does not have the nasty side effects of sleeping pills that damage your health and at times leave you feeling like a zombie. It is easy to carry; you empty it and pack it flat between your clothes. There is always a source of hot water wherever you travel and it takes just minutes to fill it up and slip it under the covers.

Jac Wright, Author, The Reckless Engineer
It has had the same effect on my family and friends I have shared this tip with, so much so that as winter approaches it has become a great holiday gift idea for the cold months.  I present people who don't already have one with a hot water bottle and fluffy covers of various patterns and colours appealing to the person's age and sex. Often I fill the cover up with surprise gifts, like one would do with a holiday sock.

It is a great travel companion and a holiday gift idea everybody will love.



Sunday, 10 November 2013

My Four Cornerstones of Fiction Writing


Jac Wright, Author, The Reckless Engineer
The deck outside The Mermaid on a misty day.

For me there are four cornerstones that hold up good fiction.
  • The Characters
  • The Plot
  • The World Building
  • Literary Prose & Narrative

I take great care with each of the four aspects in the stories I write, which comes to me naturally, for sacrificing even one aspect makes the story weak and diminishes its value––it makes the story stumble. 

The core of the plot and the main characters usually come to me inextricably interwoven together in a moment of inspiration like a segment of a film or a disjointed dream. For example, I woke up late on a warm summer day this June with an image of a fugitive escaping and running away from an overturned van transporting him to court from prison that had met with an accident. Prisoners wear normal clothing in England, not orange jumpsuits, and they are not in chains.  He runs into the crowds and a bus parked behind a mall to hide among the people only to find that it is a film set.  The actor playing a main character of the movie and the director are having a fight. The actor suddenly punches the director in the face who falls backward. My protagonist fugitive hiding among the supporting film crew catches him and breaks the fall.  The director gets up, wipes the blood off his nose, fires the main actor loudly, and asks him to get out of his movie set.  He turns to my protagonist and asks: ‘You there, what’s your name?’  ‘Art Miller,’ he gives a fake name.  ‘Art, you are playing Michael Fallon. His trailer is yours now. Go with my crew and get dressed.’  And there I have the plot, the main characters, and the first chapter of my standalone book, In Plain Sight.

At this point, the most important aspect is the characters. I am a firm believer if Virgnia Woolf's Bloomsbury school of writing. I give each one of my characters a particular psychology and then keep them true to this psychology through the story. I got interested in Freudian and Jungian schools of psychology during Stanford's Liberal Arts education program and have kept up the study of it over the years. Sometimes my writing is almost a close psychoanalysis of a character or two. I keep my characters true to their particular psychology through the story, and hence they may do a mix of things that are good or bad. However, they always remain true to their particular psychology though they sometimes struggle against it due to the demands from those around them or from their own conscience.

After I have the main plot idea and my main characters I build a world for them, although the world that I build is a little corner of contemporary Britain that we live in.  For me it is very important to do justice to the place that I set the story in (in The Reckless Engineer, that is Portsmouth, London, and Aberdeen, Scotland). My writing will always evoke a strong sense of the towns–
–its sceneries, industries, architecture, and the general atmosphere––painting these for the reader like with a brushstroke. Character and world building go hand in hand for characters cannot exist in a vacuum and must have a world they inhabit and the writer must paint the full picture of the characters in their little corner of the world, bringing the whole scene to life, in the mind of the reader.

One author who excels at world building in very poetic language in his crime fiction is Benjamin Black.  Ian Rankin is also known to favour such literary writing where no aspect is ignored or sacrificed.

I then put my characters with their individual psychologies in the world I build for them and let them drive the story forward. The plot progresses and emerges naturally from the actions of the characters who remain true to their psychology throughout.

For the writing I draw a lot from my training in classic poetry and drama. I tend to use a good amount of imagery and phonetically appealing phrasing to enhance the ambience.  I set most of the scenes as if I were writing a stage drama or a film setting. In fact each novel is a series of 50 or more dramatic scenes.

There are aspects or techniques in addition to the Four Cornerstones above that I engage in my writing. There may be socio-political, ethical, and philosophical commentary interspersed in the narrative. They enhance the structure of the story as well as character building. For example, economic stressrors in the years the story is set in will impact on how the characters act.  


Sacrificing even one of the Four Cornerstones is something I do not do. One must treat all four aspects with respect. It is silly to sacrifice one or the other because the story topples and leans in the direction of the weak cornerstone. I therefore build my stories on my Four Cornerstones of fiction writingCharacters, Plot, World Building, and Literary Prose & Narrative.


Jac Wright, Author, The Reckless Engineer
The Mermaid in Port Solent, Portsmouth


Monday, 30 September 2013

How I Get Over The Writer's Block

Jac Wright, Author, The Reckless Engineer

I write in spells.  At times I might write a dozen hours a day for over a week, and then I might not write anything again for several weeks.  Sometimes I might write for a few hours a day for weeks.  I find I cannot force myself to write when I feel the block. If I do, the writing comes out contrived and not feeling right. Inspiration has to come to me naturally.  I just have to leave the manuscript aside and do something else until the words and ideas start to flow again.

I hit the dreaded block several times during the course of writing The Reckless Engineer.

I do a couple of things when I hit the Writer's Block.  The first thing I try is setting the manuscript aside and reading a good book.  I hit a very difficult spot just before the scene in Chapter 15 of The Reckless Engineer.  I felt that the part of chapter 15 I had written was dull and was slowing down the pace of the plot. Try as I might I could not think of a way to maneuver the plot to pick up the pace again.  At this point I decided to put the writing aside and read a book.  I read two Agatha Christie books, At Bertram’s Hotel and Cards on the Table, at this point.  Then, when I returned to my writing about a week later, I decided it was time to bring the character Jack Connor home.  I had kept him in custody until that point.  I then deleted the part of that chapter I had previously written and started writing in this new direction.  Everything came easily to me after that insight into how I should progress the plot which had to occur to me in a moment of inspiration in its own time.

I reached a second nasty block when I needed to write the scenes with Jeremy at a Portsmouth seaside hotel, The Royal Atlantic.  This time I knew the plot, but the prose was not coming out right.  I had moved out of Portsmouth by then, but I decided to take three days off and check into The Royal Beach Hotel in Southsea, Portsmouth to see if I could get the words flowing again.  I did the same again, volunteering at a back-stage to help a friend at the Gielgud theatre, to write the scene set in the London West End.

I do not write while I am at the scene.  I just immerse myself in the environment and absorb the people, the sense of the surroundings, the sounds, and the views. I interact with the people and I might take some photographs.  I come out of the scene and do something entirely different for about a week, letting the ideas and the images work their magic at the back of my mind. Then when I sit down to write again the words just flow naturally.

These two techniques – reading a good book or two and immersing myself in the scenery I want to write about – have always helped me out of brief spells of the Writer's Block.  They have never failed to get me writing again.


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Reckless Engineer


Jac Wright, Author, The Reckless EngineerThe Reckless Engineer is the first in author Jac Wright's series of literary suspense, mystery, and legal drama.

Jack Connor's lives an idyllic life by the Portsmouth seaside married to Caitlin McAllen, a stunning billionaire heiress, and working at his two jobs as the Head of Radar Engineering at Marine Electronics and as the Director of Engineering of McAllen BlackGold, his powerful father-in-law Douglas McAllen's company in extreme engineering in Oil & Gas.  He loves his two sons from his first marriage and is amicably divorced from his beautiful first wife Marianne Connor.  Their idyllic lives are shattered when the sexy and alluring Michelle Williams, with whom Jack is having a secret affair and who is pregnant with his child, is found dead and Jack is arrested on suspicion for the murder.

Jeremy Stone brings in London's top defence attorney, Harry Stavers, to handle his best friend's defence.

Who is the bald man with the tattoo of a skull seen entering the victim's house? Who is "KC" who Caitlin makes secret calls to from a disposable mobile? Has the powerful Douglas McAllen already killed his daughter's first partner, and is he capable of killing again? Is Caitlin's brother Ronnie McAllen's power struggle with Jack for the control of McAllen Industries so intense that he is prepared to kill and frame him? Is the divorce from his first wife as amicable on her part as they believe it to be? Are his sons prepared to kill for their inheritance? Who are the ghosts from Caitlin's past in Aberdeen, Scotland haunting the marriage? What is the involvement of Jack's manager at Marine Electronics?

The cast of characters is made more colorful by the supporting entourage: the big bald Scott Skull and his gang Hose and Heineken, Douglas McAllen’s bumbling solicitors McKinley and Magnus Laird, the cigar smoking private investigators Cossack and Levent, and the gay black actor working in the London West End, Otter.

While Jack is charged and his murder trial proceeds in the Crown Court under Harry’s expert care, Jeremy runs a race against time to find the real killer and save his friend, if he is in fact innocent, in a lurid saga of love, desire, power, and ambition.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas Alone


A few years ago I had to spend Christmas alone. I say “I had to,” but I mean that a series of events within and out of my control conspired in such a way that it came about I was spending Christmas alone.

I had just started a new engineering contract in a northern city in England far from home, home being the shores of Portsmouth on the southern sea front of England at the time. My new contract was as an electronic engineer with a manufacturer of medical devices such as MRI scanners, ultrasound scanners, and life support machines such as ventilators and heart-lung monitors. Our company not only designed, manufactured, and installed the machines, but also provided second-line support. Given the nature of their use, at least one engineer had to be in the labs or on call at all times to provide support and troubleshoot the devices should a problem arise at a client site. Being new to the company, I wanted to impress my very good looking boss. Also being Buddhist and having no kids I thought it would be a great Christmas gift to give my Christian colleagues to let them go home to their kids on Christmas Eve.

I was also about a year into my current relationship. I had tactfully avoided going to my boyfriend’s house for Christmas the year before by telling him it was too early to meet the parents, but it was getting difficult to do that again this year. The poor guy had missed spending the previous holidays with his family to stay and celebrate Christmas with me. This was the only excuse I had to send him home for Christmas on his own. It wasn’t so much the parents, but the sisters, man. Parents were adorable, but I was terrified of sisters-in-law. I was highly skeptical of Steig Larsson’s interpretation in his books (The Millennium Trilogy) of some fathers as daughter killers for I think fathers are dear creatures who, even when they were rapists and serial killers of other women, when it came to their own daughters they were driven by the same protective instincts as mother hens. However, there was something definitely Freudian and incestuous about sisters-in-law’s relationships with one’s boyfriend or husband. I vividly remembered how the two sisters-in-law had tortured me in my first relationship. I was a “gold digger” who had stolen their brothers’ monthly pay that had rightfully come to them as presents. I had stolen his time which he had been spending babysitting their little ones. I had cooked wrong, hadn’t cleaned enough, had folded the bathroom towels wrong, and so went my list of errors. I had been deemed a bad engineer for having to go to a third interview to meet the MD to secure a job, having already completed technical, phone, and first face-to-face interviews. (Multi stage interviews like this were a common practice in Engineering by the way.) All this had led to fights in the bedroom with my then husband.

Experiences with subsequent boyfriends’ sisters after the divorce had been almost as bad, and this one had three. So you could say I jumped at the chance of sending my cutie home for Christmas alone, explaining that my boss had asked me to work over Christmas.

Christmas day in the lab was itself uneventful and I came home at six in the evening to a microwave dinner in my new flat. It was a crisp clear night at 10ºC (50ºF) and I decided I was going to take the 25 minute walk into the city to stretch my legs and see if anything interesting was going on. I only had to have my phone with me to be on call and I took my laptop with mobile broadband in a backpack, just to be prepared in case an urgent support call were to come through. As I was taking the brisk walk into town, it occurred to me that I had never been in a city at Christmas; I had always been at home around a warm fire or at a nice big party surrounded by friends and relatives. This was going to be a novel experience, which was a good thing, I told myself.

I could not understand how the city could be so deserted at 7 in the evening. With shops normally open till 9 this place was always buzzing like a beehive as far as I knew. Not a soul was in sight; not a shop open for sales. It felt surreal. I had grabbed a couple of bottles of beer on my way out of the flat which I proceeded to enjoy all alone on my favourite bench in front of the mall, watching the stars. I walked the deserted, but well lit streets and pavements for a while before the beers started to take effect and I desperately needed the loo.

I walked over to the public toilets which, to my alarm, were closed and locked! I walked over to some of the familiar pubs, and I walked the crowded market street in the desperate hope of finding some place open, to no avail. Then it occurred to me that I was all alone and no one was there to see me if I were to choose one of the many islands of bushes. I contemplated the big patch of bushes separating the cinema from the car park, complaining of God’s sex discrimination at how badly designed we were for this. The city that seemed so deserted suddenly felt like it was thronging with crowds. I knew this was irrational, but the city was a place where millions of people roamed, and I felt that now that they were safe and happy in nice warm homes, their guardian angels were roaming the city all alone just like me.

I headed over to the park where there were several overgrown patches of land out of the immediate site of any roaming guardian angels and carefully picked a patch of overgrown bushes with an enclave nicely hidden away. After a minute or two, I was happily on my way once again to enjoy the city centre without discomfort.

Not so soon. No sooner I had made my way out of the bushes than I felt a stinging sensation. With my hand I could feel my back patched with stinging, itchy, swollen spots. I had had contact with poison ivy or stinging nettle, or I had been stung by some creature whose lazy nest of winter hibernation I had rudely disturbed. Soon my back was covered with patches of swollen blotches which were spreading gradually but surely. It was time to panic because I was someone who was allergic to many unpredictable things. Some years ago I had suddenly broken out in a rash of blotches in my gym. The rash had spread fast all over my body and in the end I had been taken to the A&E with my tongue swollen and wheezing from the respiratory tract being blocked by the swelling. It had turned out that I had been having an allergic reaction to Olbas oil that the friend I was working out with had released into the steam in the sauna; and the oil had accidentally spilled onto the clothes I had worn after the workout. The blotches were spreading over my back and upper thighs now. The situation could get serious very rapidly.

I quickly dialled several taxi companies, intending to take a taxi to the nearest Accident and Emergency ward, picking the numbers from the yellow pages app on my iPhone. I had made about 10 calls, all of which went unanswered, before I realized that none of the taxi companies were working on Christmas Eve either. The blotches were spreading up my back and down my legs now. I called 911 and the operator put me through to someone who advised me to describe clearly where I was and then to remain there and wait for them.

I sat on the park bench and waited, swollen and itching all over, for what seemed like an eon. I had never had to call the emergency services before and I suddenly realized that the emergency number in England was 999; I had remembered 911 from the 9-11 disaster in New York. I thought 999 was much more appropriate because 9 was the unluckiest number possible and it suitably represented a situation of maximum possible bad luck that one would have to be in, as I was, to call it. Number 1 was my lucky number (having been born on the 19th of the month which added up to 1) and the two 1’s diminished the bad luck representation of the leading 9. Anyway, it turned out, as I learned by chance, that 911 is also redirected to 999 in England in order to accommodate the accidental use of the American convention.

I had to go through the humiliating experience of explaining my misadventure while being examined and treated by the paramedics. They had in fact arrived within 7 minutes of my call though it had seemed much longer to me. I was later taken to the A&E where I was monitored until the blotches and swelling went down. The next morning I was able to take a taxi home to my flat.

The moral of the story is that, just as the City never sleeps, it is also never empty, even on Christmas Eve. If you do wrong things in it there are City Elves who will make you suffer.  Also your sisters-in-law will always get you somehow.


For stories of life and love in the world of high tech engineering look out for Jac Wright's upcoming series The Reckless Engineer.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Review: Deconstructing Harry

Spoiler alert:  This post contains spoilers on the film Deconstructing Harry by Woody Allen.

I am not one to buy films or TV programs as DVD’s or CD’s.  While I meticulously buy the books I read in paperback format, having decided to eliminate the expense of ever buying a hardcover if a paperback is available and being very reluctant to commit myself to electronic format that robs me of the pleasures of the feel of the cover and pages and also tires my sight, I have not extended the habit to proceed to acquiring film media.  I like to view my films either in a cinema, and those that I miss or omit as not deserving a visit to the big screen I borrow, preferably by mail order.  As of this writing I own a single series of TV programs – the full eight “Monk” series – in digital format on iTunes, and I own a single DVD of a somewhat obscure Woody Allen film titled “Deconstructing Harry” and I own it for the reason that, however obscure, it resonates with me so intensely.

I love Woody Allen movies with such vehemence that I do not hesitate to augment the old adage commonly used to describe his works, that “you either love them or hate them,” with my own addendum “if you hate them you are a tasteless fool,” at least with respect to his top ten ranked films amongst which Deconstructing Harry falls.  It is the main storyline that moves me so much.  The story is about a man who is does not function well in real life situations and who has ended up alone with a life that is somewhat of a mess.  One of his main failures is that he is a serial philanderer who is so weak that he ruins his relationships in deplorable ways, at times by resorting to prostitutes.  We also know that he has been thrown out of his university for some unknown mess up.  He messes up the relationship with his son also by inappropriate misguidance that he gives and by being a horrible role model that his mother is not willing to let him have contact with him.  The protagonist Harry Block, played by Woody Allen himself, is a writer and he uses his writing to express the anxieties and situation he experiences in real life, often conversing with the characters that actually come to life for him.  Woody Allen forms an allegory of his inability to function well in social situations and in real life, and his failures in relationships and social situations by the creation of the character of “the man who is out of focus” played adorably by Robin Williams.  He literally slides out of focus and cannot be seen clearly by his family, friends, or colleagues, and his children have to be fitted with glasses purely to see their dad.

We know, however, that the one thing he does well is writing.  He has won awards for his writing and his old university who kicked him out is now preparing to honour him with an honorary degree.  The main storyline is that he is preparing to go to his award ceremony, but he has no one to take with him.  He is desperate to take his son to the honorary ceremony that marks the one thing that he is proud of and is a success at, but his pleadings with his bitter ex-wife fail.

On his way home alone he runs into an acquaintance, Richard, who also strikes a chord in one because of his loneliness in the big city of New York.  Richard is so alone that he has no one who will come with him to hospital to check up on his heart which he is worried about, although what is so dysfunctional about him that he is so alone is not extrapolated.  He asks Harry to come with him to the health examination, and afterwards Harry invites him to accompany him to the award ceremony, which invitation Richard declines at the time.

Harry goes home alone and resorts to his old vice by hiring a prostitute, Cookie, and ends up inviting her to stay the night at his house and accompany him to the award ceremony the next day.

The next day, as they set off for the event, Richard turns up and wants to come although one is left to wonder whether this is because of gratitude or loneliness with a definite bias towards loneliness.  Cookie is dressed in a revealing pink two piece number that screams she is a prostitute with a definite bias towards loneliness.  On the way they decide to stop by Harry’s son’s school and forcibly take him from the woman picking up the child.  Harry turns up at the award ceremony with the police after him for kidnapping the child, with Richard dead in his back seat, and a prostitute dressed in pink work gear.  He literally slides out of focus in a panic at how badly he has handled the situation of a ceremony so important to him by “turning up with a dead body and a hooker”, and it is Cookie who takes charge and talks him into focus by returning his attention to the award he is about to receive for the writing he loves and is so good at.  The movie ends on the note of the man who is literally “out of focus” except when he is doing his work as a writer, the one thing he is successful at in his life.

This work resonates so intensely with me because I feel out of focus except when I am writing or working on my electronics as an engineer.  I should hasten to add I do not draw a parallel to Harry Block literally – i.e. I do not resort to prostitutes and such likes; but I feel socially anxious often and I function best through my work.


Posted on behalf of Jac Wright.


Jac Wright, Author, The Reckless Engineer
Woody Allen (Harry Block) has the Writers' Block.

Jac Wright, Author, The Reckless Engineer
Robin Williams is Out-of-Focus in Deconstructing Harry