Dead and Talking by Des Burkinshaw @DesBirkenshaw @rararesources #guestpost #deadandtalking

Happy hump day all!

Today I have a guest post from the author of this intriguing story! If you were to be an author would you be a planner or would you fly by the seat of your pants?😃

Dead & Talking

If a ghost appeared from nowhere, rescued you from suicide and then ordered you to start solving crimes to help dead people, what would you do? When it happens to Porter Norton, he just wants to put his head in his hands and have nothing to do with it. But now he has to atone for the family curse that has seen all the men die at their own hands for five generations. The Gliss, the sarcastic spirit that rescues him, says he can now and see and hear the Dead – if he’s close to their remains. Porter has to use his unwelcome gift to clear up past injustices. Or else. Forced to investigate the murder of a WW1 British Tommy executed for spying in 1917, he begins to suspect the case has links to his own family history. Along the way, Porter enlists the help of a bickering group of misfits, who struggle to stay involved – because only fools believe in the supernatural, don’t they? Full of pop culture references, banter and twists, the story takes us from present-day London and Flanders to scenes from World War 1. As Porter, The Gliss, and friends, get deeper into the explosive case, they discover their own lives and sanity are at stake. An evil from WW1 pursues them all.

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Born in the middle of the Summer of Love on a pre-fab council estate in Luton, teenage bitterness and a chance viewing of the Watergate movie, All the President’s Men, made him vow to become a journalist and bring down the government. 

First he had to pay for his journalism course, so he became a civil servant. Literally the day he had enough for his fees, he packed it in.
Twelve years on from watching the film, he was a journalist at The Times and had a big hand in bringing down John Major’s government. News ambitions sated, he packed that in too. 

Several years of working for Channel 4, ITV and the BBC as a senior producer saw him working across the world, but he eventually got fed up with asking bands how the new album was coming along, and packed it in. 

He set up his own production company magnificent! in 2002 and simultaneously worked on the BBC Live Events team for another 10 years. But then six years of work on the Olympics came along, so he packed the BBC in. Again. 

Des has jammed with many of his heroes from Paul McCartney to Brian Wilson, Queen to Nancy Sinatra. He has interviewed many A-listers, including David Bowie, Michael Caine, John Cleese and even Noam Chomsky. 

He has directed/produced a fairly long list of people – Muse, Coldplay, Michael Jackson, Jay-Z, produced BBC3’s Glastonbury coverage for a couple of years, made films about leprosy in India, comedy shorts with Miranda Hart and Lenny Henry and played guitar for Chas and Dave at the Hackney Empire. 

He has made 300+ short films for the Queen, MI5, the BBC, Sky, Discovery, EMI, the British Academy and dozens of authorities, charities and private sector firms. His most recent publication was a series of interviews with leading academics like Mary Beard on the state of the humanities which was published as a standalone magazine by the British Academy.

Fed up with travelling and determined to be a half-decent dad, he now works in London as often as he can. He runs the Young Directors Film School making movies with young people and is about to head up the Digital Film and Video MA at Tileyard. An avid musician and producer, he releases his third album as Romano Chorizo (he plays drums, bass, piano, guitar and really bad sax). 

He hates to be pigeon-holed, thinks creativity is a learned state of mind and wishes they would teach people memory and learning techniques at school. 

Dead & Talking is his first novel, the first in a series of Porter & The Gliss investigations.

Social Media Links –, facebook as Des Burkinshaw

Giveaway to Win 3 x Signed Copies of Dead & Talking (Open INT)

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Pantsing v Plotting

Pantsing versus Plotting – that old chestnut by Des Burkinshaw

I’ve been writing all my life. For magazines, papers, scripts, and all my early attempts at fiction – none of the latter deemed worthy enough by me to see publication.

When I finally decided to get serious and write the book I’d been dreaming of, I spent six months reading every book on writing I could get my hands on. By the end of the first book I realised why my earlier attempts had failed. I pantsed them. I instinctively knew there must be two types of writer; I just didn’t have names for them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved many books written by authors who’ve outed themselves as pantsers, but my background as a journalist probably skewed me to be a plotter by temperament.

I used the Snowflake method to develop my plot for my debut novel Dead & Talking. Eventually I had a 30,000-word outline. I can see now that is a ridiculously big outline, but it carried dialogue suggestions as well as a chapter-by-chapter plot breakdown.

Once I had the outline, which I ran past three or four friends, I started writing. Bang. First draft 2 months later. Cramming in everything in the outline meant the resulting book was way too long at 130,000 words.

I listened to my editor and we got it down to 110, 000, still the absolute limit for a supernatural mystery. I didn’t miss the 20,000 words that were cut and neither did the story.

What I was left with was a very tight, intricately plotted, red herring-laced mystery. Because I knew exactly what the story was, I was able to concentrate on things like character and dialogue development – as well as prose style.

So I’m going to be a plotter forever, right? Wrong.

Buoyed by completing my first novel, I decided to get straight on with the YA book I’d also always wanted to write. But, for an experiment, I decided to mostly be a pantser. I say, mostly, because I thought of some characters in a situation, a rough idea for the ending, and then pantsed my way between joining the dots.

It was only 20,000 words this time and, locked away, doing it like this took only a week to get draft 1 done. I’m used to rewriting, editing, and subbing away the flab, so believe me, there are half a dozen rewrites to go before I publish it, but I really enjoyed the process.

Just as Stephen King predicted, all kinds of strange things happen when you’re pantsing. They do when you’re a plotter too or you wouldn’t have a plot, but the big difference is that with pantsing, things are revealed as you write, not during preparation. This was quite exciting, as I became almost a reader – what happens next?

My main project is the Porter and the Gliss series and I’m currently working on Book 2.

So am I pantsing that? No. The hallmark of book 1, Dead & Talking, is the intricate plotting. Dozens of readers have commented on that already in reviews gathered before July 9th release day. However, I will not be writing a 30,000-word outline this time. More like 3,000, the barebones of the story, so that I can still pants within that.

As is so often the case in life, it’s not one extreme or the other that gives the best results, but a blend of both.

2 thoughts on “Dead and Talking by Des Burkinshaw @DesBirkenshaw @rararesources #guestpost #deadandtalking

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