A very in depth and fascinating guest post from author Chris Parker about why his story Faith needed to be told.
After the terrifying events of Belief, Ethan Hall has been charged with multiple homicides. His trial is about to begin – will it bring closure for Marcus Kline and those he loves? Ethan has been in solitary confinement in the medical wing of a prison for several months. However officers still have to interact with him and he has hypnotised two of them to kill ex-offenders. He has also chosen to defend himself in court. Surely justice will prevail?
Faith is Chris Parker’s thrilling final book in the Marcus Kline trilogy. Can Marcus Kline ultimately triumph over his deadly nemesis?
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The final book in the Marcus Kline trilogy
Marcus Kline’s story began with Influence moved on through Belief and ended, as everyone’s story does, with Faith. It has been 5 years in the making and telling. Now it is over I’m left with only the questions I began with. They are:
- Who is the story about?
- What is the story about?
- Why does it need telling?
- Where and when does it take place?
Originally these questions acted as prompts for planning; now they serve as cues for reflection. In this short piece I’m going to consider question no.3:
Why does it need telling?
Truthfully, I think this is the most difficult of all the questions to answer. Why is it so challenging? Because it’s a question about motive, and it’s so very easy to trick ourselves about our reasons for doing anything.
As an author, the easy answer is that I wrote it because my research revealed it was a story that many readers would be drawn to and become engaged in. And that would be true. I did do my research – both primary and secondary. The feedback was clear: both the story and the format were popular with readers. The Marcus Kline books are psychological thrillers. They tell the story of a brilliant, globally successful communications consultant who is targeted by an even more brilliant serial killer. They combine murder and intrigue, with good old-fashioned detective work, unusual hypnotic battles and scenes of psychological domination, an intense Crown Court trial and the inevitable challenges to personal relationships and wellbeing. There are some popular, and some unusual, elements here. Also it seems that one story told through a trilogy has reader-appeal.
The easy answer, then, is that I told this story because I write with my audience in mind and I knew that, if I told it well, the audience would enjoy it.
Actually, that’s not the easy answer – it’s just the first answer. It’s the mix of the other, equally true answers that create the complication.
Let me explain.
Faith, the final book in the trilogy, centres on the trial of Ethan Hall, master-hypnotist and serial killer. On the one hand this is a logical progression from the events in Belief. On the other hand, though, I have always wanted to write a courtroom drama. It’s a desire that has been there for as long as I can remember.
My first novel was published in 1986 and, even then, I knew that one day I would base a novel around a trial. I didn’t realise it would be 30 years later but, for me, it was well worth the wait!
You see, I’m always keen to ensure that everything that happens in my novels is factually accurate, and the six months I spent learning about Advocacy, trial procedure and the skills and attitudes of great barristers from the hugely accomplished Mike Auty QC, was a true joy.
Another example of what we might think of as “writer-selfishness” is the fact that my lead character is a specialist in communications, a great influencer, writer, speaker and hypnotist. All of the things I do for a living. (Although I do none of them as well as Marcus Kline.)
I could claim therefore that, when creating Marcus, I was following the old writer maxim of “writing what you know”, but that wasn’t my real motivation. Rather, I wanted to write about the topics I think are most important in our lives – our communication and our relationships. Beyond that, I wanted to explore what happens when a brilliant, arrogant egotist – Marcus – suddenly discovers he isn’t the best.
It is also true to say that I wrote the trilogy because I like the challenge of not-knowing. When I began writing Influence, the first in the series, I had no idea who the killer was; in one sense he literally introduced himself to me when I was more than halfway through the book.
Faith offered even more uncertainty. Although I knew from the very beginning that the trial would happen, neither Mike Auty, the real-life DCI Peter Jones nor I had any idea about how to manage Ethan Hall in a trial setting.
The problem was that, as a master-hypnotist, Ethan would inevitably choose to defend himself. How, then, do you stop him from influencing Judge and jury and witnesses as he likes – or is it just impossible to? It was a question we wrestled with for several years. (For obvious reasons, I’m not going to share our conclusions here.)
Apart from the certainty of the trial, the one other topic I knew for sure I was going to address was our ever-increasing (mis)use of social media. Whilst it is a thread throughout the trilogy, it becomes significant in Faith when a series of murders are shared on social media with the hashtag Passiton and a call for others to follow suit.
Again, this is an example of “author-selfishness”. I have long been concerned about the potential downsides of an over-use of social media; given what is, and has been, happening in the world my concerns have not gone away.
Neither has my belief in the complexity of our original question. Stories don’t exist without storytellers and audiences. Our reasons for needing to tell certain stories and to engage with them are as varied and complex as human beings themselves.
Whilst that might not be all we need to know, it is at least a starting point.
to find out the answers to the rest of the questions and see what others feel about the book then have a look at the other stops.
Based in Nottingham, Chris Parker is a specialist in Communication and Influence. A Licensed Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Chris is a highly experienced management trainer, business consultant, lecturer and writer. Books include Influence, Belief, Campaign It, Brain Always Wins, Diego Masciaga Way, The City Fox and Debris.