Triggers: Gore, Violence, Strong Language, Mental Disturbance
Good Friday Lovely People of the internet!
As promised, today is the day you get to hear less of what I found as a reader in David Horscroft’s Fletcher, and more of what the author intended for the work.
I think its pretty rare to be able to have so stark a contrast in reader and writer feelings about a work made obvious as a commentary. I kind of think its important too. Readers are subjective beings, swayed by history, context, preference and who knows, maybe even neuro-atypical leanings. *shrugs and rattles her pin box*
As a writer, that’s a pretty key thing to remember, and totally license to disregard the majority of that mean-spirited review you got that one time.
I’ve always felt that stories are more of a conversation, a complex interplay between writer and reader, and between what was intended and what was found.
Regardless, these are the words and thoughts of David Horscroft, who speaks about writing as elegantly as he writes!
K Fletcher is a very complete and nuanced character. How did your protagonist come to be? Were they a character you met, discovering their past and internal world in steps, or were they a carefully constructed character built in stages?
Fletcher initially started as an in-joke between myself and my sisters, as a kind of extremist take on the growling, sarcastic detective trope. The initial construction of the character morphed from there, in repeated cycles of me thinking out and envisioning the character’s actions. If something felt “right” to say or think, while I was stepping into the character of Fletcher, then I’d repeat it and analyse it and fold it into the development. Thus the growling detective began to blossom a slutty side, and developed into the whimsical psychopath that Fletcher is today.
Short answer: very much the first. I slowly discovered the voice of Fletcher as I wrote and imagined their world; there was far more explicit planning and construction around the characters of Vincent, Valerie and even Strauch.
Why did you want to explore a character like Fletcher? What sort of story did exploring a character like that allow you to tell?
Bad people have stories to tell, too. I wanted to see if I could take a character who is — by any metric — utterly monstrous, and see if I could get some portion of the audience to root for them. I wanted Fletcher to be utterly irredeemable. I wouldn’t even consider them an anti-hero; unlike similar “Whimsical Psychopath” characters like Dexter and Deadpool, Fletcher was to have no underlying set of rules, no guiding principles, nothing aside from chaos and malice. I didn’t even want to make them seem particularly human: I’d rather they came across as a smirking force of murderous nature, and despite this, I wanted to have some of my readers root for the hurricane.
I could suggest that I had some underlying intention; that I wanted people to root for Fletcher and, through that, discover the Fletcher inside them, but I’m no-where near that subtle. I wanted Fletcher to shock, repulse and even annoy the reader, but I wanted them to keep reading despite themselves, because then I could communicate the morbid, compelling curiosity with which Fletcher sees the world around them.
What relationship arc did you envision the reader having with Fletcher as the story progressed? I found Fletcher likable and sympathetic. Is that what you hoped for from a reader?
I’m surprised that you found Fletcher likeable and sympathetic; that certainly wasn’t my intention. I wanted to have Fletcher draw people in with my attempts at humour, sure, and to connect with the more hedonistic, impulsive side of things, but simultaneously I didn’t want Fletcher to be a character one could relate to. In the end, I wanted people to root for Fletcher because it would be unsatisfying for it to end with anything other than their victory.
I regularly tried to remind the reader: K Fletcher is not a nice person. They are not like you. There is a depth of madness that very few can plumb, and at the bottom of that well sits Fletcher, rolling in the muck. Those who found them likeable clearly didn’t heed my many warnings; so maybe that says more about you than it does about me? Just a thought 🙂
Did you build Fletcher to fit the world of the book or did you build the world to fit the character?
I created Fletcher first, and the world grew around them. One of the issues with having a character like Fletcher, is that it’s almost impossible to have any good characters around them. A good character, playing by the rules, has no chance against Fletcher; they’d be knife-fodder by sunrise. So, a world had to grow around them: an angry, broken world filled with broken people.
The gutterages, for instance, existed partially to quarantine Fletcher from the rest of society from a plot standpoint. Fletcher works best in solitude, and an apartment on a busy street wouldn’t help that.
Finally, and this is a bit of a sucky question, but bear with me: if you had to describe the story as asking one or a bunch of fundamental questions about things are (the way the world is, human nature, the narrative of heroes and villains, anything really), what would that question or those questions be?
In a way, I almost didn’t want to communicate fundamental questions with this book. Something we see often in crime fiction is what I feel to be a forced layering of characters: an interrogation into human nature in an attempt to suggest that the villain is just a sad victim of their circumstances. And, in the general case, this is right. In the real world, even the worst serial killers often come from broken homes and systems of violence which destroyed whatever connection to their humanity they had.
But some people aren’t layered like that. Some people are shallow and vindictive, and wantonly cruel, for no reason other than a perfect storm of genetics and superficial circumstance. Sometimes, when someone is bad, they aren’t being bad for any higher reason: they’re being bad because they think it’s fun, and that’s what they’re about. I reject the notion that everything has an underlying explanation; that the actions of everyone are rooted in the actions of others.
I didn’t want to turn the lens inwards and ask: is everyone Fletcher in some significant way? Because no: they aren’t.
At the heart of the character, K Fletcher is pretty simple. Fight, fuck, kill, drink, repeat. And a book that tried to communicate anything more profound would have betrayed the voice in which it was narrated.
The book, and the things that you will find and see in it will most likely be a little different for you than for David, or me, or any of the other reviewers and interviewers that you can find here:
Bout the best way to find your truth about it, if this is a story that interests you and you are comfortable with the triggers that it contains, is to grab yourself a copy at ICON 2017
Gallagher Estate – Hall 2 (Midrand)
Friday 16th June (public holiday) 9am to 6 pm
Saturday 17th June 9 am to 6 pm
Sunday 18th June 9 am to 5 pm
Tickets: R120.00 – Day pass
R250.00 – Weekend pass
The book will be on sale at Abi Godsell’s stand in Artists alley for R200.00 as a standalone purchase, or R180.00 as part of the usual Abi Godsell combo deal (which is basically, buy more than one book, get a little knocked off each one because we like folks who read LOTS).
Read my take on it in Part 1: Fletcher a review
Otherwise, have yourselves a delightful weekend with many story conversations.