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A Sense of Place: Alex Caan on ‘Cut to the Bone’

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Article by Alex Caan ©.
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Cut to the Bone is set primarily in London, which is always a risky move for any writer. On the one hand it is a city with limitless possibilities: literally any story you want to tell can be told within its’ boundaries. There are people from all around the world here, bringing with them their histories and own personal paradigms, seeing the city through a fractured and personal mirror. You have the biggest class divide that probably exists in anywhere in the UK, and it fascinates me how the swankiest postcodes and prime locations are populated by million pound apartments and social housing for those at the opposite end of the scale. There is wealth and poverty jostling against the muddy Thames, but there is also power. Not just the leaders of this nation, but also those that live in their bubble. The campaigners, the lobbyists, the industrialists who want their favours. Not to mention the countless embassies, bringing with them a sense of intrigue and their own clandestine security personnel.

London is big enough to encompass the worst of international crime and conspiracy, and small enough to tell a more intimate and dramatic murder mystery. There was nowhere else that Cut to the Bone could have been set.

Against the backdrop of endless ideas, is the greatest obstacle to using a place like London (which probably applies to Edinburgh and Dublin just as much): its allure has meant that the city has been covered and used by authors in their thousands over the centuries. When every aspect of a place has been so well described already, how do you make it fresh and exciting?

Writing Cut to the Bone for me was a bit like writing a love letter to the city. Albeit a creepy, dark one, that shows some of its less salubrious areas and characters, across the spectrum. And that’s the only way to write about a place like London. You need to infuse it with your own experiences, and bring to the forefront what you think about it. I didn’t want to try to write the city that people know and are familiar with, it’s important to write your own version of it, your own corner. And don’t try to stuff it with familiar locations just for the sake of it. I use the British Museum in my novel, yet I used an entrance not familiar to many people – I once walked past it after a late session at the University library years ago,  and I thought it was a great location for a clandestine meeting right in the heart of London. I finally got to use it! Cut to the Bone  is also populated with places I’ve lived or visited, and it’s very much my take on them, which means I can write about  well trodden places with fresh eyes.

If you’re just starting out, don’t feel the pressure to write about a place in a way that others expect. Write about the place as you felt it, and you loved it. But write about it honestly, in all its’ horror and glory.

(c) Alex Caan

About Cut to the Bone

For fans of THE FALL and Sarah Hilary, this slick, dark contemporary thriller will have you on the edge of your seat...

Ruby is a vlogger, a rising star of YouTube and a heroine to millions of teenage girls. And she’s missing. She’s an adult – nothing to worry about, surely? Until the video’s uploaded. Ruby, in the dirt and pleading for her life.

Who better to head up the investigation than the Met’s rising star, Detective Inspector Kate Riley? She’s leading a shiny new team, high-powered, mostly female and with the best resources money can buy. It’s time for them to prove what they can do. Alongside her, Detective Sergeant Zain Harris – poster boy for multiracial policing and the team’s newest member – has his own unique contribution to make. But can Kate wholly trust him and when he’s around, can she trust herself?

Ruby’s millions of fans are hysterical about what may have happened to her. The press is having a field day and as the investigation hurtles out of control in the glare of publicity, it becomes clear that the world of YouTube vloggers and social media is much, much darker than anyone could have imagined in their worst nightmares.

And the videos keep coming . . .

Pick up your copy of Cut to the Bone here!