Big thanks to author of ‘Deadly Game’, Matt Johnson, and Orenda Books, for having me host today’s stop on the blog tour! Matt Johnson has written a really insightful guest post for us here at TWG HQ! I am super excited to share with you Matt’s thoughts on editing books and having to decide whether all parts of the storyline make the final cut or not!
A darling killed – Matt Johnson.
The editing process can be hard, especially to a new author who is not used
to it. Those words that you have almost sweated blood to produce, that you
have agonised over, changed, improved … only to find they are despatched
to the edit room floor. But that is the very nature of the editor’s role, too look
dispassionately at the content and to make recommendations on what needs
to be changed, what needs to be added, and what should be cut. Editing
helps the story move smoothly, maintains pace and keeps the book on track.
It chops the padding, removes the irrelevant red herrings and polishes up
what remains. It turns a manuscript into a book.
This is an extract from Deadly Game, one that didn’t make the cut. I liked it,
and was sad to see it go, but the editing team were right. And so, my darling
was killed. In this chapter, the central character Robert Finlay has been sent to interview
a potential witness in Gloucester. He meets an old friend, Wendy Russell,
now in charge of policing for that area. This extract, describes and event from
Wendy Russell and I had been PCs together at Albany Street and, before
that, on the same intake for the police training school at Hendon in North
London. Early days as a constable consisted of a lot of classroom work, practical
assessments and exercises. After that, every evening was spent on book
study. As an older student, I hadn’t found the book-work easy. Wendy had
been a great help. We first met, one late evening, when I’d taken a break from
the studying to grab a quick beer in the recruit bar. A young redhead had
walked up beside me and offered to buy me a drink. It was Wendy. I accepted
the offer, of course. It’s not every day that kind of thing happens.
Our first hour together was spent talking about the course, why we’d joined
the police and other, ‘get to know you’ type things. Later, Wendy explained
that she’d only spoken to me out of sympathy; she felt sorry for me, sitting on
my own at the bar. I didn’t mind, and that first drink turned out to be the start
of a long friendship. My new friend was on the graduate entry scheme. I
hadn’t heard of it. She explained that by the time I would be eligible to try for a
promotion to sergeant, she would already have made inspector. As it
transpired, her prediction proved correct. Wendy was bright, articulate, and
attractive. She was also a lot younger than me, and was already engaged to
be married to a sergeant who worked in Central London.
Our friendship was cemented one day during ‘restraint’ training. One of the PT
staff had a dislike of female recruits and a resentment of what he called the
‘Bramshill flyers’, the fast-track promotion graduates who would be heading to
the police staff college as their careers progressed. To this particular
instructor, WPCs were all a ‘plonk’ or ‘Doris’ who should have been kept
inside the police stations to make the tea and to look after women and kids.
The fact that Wendy was both female and a ‘flyer’ caused her to be the
subject of much of this man’s attention. A former NCO from one of the infantry
regiments, his uniform tunic was adorned with several medal ribbons, some of
which I recognised. It wasn’t unusual; most of the ex-services lads wore their
ribbons. Almost all had completed tours in Ireland, so the green and blue
General Service ribbon was quite commonplace. Others sported NATO
medals and the Falkland Islands ribbon.
On the day in question, Wendy had been singled out by the PT instructor to
demonstrate restraint techniques. We were to be taught how to deal with
awkward prisoners using the ‘hammerlock and bar’ hold. It was simple
enough to use, but not if you were a rather diminutive female who’s
overpowering male instructor was set on showing you up.
As the rest of the class watched, our fellow recruit was teased, humiliated
and, repeatedly dumped on the gym floor in a bedraggled mess. Wendy tried
hard, very hard, but the instructor was strong, and he was determined to
make his point about the value of WPCs. I saw a tear in Wendy’s eye as she lay on the floor following her sixth or seventh attempt to apply the hold to her tormentor. Ignoring her, the instructor ordered us to form pairs and practise amongst ourselves. I went over to
Wendy and helped her up.
‘You ok?’ I asked.
‘One day, I’m going to come back here as an inspector, then we’ll see who’s
laughing,’ she answered, bravely.
‘Why wait that long?’
I moved Wendy to the back of the gym where we would be away from the rest
of the class. The instructor, I noticed, had nipped out to do something else
while we tried to master the hold he had been teaching. I had also noticed the
way he had been tipping Wendy on her back as she tried to place him in the
hold. He relied on brute strength. He was overconfident, certain of his strength
advantage and, as a result, was badly balanced on his feet. He didn’t consider
his adversary to be a threat. That left him vulnerable to surprise.
Over the course of the next few minutes, I allowed Wendy to practise on me.
The first time, I dumped her on her back, in the very same way that had
happened to her in front of the class. She made to storm off, but I held her
‘Stop,’ I said. ‘Now, try this.’
Using a simple sweeping movement of the leg, I showed Wendy how to knock
me off balance and onto my back. By the time the instructor returned, she was
becoming quite proficient at it.
‘OK you lot,’ came the call from our leader. ‘Who’s going to show me what
For a few seconds, nobody moved. Then Wendy stepped forward. ‘Mind if I
have another try, sergeant.’ The instructor and a couple of the younger male
recruits laughed, but Wendy continued her approach. Failing to anticipate that his stooge could have improved much in the time he had been absent, our teacher adopted the same casual approach to embarrassing his challenger. It was a mistake. Wendy was quick. What she
lacked in strength, she more than made up for in speed. In a flash, the
For good measure, Wendy stood for a moment, her right foot on her victim’s
neck and her fists in the air. She looked for all the world like a victorious
gladiator awaiting a command from her audience as to whether to spare her
unfortunate opponent. Two of the women laughed and gave the ‘thumbs
down’ sign. The rest of us cheered and clapped our hands enthusiastically.
In November that year, we were both posted out to Albany Street Police
Station, near Euston, to start our two-year probationary period as uniform
PCs. I had been placed on ‘C’ relief, Wendy was put with ‘D’. Over the coming
years, she inevitably encountered a lot more of the kind of attitude shown by
that instructor, but it didn’t faze her. We kept in contact until she left the Met
several years later, having been promoted to Superintendent.
And now, here she was. As large as life, with six years under her belt in
charge of policing in Gloucester.
Thanks again to Matt for the fantastic guest post! Read on to find out more about his book, Deadly Games, and the link to buy a copy for yourself!
Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered, Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all… Picking up where the bestselling Wicked Game left off, Deadly Game sees Matt Johnson’s damaged hero fighting on two fronts. Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate.
Buy now from Amazon