The Coming Storm by Greg Mosse | Magazine | Crime | Interviews
The Coming Storm

By Greg Mosse

Author Greg Mosse on the writing of his new thriller, The Coming Storm . . .

A thriller is a novel with a tight timeline of accelerating action that ends with the reader’s heart beating just as fast as the hero’s pulse – but that isn’t where I start.

The Coming Darkness and The Coming Storm are ninety-eight thousand words, so establishing the imaginary world is about 25k. With the rhythm of my writing, that’s probably fifteen chapters, each one of which needs to be a dramatic story in its own right. My hero, Alexandre Lamarque, explores the world of the novel through action: fighting off enemies; pursuing crucial objectives; piecing together fragments of evidence; creating a map of cause and effect, desire and fulfilment, allies and traitors.

Because The Coming Storm is a sequel, I have to walk a tightrope between saying too much for people who enjoyed The Coming Darkness and not enough for new readers. It begins with a reminder – or a revelation – that my hero, Alex, has already done something extraordinary, but evil has not been vanquished:

There were seven people present in Montparnasse cemetery, including Alexandre Lamarque, the actual ‘man who saved the world’. In theory, none of them would ever speak again of what they saw that night. The private interment was intended as a kind of full stop, the final punctuation on a life lived in service to the ideals of the French Revolution and nation: freedom, equality and community.

A life sacrificed to those ideals, in a sense.

After those first fifteen-or-so chapters, something will happen that re-deals the cards, that makes the reader think: ‘Oh, that’s new.’ Everything to that point has been compelling but, at the end of my set-up, the true plot emerges from all the subplots and things get more serious. In The Coming Storm, it’s a glimpse of Alex’s ultimate enemy:

The man drove his electric wheelchair outside onto the terrace that ran round all four sides of his home, built like a citadel on a hilltop. His pale eyes narrowed as he looked out across the rugged land towards the bright and apparently limitless ocean, a white sunrise through cloud.

Was it a problem to be so far from the epicentre of the action?

No, not if the one in whom he had placed his greatest trust proved worthy.

You’ll notice that Alex’s enemy has an ally, the person he hopes will prove ‘worthy’. From this point on, the reader will be trying to work out who that ally is – maybe someone that Alex mistakenly trusts.

The middle of the book is all about drilling down further into character and desire, exploring hidden motivations, identifying unexpected treachery and unanticipated allies. There will be misunderstandings, but they won’t be tricks played on the reader. They will be rational deductions that, once more facts come to light, are shown to be false. Each time this happens, the hero has to re-assess what they think they know.

Two-thirds or three-quarters of the way through, at around seventy or seventy-five thousand words, there’s another transition. It’s a moment in the writing where, if I add anything new, it will no longer feel like increase – it will feel like dilution:

‘We will go via the Hôtel Etoile for your luggage,’ said Castile.

‘You didn’t need me here, then?’ Alex asked. ‘Not really.’

‘Oh, but I do,’ Castile replied, twisting his ring. ‘I want to offer you a job.’

‘I have a job.’

‘An escape route, then.’

‘From what to where?’

‘From the present into the future,’ said Castile.

In the last part of the novel – the crescendo and climax, where everything gets louder and faster – the action narrows down to a single sequence of accelerating events that answers all the important narrative questions: lives are saved or lost; every important surviving character fights for their own personal objectives, each one of them believing that they are the hero. Not one of them can walk away. They – and Alex, of course – have too much at stake and they remain implicated right up until the last few pages.

Don’t we all believe ourselves to be the heroes of our own lives? In The Coming Storm, close to the end of the book, Alex remembers something an ally – or perhaps an enemy – once told him:

You have two lives. You know that? One lived in ignorance, up until the point you realise you will only live once. Then everything changes and your second life begins – with no time to waste.

That’s my goal, for the novel to feel, on every page, that ‘there’s no time to waste’. And, because The Coming Storm will be followed by the third volume in the trilogy – that I’ve already written – there are four or five apparently minor aspects of the plot that will only come to fruition in The Coming Fire …

(c) Greg Mosse

About The Coming Storm by Greg Mosse:

The Coming Storm

The hotly-anticipated sequel to 2022 Sunday Times Thriller of the Year The Coming Darknesssees the return of hero Alexandre Lamarque.

He may have prevented the world from falling into ruin, but Alex knows his work is not done yet.

There’s still a controlling intelligence out there, pulling together the strands of a new and even more destructive conspiracy.

Battling with personal tragedy on one hand, and the intrusion of new-found celebrity on the other, Alex must re-emerge from self-imposed exile to reunite with Mariam – the woman he loves – and Amaury – his truest friend – to face the fight of their lives.

From the streets of Paris, the lithium mines of southern Mali, and the mighty Aswan Dam, they come up against forces whose intentions are as devious as they are malign. Time is against them, and there’s more at stake than ever.

The Coming Storm by Greg Mosse is published on 25th April, £9.99 by Moonflower Books. Available online here.

About the author

Greg Mosse is a ‘writer and encourager of writers’, husband of international bestselling author, Kate Mosse. He has lived and worked in Paris, New York, Los Angeles and Madrid as an interpreter and translator, but grew up in rural south-west Sussex. In 2014, he founded the Criterion New Writing playwriting programme in the heart of the West End and, since then, has produced more than 25 of his own plays and musicals. His creative writing workshops are highly sought after at festivals at home and abroad. His superbly reviewed novel, The Coming Darkness, was published by Moonflower in 2022.

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