I watched the new BBC drama last night Missing, anyone see it? A child goes missing while people are distracted, in this case watching the football, and he is still missing 8 years on. Good premise, she says with a smirk, I might know a novel that uses that device. What? Not read my novel yet? But, and here’s my point, won’t be the first, won’t be the last.
I really enjoyed this and look forward to next week: good writing, good acting and I am not a huge fan of the crime series I see on the TV, although the Beeb often get it right. But the point that I am making is there are only so many themes can be explored in our literature and in our TV shows. We talk in industry about high concept, something I have talked about here before and this is one of those concepts — something universal, it has the intrigue that will appeal to the masses. Oddly this idea of missing, also used a lot in stories, seems to be a theme I have explored in different guises in at least three novels and for sure in a way in short stories although often missing in these contexts might mean something more metaphorical.
In While No One Was Watching clearly the theme is that of a child went missing, at the same time President Kennedy was assassinated, and is never found — or is she? So very much this idea of the horrors of a child missing, every parents’ nightmare, is explored. The theme being what happens when you turn your back for a second. Also explored in the current scenes with the classroom shooting in the novel. So all big themes but universal, right?
In I Am Wolf Amy is missing. But she’s a reporter, not a child and she is missing in the wilds of Alaska, possibly misadventure or maybe it’s something more. But while this drives the actions of her ex-lover who leaves his life in New York behind to come to Alaska to look for her, the premise and the theme is very different. This novel is about identity, and the feral child and Amy’s obsession with wolves a huge part of it. But I hope it also has something that has universal connection — but in a different way. Who has not wondered about walking out of their life?
Isle of Pelicans returns to a missing child, but handled in a totally different way to Eleanor Boone. Eight-year-old Tommy is gone, his mother dead, a country singer whose body is found in Golden Gate Park. But where is her son? It’s a hight profile case, one suspect, but he’s an old man and he’s dying. Enter our unwitting, ex-con Frank, affectionately known (to me anyway) as the reluctant clairvoyant who knows about the kid long before he goes missing. This one is pacey, contemporary and has a ticking clock, where is the kid? But with no real leads, only Frank and his college side-kick, and a bad case of cross wires, will he be found?
So you see how this theme of missing is used in my writing but in very different ways, I hope anyway.
I loved Gone Girl, yet to see the movie though.
These themes of lost or missing are huge and think how many times you have seen them used. But like so many other themes we return to, and this notion there are only seven basic plots — it doesn’t matter. Do it well, own it, make it unique and you have something.
And right now I have to now return to the exciting climactic scenes in Isle of Pelicans to see if they find Tommy …
Have a great day! Don’t get wet! Unless you want to!
And good luck to my old writing group in Bangor who celebrate with a showcase of readings tonight — so if you’re in the area, do go along! Wish I could be there!