Hello everybody and welcome to my blog!
It’s called ‘petercooperstellingtales’ because it will deal with aspects of my own writing but it will also be about the writers and the ideas that I find ‘telling’ or meaningful. I hope you will join in with your own comments and insights and tell me where I am going wrong!
The starting point for this blog (inevitably) is the publication of my own novel, ‘Inspector Bucket and the Beast’ due to be published at the end of September by Dahlia Publishing. http://dahliapublishing.co.uk/
But who ( I hear you ask) is this Inspector Bucket?
Anyone who has read Bleak House (1853) by Charles Dickens will know him from that novel: an enigmatic policeman who appears and disappears seemingly without warning, often in disguise, and with a manner that seems to uncover the guilt of his opponents with a word or a look. He is one of the earliest detectives in fiction, alongside Edgar Allan Poe’s Auguste C. Dupin (The Murders in the Rue Morgue, 1841) and Wilkie Collins’ Sergeant Cuff (The Moonstone, 1868).
Actually, Dickens based Bucket on a real policeman, Charles Field, with whom Dickens would often tour the streets of London and its underworld dives, and where he doubtless learned more about the lives of the poor and the homeless. In Inspector Bucket and the Beast I have my narrator, Jakesbere, being taken on just such a ‘trawl’ by Bucket himself. In my depiction of the Inspector, I have amalgamated several of the features of the ‘real’ and the fictional Bucket. Charles Field, for example, retired from the police force in the mid 1850s and started his own private inquiry bureau, as I have his fictional counterpart doing. I hope that I have been able to add some new features to the character of Bucket too, by giving him a family, for instance, and furnishing a backstory to his wearing of a ‘mourning ring’.
I have taken up Bucket’s tale several years after the events that Dickens describes in Bleak House, in 1851, when I have Inspector Bucket hunting down a child killer known as ‘The Beast’. As with Jack the Ripper, who operated in the 1880s around the Whitechapel area of London, there is doubt about the actual identity of the Beast. I have the newspapers arguing over whether ‘The Beast’ might be a low-life villain or even a Lord of the Realm, for he appears throughout the novel in several different guises.
Whilst the search for ‘The Beast’ is the driving force of the novel, I have attempted to depict some of the social issues of the time; for example, the book deals with aspects of child prostitution as well as the notorious practice of ‘baby farming’.
The backdrop to the novel is the Great Exhibition of 1851 and London itself, in all its squalor and excitement.
I hope to explore some of this background and the social issues I have mentioned above in subsequent blogs, so please keep reading!
Meanwhile, if you would like to dip into a story or two about Inspector Bucket, you can find a couple of gentle tales in the latest two issues of What the Dickens? magazine at http://wtd-magazine.com, namely Inspector Bucket and the March Hare and Inspector Bucket and the Olympics (yes!) in Issues 3 and 4 respectively. Oh, and watch out for Inspector Bucket takes the Train, due to be published by Arachne Press in the Stations anthology in November this year (http://arachnepress.com).