Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Significant Deaths...with Jasen Quick




My guest today is Jasen Quick, author of the riveting and highly unusual story, The Significant Deaths of Cage and Constance. Here's the blurb:
  
"Cage Reynolds wanted to die.

Having survived two world wars, the death of his wife, and innumerable suicide attempts, Cage is lonely and depressed. He has a secret, one that defies modern science, and his life is not as it seems. He's 169 years old, and he cannot die.

On the day that he is pushed in front of a bus by a mysterious man, Cage meets Clementine, a lively young woman who knows more about Cage than she is letting on. She works for Constance Sullivan, a wealthy businesswoman who trades in antiquities. When Cage is lured into Constance's world, he sees something that even he can hardly believe--something that changes his life forever."

I asked Jasen to talk about the inspiration for this story - and the answer was almost as extraordinary as the story itself:

 

Sitting in the classroom, doing the evening shift at the adult education centre, my mind wandered and I found myself staring out the window. I only had two students that night, so I wasn’t overburdened with things to do. As a bus passed by, I found myself wondering what it would be like to be hit by a bus and survive, unharmed.

I started writing down what I thought it might feel like and this eventually became the inspiration for The Significant Deaths of Cage and Constance. In the first draft, Cage Reynolds kills himself in many different ways, knowing he cannot die. Jumping in front of a bus was the first and I also wrote chapters in which he jumped off a cliff, shot himself with a Colt Peacemaker, crashed a Cessna aircraft, drowned, was hit by a train, hanged and guillotined.

In a subsequent draft, I introduced the cadavers and realised that a man who kills himself knowing someone else will die is quite selfish, so the suicides became attempts on his life. To make these attempts, I introduced the character of Marcus.

Of all the deaths, I spent the most time researching the bus and I created a file in which I pasted details of bus sizes, lengths and specifications. If he was hit by an Optare Excel, he would be dragged along the road because the bus was designed to be low enough for disabled people to get on and off easily. There would not be enough room to lie underneath the bus and have it drive over. The speed at which buses travel was taken into account and the rate at which they slow down at bus stops. It would be no good to be hit and just bounce onto the floor.

Since the novel is set primarily in Salisbury, I needed to know which buses might be found in the city. At the time, the Wilts & Dorset bus company used Optare Excel 2 buses, which were longer.

 
In the final draft, Marcus pushes Cage in front of the bus in Salisbury:

My face and left knee are the first to make contact. My nose hits the low windscreen, and the force jolts my head back. My fingertips grip the windscreen wiper blade, which I pull off as I am thrown backwards into the road. A fraction of a second later and the bus is looming over me like the school bully who is about to stomp on my face. My right foot goes under the nearside wheel, and I am quickly pulled under the bus. My head and shoulders drag along the road, and my left leg rises into the air, hitting the underside of the bus and making a loud thud. The nearside wheel rolls up my leg, pinning me to the road as the bus drives over me, scraping my coat off my back and twisting my shirt. The wheel rolls across my stomach and over my chest, heading for my throat. I turn my head away from the wheel and press my left hand against the axle as the bus rolls off my left shoulder.

At this point, Cage should die. However, he finds himself lying on the pavement on the opposite side of the road and an unidentified cadaver lies in his place under the bus.

I did a lot of research for The Significant Deaths of Cage and Constance, which I felt was necessary to make the subject believable. By contrast, I have just finished my second novel, which has required almost no research.

Salisbury, Wiltshire
 Thank you for sharing this with us, Jasen. I am endlessly fascinated to learn where writers have gained the inspiration for their stories. So often it begins with a tiny, seemingly random, thought which then links with another and another until a whole complex fabric is weaved and a story is born. Yours is just such an example.

The Significant Deaths of Cage and Constance is available in paperback and ebook from:
 and most other online booksellers
You can connect with Jasen here:


 

9 comments:

  1. Great post idea as always Cat. Jasen - fabulous. What a unusual book. Really and truly fascinating. I have to get me mitts on a copy now. Oh, Salisbury looks nice too.

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  2. It sounds like you did some great research. I love the fact that one simple fleeting thought gave you the idea that blossomed into quite a paranormal mystery.

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  3. Wow Jasen this is very interesting. It's amazing where inspiration strikes. You just sat there and looked out the window and it came to you. Sounds like a great story!

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  4. Thanks for your comments everyone. I found Jasen's train of thought here fascinating and, yes Shehanne, Salisbury is a beautiful, historic city. I never get tired of going there.

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  5. I've always had a soft spot for a character who gets thrown under a bus never mind about one who lives to tell. Every retelling of the character who can't die is a curse that draws us in. Is it worse to die to young or outlive all you love?

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  6. You're right. That's the conundrum, Susan, and I don't know the answer

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  7. Jasen. Congrats on doing the research to make your story believable. The premise and bus scene were interesting!

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  8. This sounds so cool! What a fascinating premise, and what amazing research.

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  9. Thank you for your comments! I think I spent more time researching the book than writing it. I spent six weeks reading about Jack the Ripper; research which ended up being used in just three chapters. I used the name "Alfred" for JtR based on that research. Alfred was a real person, which is why I never mention his surname.

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