People say to me: how did you come up with a story about magic creatures and demons running round Manchester? My answer is always the same: “It’s the advice given to all new writers. Write what you know!”
I’ve never been in the police force, but I’ve grown up watching Columbo, Hill Street Blues, Inspector Morse, CSI and the like. Ordinary people solving real problems, and all having their own foibles and inner demons. Also, the stories usually have a defined structure, although obviously not always the same one.
On the other side of the coin, the last few decades have given us some great British comedy. I’m a fan of Fawlty Towers, Red Dwarf, Spike Milligan, Ross Noble, Tommy Cooper, The Young Ones and a host of other shows and comedians. (There’s some I can’t stand too, but it’s a subjective thing.)
I’ve been a Sci Fi fan for as long as I can remember, from early Doctor Who and Star Trek through Asimov and Herbert. I love the idea of strange beings in strange places who still have to deal with the problems we ‘ordinary humans’ do. I also like seeing what happens to ‘ordinary humans’ who find themselves in these strange places.
And last but by no means least: Fantasy. I got into this a bit later. It’s the same sort of appeal for me; just different kinds of strange beings in different kinds of situations. And I’ve never seen any reason why you can’t have Fantasy, Sci Fi and ‘real world’ all co-existing. I guess that stems from growing up with Marvel Comics, where they have superheroes, secret agents, mad scientists, magic, vampires and all sorts of other things in the same universe.
So, I thought, how do I pull these disparate influences into one story? Can I write a crime fantasy science fiction comedy? Answer: No, I can’t. That’s just too manic. But could I write a fantasy comedy based around a detective story with some sci-fi references? Yes, I thought, I could. So I did.
There are more tales about Inspector Paris and his merry band of misfits in the pipeline. Also some other stories which are completely different, but still mixing a few different things together. It keeps me on my toes.