The Irresistible Summons: Deleted Scenes

In the process of writing and rewriting my latest horror/supernatural conspiracy thriller novel The Irresistible Summons I cut or rewrote a substantial amount of material from draft to draft.

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The initial draft weighed it at around 109,000 words, with the final version pared down to just over 93,000. The polishing of this novel proved a particularly interesting process this time, in that whilst the mechanics of the main plot didn’t change, key scenes, subplots, and sometimes entire characters were removed. The epilogue was also entirely rewritten. Here’s a brief rundown on some of the more interesting elements of what was cut or changed (I shall skirt around spoilers).

Naomi’s ex-fiancee – During the opening act, after the disastrous prison interview but before Naomi’s visit to her parents and her brother, we are introduced to Naomi’s depressed alcoholic ex-fiancee Richard. He features in two chapters where he turns up in her flat, attempts to commit suicide, and is saved at the last moment by an apparently supernatural premonition. This spooky incident is subsequently linked to what is going on in the top secret Persephone corporation experiments. It also turns out Richard’s mother Hilary has links to the coven which comes into the story later on.

Originally I wanted the character of Richard to suggest that Naomi had a compassionate side that was drawn to “broken” people that she thought she could fix. However, this compassion was a mask for her own grief resulting from losing her teenage lover Toby, whom she couldn’t “fix”. In the end, I decided this character development was unnecessary so deleted Richard, Hilary, and the entire subplot.

Murders in Persephone – I have to skirt around spoilers a bit here, but there are certain characters that come to a sticky end that did so much earlier in the story, precipitating murder investigations that complicated the main plot. In the end, I felt the police aspect of the story cluttered the narrative, so I removed these murders, and instead restricted police involvement to the first mysterious disappearance.

The Left Luggage Official – This funny scene I was very reluctant to delete, since it was inspired by something that once happened to me in Paddington station. Naomi loses a vital piece of luggage on her return from the West Country, which is important to the plot. In the finished version of the novel, the interactions with the left luggage official are brief and to the point. However, in earlier drafts, a lengthy comic sequence ensued, in which Naomi gets into a hair-clutching, Basil Fawlty-esque argument with an imbecilic, those-are-the-rules, officious jobsworth. Although amusing, the scene belongs in a much more comedic narrative, and not in this novel.

The Dove Society – In earlier drafts, those from Persephone investigating the mysterious disappearances and apparitions have formed themselves into a secret society of sorts. They use a few peculiar “dove” gestures to greet one another, which a baffled Naomi witnesses. Eventually I decided these people didn’t need to be in a secret society. They just needed to be concerned individuals with a shared goal, and there was no need for superfluous mystery where plenty already existed.

The Finale – I have to be careful what I reveal here, but in earlier drafts, the finale involved a great deal more detailed explanations that screamed “Look, I’ve done my research”, along with more getting lost in dark tunnels and corridors, and generally gruesome mayhem. Even full-on thrills and scares can get a bit tiresome and repetitive, plus I didn’t want to overwhelm the reader with my research credentials, so I eventually cut these chapters down a great deal.

The Epilogue – On reflection, the epilogue in earlier drafts was absurdly optimistic, and tonally felt like it belonged more in a romantic novel. For the final version, this was replaced entirely, closing on a much more melancholy note that brought the novel full circle.

The Irresistible Summons is published by Dragon Soul Press, and is out now. Paperbacks or Kindle downloads can be ordered here (in the UK) and here (in the US).

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The Irresistible Summons: Settings and Research

Simon Dillon - Irresistible Summons full resWhilst writing my latest supernatural horror/conspiracy thriller novel The Irresistible Summons, I researched a number of paranormal, religious, and scientific subjects, as well as locations that were crucial to the narrative. However, in this article I’m going to skirt around some of what I delved into, for fear of spoilers.

One of the primary reasons I wrote the novel was because I wanted a haunted house story that wasn’t set in a traditional gothic house, but instead in a modern office building. The seeds of this idea came as far back as my university days. One particular building where I attended lectures had been designed in such a way that when lights were mostly switched off, the lobby, corridors, and staircases looked very sinister indeed. I even partially shot my dissertation film – a vampire short – in that building. The late, great Ken Russell himself saw a rough cut of the film, and rather liked it. But I am digressing (and showing off)…

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When it came to write this novel, setting it in London became a no-brainer, because I wanted the climax of the film to take place in the labyrinth of abandoned and disused London underground railway tunnels. I often joke that the only thing I need to write a good story is an imperilled heroine and a sinister labyrinth. To that end, The Irresistible Summons features a haunted office block on Canary Wharf, where a software company and various other businesses are based. Underneath this building are secret lower levels where nefarious top secret experiments are taking place, which in turn connect with the passages that lead into the old railway tunnels, and even darker ancient secrets.

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It’s not all set in the city. Some locations in the south-west are important to the story too, especially Wistman’s Wood on Dartmoor. This ancient and atmospheric forest of stunted dwarf oaks has now featured in several of my novels, and one short story. However, this novel features, in my view, my most vivid, memorable, and emotionally resonant use of the location.

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As to the scientific fields I researched for the novel, I must remain tight-lipped so as not to spoil the surprise, but let me just say that one major theme of the story is far less outlandish than it sounds. Indeed, experiments and research into this particular field are being conducted and have advanced to an alarming degree. That’s all I’ll say, in the hope that it arouses curiosity about the novel.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the main protagonist in the novel, Naomi Levinson, is from a messianic Jewish background (although she is certainly what you might call “lapsed”). A minority religious group often derided by both Christians and Orthodox Jewish communities (especially in the Middle East), this proved an interesting subject to delve into, as I personally know a number of people in these groups. I used my own background in television as a knowledge base for the characters involved in documentary productions, but other obscure subjects touched on in the novel required more detailed research (Kabbalah exorcism, for instance).

In short, as ever, the research process for this novel proved fascinating and illuminating.

The Irresistible Summons is published by Dragon Soul Press, and is out now. Paperbacks or Kindle downloads can be ordered here (in the UK) and here (in the US).

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The Irresistible Summons: Influences and Inspirations

Which books and films influenced The Irresistible Summons?

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Here are five key texts that informed the telling of my latest ghostly mystery novel.

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Pet Sematary – Stephen King’s bleakest novel is also concerned with how far people are prepared to go to bring back their loved ones from the dead, regardless of the cost. His novel is very different to mine, but the themes – desperately grieving individuals who lose sight of reality in the pursuit of their macabre goals – definitely share DNA with my story.

indexFatherlandThe Irresistible Summons isn’t just a modern gothic horror but also a conspiracy thriller. In fact, I’d argue the tone throughout is more conspiracy thriller than horror. For that reason, I’ve included this novel, by Robert Harris, in my list of influential stories. The plot – set in a parallel universe where the Nazis won the war – has no bearing whatsoever on my novel. However, the tone of investigation into a gradually uncovered conspiracy was certainly something I strove to emulate in my telling.

220px-Robin_Cook_-_ComaComa – Both Robin Cook’s novel and Michael Crichton’s film adaptation are key inspirations. The premise – a possible conspiracy in a Boston hospital whereby patients are being deliberately placed in irreplaceable comas – is a masterclass in escalating unease and paranoia, building to full blown suspense set pieces that are pure modern gothic. The film in particular is terrific, with Genevieve Bujold making a fantastic imperilled heroine. Michael Douglas is also good as her is-he-or-isn’t-he-in-on-it boyfriend. A real nail-biter, and a major tonal influence on my work (not just this novel either).

51PC4TRP1VL._SY445_Riget (The Kingdom) – This Danish TV miniseries, partly directed by Lars Von Trier, was edited together for an epic cinema release in the UK, which I caught sometime in the mid-1990s. I’ve never forgotten it. Think Casualty/ER meets Ghostbusters/The Exorcist, with a healthy dose of Twin Peaks thrown into the mix. Quirky, mysterious, funny and frightening, I cite this as an influence mainly for the notorious segment where a woman’s pregnancy is gradually revealed to have a disturbingly supernatural origin.

MV5BMjA5NzQ1NTgwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjUxMzUzMw@@._V1_The Descent – This brilliant Neil Marshall directed horror film, about a bereaved woman and her friends discovering more than they bargained for on a pot-holing expedition, was considered so disturbing that the ending was actually censored in the US, ending a few minutes before the version we see in the UK, and thus blunting the true horror of what has occurred. Said censored ending was certainly a key influence on one moment during the finale of my story.

The Irresistible Summons is published by Dragon Soul Press, and is out now. Paperbacks or Kindle downloads are available here (in the UK) and here (in the US).

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Three of my “Drabbles” have been accepted for the Curses and Cauldrons anthology from Blood Song Books!

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I recently had three “Drabbles” – micro-fiction tales of exactly 100 words – accepted for Blood Song Books’s Curses & Cauldrons anthology, edited by Zoey Xolton. My three witch related tales are entitled The Burning, Losing my Religion, and More Than She Bargained For.

Quite honestly I found writing Drabbles a fiendishly difficult challenge. Sticking to exactly one hundred words is horribly tricky, and a discipline in making every word count. I am much more comfortable working in short stories or novels, but nonetheless it was a very interesting writing experiment.

My three tiny tales are very much in keeping with themes and sensibilities inherent in much of my longer fiction, but to find out more about exactly what I’ve written, you’ll have to order a copy of the anthology.

Curses & Cauldron is available for pre-order here: www.books2read.com/Curses

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Recent Interviews with yours truly 3 – The Tangent Tree

Here is the third of a recent batch of interviews given around the subject of my newly released modern gothic mystery/supernatural conspiracy thriller novel The Irresistible Summons. This time, the interview was conducted by Samantha Stephen, as a spin-off mini-episode of our film podcast The Tangent Tree. She asks some very thoughtful questions, including why the protagonists in my thriller/horror stories tend to be female. Listen on Spotify, Podcast Addict, or iTunes, or simply click here.

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The Irresistible Summons is out now on Kindle or in paperback. Click here (for the UK) and here (for the US).

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Recent Interviews with yours truly 2 – Dragon Soul Press

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In the second of my recent interviews promoting my newly released novel The Irresistible Summons, I spoke with my publisher, Dragon Soul Press, about various things, including the writing process, avoiding predictability when working within genre formulas, what books make me cry, and my “writing kryptonite”. Click here to read the full interview.

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Recent Interviews with yours truly 1 – Galina Trefil

Over the next three days, I’ll be posting links to recent interviews conducted with me about my writing. These are mostly about my new novel The Irresistible Summons, but in this case, the interview was conducted by the excellent Galina Trefil, regarding my short story Papercut, written for romantic fantasy anthology First Love.

Galina asks incisive questions about fascinating subjects including literary symbolism, religious cults, loss of faith, and dream interpretation. I have to be honest and admit I was a lot more forthcoming about one or two rather personal subjects than usual. Check out the interview here.

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The Irresistible Summons – Out Now!

It’s finally here! My new novel The Irresistible Summons is officially released today! Check it out here (in the UK) and here (in the US).

Also, don’t forget you are invited to the Facebook release party for this book, today at 5pm UK time to 9pm UK time (12pm to 4pm East Coast time). Just click here at the appropriate time to join in the fun, games, giveaways, and so on.

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I will be hosting between 8:00pm and 8:30pm UK time (3:00pm – 3:30pm East Coast time), but my publisher, Dragon Soul Press, has cunningly invited other talented authors to co-host as well, at different times, including Zoey Xolton, Galina Trefil, Stephen Herczeg, Kevin J Kennedy, Anna Sinjin, and Charles Reis.

Here’s the blurb from the back of The Irresistible Summons:

The nail-biting new novel from the author of Spectre of Springwell Forest

Television producer Naomi Levinson makes documentaries debunking the supernatural.

When asked to film a promotional video for computer game company Persephone, she considers the task beneath her talents. But as production gets underway at the Persephone office block on London’s Canary Wharf, a mysterious disappearance, ghostly sightings, and lingering tragedy from Naomi’s past lead her to believe she might have stumbled into a genuine haunting.

As Naomi continues to investigate, past and present collide in a horrifying conspiracy. Cutting edge technology and ancient evil meet, leading to the discovery of a shocking and terrifying secret that could change the nature of life and death as we know it.

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The Irresistible Summons – Out Tomorrow!

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My new novel The Irresistible Summons – my second to be published by Dragon Soul Press – is officially released tomorrow.

Supernatural conspiracy thriller. Horror mystery. Modern gothic ghost story. These are all genre terms that apply to The Irresistible Summons. If you love a gripping, page-turning, suspenseful, spine-tingling nail-biter, why not give it a go?

Paperbacks are already out, and Kindle downloads can be pre-ordered. Check it out here (in the UK) and here (in the US).

Here’s the blurb from the back of The Irresistible Summons:

The nail-biting new novel from the author of Spectre of Springwell Forest

Television producer Naomi Levinson makes documentaries debunking the supernatural.

When asked to film a promotional video for computer game company Persephone, she considers the task beneath her talents. But as production gets underway at the Persephone office block on London’s Canary Wharf, a mysterious disappearance, ghostly sightings, and lingering tragedy from Naomi’s past lead her to believe she might have stumbled into a genuine haunting.

As Naomi continues to investigate, past and present collide in a horrifying conspiracy. Cutting edge technology and ancient evil meet, leading to the discovery of a shocking and terrifying secret that could change the nature of life and death as we know it.

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The Irresistible Summons – out this week!

Simon Dillon - Irresistible Summons full resMy new novel The Irresistible Summons is out this week! 27th July is the official release, although paperbacks are already available. Kindle versions can be pre-ordered here (in the UK) and here (in the US). The Irresistible Summons is published by Dragon Soul Press.

Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

How far would you go to bring the one you love back from the dead?

Television producer Naomi Levinson makes documentaries debunking the supernatural.

When asked to film a promotional video for computer game company Persephone, she considers the task beneath her talents. But as production gets underway at the Persephone office block on London’s Canary Wharf, a mysterious disappearance, ghostly sightings, and lingering tragedy from Naomi’s past lead her to believe she might have stumbled into a genuine haunting.

As Naomi continues to investigate, past and present collide in a horrifying conspiracy. Cutting edge technology and ancient evil meet, leading to the discovery of a shocking and terrifying secret that could change the nature of life and death as we know it.

A nail-biting supernatural mystery, The Irresistible Summons is a page-turning must for anyone who loves a good modern-gothic thriller.

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