If you read the first Salmonweird book at the time of release, you’ll remember the little (then) surprise at the end. It said: We will return to Salmonweird in book 2: A Salmonweird Sleighing, and book 3: Salmonweird TV.
Book 3 is now called Studio Salmonweird and is planned for release in 2022. But it’s book 2 that I want to talk about today. How did it come about? When did I get the idea for the plot, the villain, and everything else?
As this is such a fresh release, I’ve included a dedicated section at the end for people who have read the book. For everyone else, this is a spoiler section – you have been warned.
When Did the Idea Come About?
Believe it or not, I got the first idea while still writing book one. Quite early on, in fact. Book one was at least half finished when I started to get the first seed of an idea for the first sequel.
I will also fully admit to beginning the first draft – based on that seed – before book one was even finished. If I remember correctly, I also wrote chapter one of book three before the first was finished too. It was certainly written before publication of book one, and before book two was more than a couple of thousand words.
What was That “Seed”?
Like many of my ideas, A Salmonweird Sleighing started as the seed of a scene. That scene appears surprisingly early in the book – right at the start of chapter 2 in fact, and is core to the first incident that sets the tone of the book.
When Karl witnesses the first death, he looks up and sees something on the roof. That was basically the seed of my idea. I also knew who the first departure would be. Again, this was all while still writing book one.
When Did You Decide Who Would Be The Killer?
Again, early on. If anything, the killer’s identity came to me at the same moment I got the idea for Karl seeing something on the roof. But the villain is part of something much larger.
So my challenge – much like book one – was to build the story around a killer whose identity I already knew. I think, on reflection, that’s why writing A Salmonweird Sleighing wasn’t as challenging as it might otherwise have been. It was just a case of filling in the gaps.
Why Set It At Christmas?
The only real answer I have for this is “why not”? I always wanted to write a Christmas mystery and this was the perfect opportunity. The nature of the story is about some of these characters pasts as well as their futures. I think Christmas is the perfect time to explore this aspect of our lives.
The new characters associated with existing characters who appear in A Salmonweird Sleighing are very much part of their past – with perhaps one exception (Arthur Hammett who by his own admission, doesn’t know anyone in the village and keeps to himself).
I wrote the final chapter almost immediately I began working on A Salmonweird Sleighing as my primary WIP. At that point, only the first two chapters were complete. I wanted a final chapter that really represents what Christmas means for me – the very best of humanity, the community, the coming together, the joy that the sparkle of lights can bring a child and big children alike.
If you have any other questions, please add them in the comments. The next section goes into much more detail and multiple spoilers. You have been warned.
I always knew the killer would be a shapeshifting demon, it was always my intention. What I lacked was the finer details of their motivation. Thankfully, that presented itself while I was writing the book. I already had an overarching villain in the form of Afterlife PLC. The tongue in cheek “I work for revenue protection” was just the icing on the cake to provide a motive beyond “I’m a demon, it’s what I do.”
Salmonweird has always been about satire – some of it more serious than others. The satire surrounding Afterlife PLC is to represent everything we hate about big business – slogans over substance, platitudes about being part of a family, mission statements, appointing “champions” rather than doing anything practical about the problems the business faces.
The worst of the worst was always going to be the bailiffs (Repo Man to Americans) – and that essentially is what Seraphimus’ job is. Seraphimus shapeshifting antics was also going to include several other characters who neve made it, mostly for length and because I didn’t want to over-complicate the story and bring in too many more.
- Father Perren – the old priest of Salmonweir Church who appears in The Crypt
- Babajide’s brother (no name) – who ended up fostered by a wealthy family in Bristol. In the end I went with Morwenna which I was able to use more effectively
- The man who killed Eli & Jacob but I felt that might be too dark for this book and left them out
Who did Arthur See?
I never made it explicitly clear, but while writing Old Sam in the spring I initially considered putting an epilogue of Arthur at the pub, going outside and handing over a glass of whisky to Solomon (the ghost of the dead Black soldier that Arthur encounters in that short story). I didn’t though, but in my head Seraphimus appeared as Solomon.
Support My Work at Buy Me A Coffee
Thank you for reading! If you enjoy my blogs, will you consider throwing a few quid my way at Buy Me A Coffee? There is something in it for you if you do:
Contributors get access to short stories and first look while members access in-depth blog posts and other content.
Sign Up to the the MG Mason Books Newsletter
Delivered to your inbox once a month (sometimes twice at the most), it will help you keep up with all my content creation. Plus you’ll get exclusive insights. Enter your email address below and click the button. See the dedicated newsletter page at the author’s main site for more information.