A Word to the Wise
Sutton Mills is an invention borne of necessity.
You see, I wanted to write crime fiction. But I did not have the background necessary to support such a career. I was neither a hard bitten Detective, a Policeman, a Medical Examiner or a Private Investigator. In truth, I wasn't even a writer; at least, no one with any authority had confirmed me as such. It hardly seemed fair, to anyone willing to purchase my work, to be writing about something of which I knew nothing, or had little to no experience of.
And so Sutton Mills came into being.
He likes Art. He knows Bristol. He is enigmatic, unorthodox, stubborn and lives off the grid. I could write about that. As he was not a Policeman or a Private Detective, I felt I could write about him without feeling I was cheating the public of something. So the novels of Sutton Mills are a product of those limitations - my limitations. But they have also made the character his own animal.
This page - and the pages attached to it - play host to the scribbled notes, drawings and photos I compiled whilst researching each episode in the series. I generally only write about places that I have actually visited; I don't think it's fair to the reader to write about a place you haven't seen - and experienced - with your own senses (although in truth sometimes this is impractical, but I do try to stick to this rule as often as possible). These photographs (with links) show some of the very real locations that feature in Sutton's novels. Right from the beginning, I wanted Sutton to play out his adventures on the real streets of Bristol. I wanted him to wait under real awnings to avoid the rain; wanted him to enter real buildings, some of which have existed - relatively unchanged - for hundreds of years; wanted him to run across real roads as he pursued his suspects. So to that end I made my own journeys around Bristol, taking photographs, making notes, collecting leaflets and trivia and other miscellaneous gems about the city, all so that they would be ready to play their part as Sutton moved through that landscape. I paced out sequences and did my best to make what happened to Sutton – what Sutton endured – correspond to the real world. Ironically, this methodical approach meant that the city’s skyline changed in the time it took to commit the novel to paper, and some buildings that feature in Tattoo no longer exist.
Sometimes, while figuring out certain characters, I've been known to do a little drawing. This helps cement them in my mind. These may only be conceptual, but with deciding to include some of these in the first novel, I knew I would have to render them more professionally. Some of these are included below. Some other designs are included on the Tattoo page.
Anyway. I was always told that extra marks would be given if you showed your workings out. So here are some of them.
Finally, a few points about the novels themselves:
To tie them all together, and to make them instantly recognisable as a Sutton Mills' adventure amongst my own fiction, I included something to do with Art in the title of each novel.
Each novel is a separate story - you don't have to read them in order - but they exist in a linear sense in their own world.