Whoop Whoop!! It’s my turn on the Carpenter Road #BlogBlitz and I have got a post for you!! N.M Brown is talking about the origins of his lead character Leighton Jones.
Big thanks to the wonderful Sarah Hardy of Bloodhound Books for inviting me to join the blog blitz…so lets get this show on the (Carpenter) road….
When a young woman swaps coats with a prostitute then vanishes, it marks the start of a mystifying case for Leighton Jones.
After traffic officer Leighton is called to an altercation in a used car lot he is confronted by a prostitute rambling on about a girl who stole her coat. He thinks nothing off it. That is until the body of a Jane Doe shows up, matching the prostitute’s description.
What is the link between the fight in the car lot and the dead woman?
Leighton proceeds to gather evidence, which he attempts to pass onto the lead Homicide detective, Slater. However, Slater tells Leighton to back off, and that a suspect has been arrested.
Fearing there is more to the case than he first thought, Leighton is driven to keep digging and soon ends up on the trail of a serial killer.
But Leighton might be out of his depth this time…
Guest Post – Where did the character Leighton Jones come from?
As a crime fiction fan, I have encountered my fair share of flawed heroes hunting down murderous fiends. Some of these characters were gruff, whisky soaked detectives, filled with apparently equal disdain for perpetrators and victims alike; others were clinical experts ready with a level of observation that would shame Sherlock. But, over the years, I have found myself increasingly drawn to characters who are simply decent people were trying to the right thing in a difficult world, sometimes with little or no authority. I suppose this reflects the gradual realisation that that the heroes of the real world are most often just ordinarily women and men, facing down frightening challenges with quiet dignity.
I therefore wanted to create just such a character. Somebody that was not necessarily the best person for the job, but a character who was loyal, good-humoured and dependable.
And so Leighton Jones was born – a detective with no real appetite for danger or adventure, but with a fundamental desire to help those in trouble. He would rather get through the day safely, and hopefully make it home to his comfortable little home. But when danger comes, he will do whatever it takes. In that respect, he is more Alfred than Bruce Wayne, more Morgan Freeman than Brad Pitt, and more Watson than Holmes.
Yet Leighton still has his own personal challenges. Like many of us, he feels he is not the parent he knows his kid deserves. However, despite this, he still struggles to find the best way forward. He is also haunted by a tragic past, which often threatens to overwhelm him. In both novels, we see him struggling to cope with different types of loss. I feel that this aspect of the character gives him a degree of humanity.
I never really actively tried to flesh the character of Leighton Jones out too much. When writing The Girl on the Bus, I knew that that Leighton would listen to Delta Blues music on a cassette player in his car. The music and player were important because I wanted to define him as clearly being of a different generation to the young woman who seeks his help. Oh and I also felt that a I detective at the end of his career would be more likely to have a clean vehicle as some sort of refuge from the chaotic outside world.
Once I knew how his car looked – unnaturally tidy – I knew what Leighton’s home would be like too. Having lived alone for a long time, I suspected that he would know how to take care of himself. His home would be small and neat. Perhaps with a patch of garden where he could relax at sunset. In the kitchen, he would cook good food, letting the ritual, take his mind off or focus his mind on any particular case. He would be more likely to read than watch television.
However, in writing the new novel Carpenter Road – set ten years before The Girl on the Bus, I had to consider how a younger Leighton would speak and act. I decided that he might have worse dietary habits and may not be quite as wise as we see him later become. Despite this, he welcomes a person who is in danger into his home, and takes on a dangerous case which threatens his life as well as his job. In that regard, he remains the same old Jonesy.
Ultimately, Leighton Jones, is the kind of person we would all like to have in our lives – especially if we ever find ourselves in trouble. He is quiet, dignified and utterly dependable. In the modern world, I believe that makes him more than a little unique.
Thanks Norman for telling us about your inspiration for Leighton! And if you want to find out more about Leighton Jones and Norman’s new book Carpenter Road, you can catch up with the rest of the blog blitz at the blogs shown below!
Who Is N.M. Brown?
Norman has enjoyed writing for more than two decades. He has always believed a combination of decent fiction and good coffee provides the best way to unwind and slip out of ordinary life for a while.
Having grown up Central Scotland, he studied English at Stirling University, where he began penning poetry, drama scripts and short stories. However, his real commitment to writing resulted from spending a snowy winter attending a series of fireside writing workshops in Perth.
More recently, Norman’s love of crime fiction led him to create the weary detective Leighton Jones. Having based his debut novel – The Girl on the Bus – around this character, Norman felt so intrigued by him that he decided to give Jonesy at least two more outings. Carpenter Road is the second novel to feature this protagonist.
Aside from his family, and travelling, Norman’s other passion is cooking, which may explain why many culinary elements always seem to creep out of his kitchen and into his fiction.
You can catch with Norman in the following ways…