Birth Rights by Graeme Cumming

Birth Rights – Graeme tells the story behind the story

Two things came close together back in the early 1980s.

The first was reading a Dick Francis novel.  He introduced one of those “I never saw that coming” twists right in the middle and it sparked an idea in me for how to construct a story.

Separately, I heard what I – with the benefit of maturity and an increasingly sceptical mind – suspect was an urban myth.  Nevertheless, it prompted another idea, and the concept fit well with the Dick Francis spark.  A new story was conceived.

As seems to have happened with me, it remained in my head for many years, but I had the title (Death Duties) and the characters, a pair of mismatched crime fighters (I know, the height of originality).

When I found myself hitting a wall re-writing Carrion, I decided to work on another project for a while.  I thought it’d get the creative juices flowing again and I’d return to Carrion with momentum behind me.  So I considered the dozen or so ideas I had and started to think about my old friends Bruce Dempster and Sam Morgan.

My original plan for Death Duties was for it to be a one-off.  But, now I was thinking about Bruce and Sam, I realised I wanted more.  So, for the first time in years, I opened my brain up to think about a new story – and a broad concept for an over-arching storyline that would run through a trilogy.

Before long, I was writing Birth Rights.  It’s heavily influenced by what are referred to as “buddy movies”. You know the kind of thing. Two guys come together, they’re chalk and cheese, don’t like each other at first, generally fall out and eventually become the best of friends. They were probably more prevalent when I was a kid, but I love them and it was great fun writing a story that contained elements from old movies and TV shows. That said, Birth Rights isn’t good, clean fun.  It delves into darker worlds than those generally portrayed in the ’60s and ’70s.

The second book in the trilogy is Life Signs and both it and Death Duties have been outlined. The second draft of Birth Rights is underway right now, and an agent has already expressed interest. So don’t hold your breath, but something new is definitely on its way.