Why I Turned to Crime – Adam Hamdy
For publication of the ebook novella, RUN, ahead of his thriller, PENDULUM, Adam Hamdy looks at why he turned to crime
Posted on September 21, 2016 in Guest Author
Tags: Adam Hamdy, Author Content, Run, pendulum, thriller
“If you can find any happiness or satisfaction in another field of endeavour, you should do so, because the real reason to get involved in the arts is because you have no choice…”
Paul Schrader, Screenwriter
“If you can do anything else, kids, do it.”
Thomas Williams, Novelist
I’ve tried ‘anything else’ and I can’t do it. If you’re pressed for time and want the eight word, attention-deficit disorder elevator pitch: I write because life without writing is empty.
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember: short stories, skits, plays, journals, any form that allowed me to express the rich worlds and gabbling characters that filled my head. I’ve also been working ‘anything else’ jobs since the age of thirteen. When the recent #first7jobs craze swept Twitter, I realised I’d had my first seven jobs before I left university. I’d delivered newspapers, sweated over laundry, scrubbed toilets, delivered luggage, sold cigarettes, clockwork radios, and Wimbledon tickets. Like most of the 99%, my parents faced the struggle of trying to make ends meet, so if I wanted anything extra, I had to work for it.
I studied law at university, determined to earn enough money not to have to endure the hardships my family faced. But my degree never gave me the same smile as writing, so after I finished, I stowed my plans to become a barrister and declared that I was going to be a creative. The adventure lasted less than a year, largely due to my ignorance of the fact that writing professionally requires a tremendous amount of dedication and time to truly find a voice.
Straight out of university, I lacked the discipline, patience, and funds, so I got another ‘anything else’ job in the insurance industry, and soon found myself working as a management consultant advising businesses all over the world. It was a job many people would envy: the money, the travel, the influence without responsibility, but inveterate malcontent that I was, I found myself deeply unhappy and, after losing someone close to me, said life’s too short, quit the corporate world, and declared myself a writer, much to the bemusement of colleagues and friends and the consternation of family.
My wife and I moved to the middle of nowhere and I wrote. I started with screenplays because I felt comfortable with the form. I wrote between twelve and fourteen hours a day, six or seven days per week, and as we ate through our savings, holidays became a long-forgotten luxury. Our car went from a slick new machine to a knackered twenty-year-old wreck, and our social life became almost non-existent because we simply couldn’t afford to keep up with our professional friends.
But that suited me: fewer distractions meant more writing. I wrote obsessively, working on screenplays, and as my screenwriting career started to take off, I set myself a new challenge: to write a novel.
I’d grown up with my head in books, escaping into the worlds of Tom Clancy, Thomas Harris, JRR Tolkien, Michael Crichton, Stephen King, David Eddings, Anne Rice, James Patterson, Chester Himes, Alexander Dumas, Emily Bronte, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, John Wyndham, Nevil Shute, Harper Lee, James Herbert and so many others.
They were and still are my literary heroes and as a youngster I simply couldn’t fathom how they built entire universes from nothing. I was in awe. Daunted. Afraid. And I don’t like being afraid, so I forced myself to complete the challenge in a month. The result, Battalion, is about as rough and raw a novel as you’ll get, but I’d done it and the sense of achievement was better than any bonus cheque or holiday.
My second novel, Out of Reach, was another rapidly met challenge and gave me similar satisfaction, but it wasn’t until I started preparing Pendulum that I relaxed into the role of an author. I no longer had to prove I could write a book, I had to write one well. So I took my time and focused on crafting a crime thriller that I hope says something about how the world has changed.
Why crime? Well, given my influences, I was always going to write crime. The mystery, the adventure, the triumph of good over evil have all appealed to me for as long as I can remember. And getting to know the crime community has been an absolute pleasure. It’s clear that crime writers and fans are among some of the nicest people around, a lovely bunch who obviously leave any darkness on the page.
Crime isn’t just great reading, it’s a fantastic genre for exploring the world. Whether it’s the nature of friendship and the harm we can allow into our lives, which Jenny Blackhurst tackles in Before I Let You In, or an issue (no spoilers!) as tragic and moving as the one Kate Rhodes deals with in Blood Symmetry, crime novels can make us see the world differently, concealing that new perspective within the entertainment of a page-turner.
Now that life isn’t a manic, hand-to-mouth struggle for survival, I’ve come to enjoy other aspects of writing. The research that introduces one to interesting new people and obscure fields, the fun of collaborating with my editor to shape my novels, and the tremendous privilege of being paid to dream up new worlds.
Most of all, I love the idea that I’m now offering readers the same enjoyment so many authors have given me. The adventure, the escapism, the entertainment, and magic that takes us to another place, firing our imaginations, giving us somewhere we can forget about the cares of the world and lose ourselves in the make-believe of another life.
So, if you had the old-school patience to make it to the end of this piece, you’ll have figured out that I started writing selfishly, doing it because I had no choice, but now I write for me and anyone who chooses to pick up one of my books, and hopefully it’s an enjoyable experience for us both.