An extract from Hunting Darkness, a supernatural thriller by Ian Bristow
“I always came here with Williams,” Davis said, holding the pub door open for Sergeant Maddix. “It’s where we talked about our cases and—”
“—Drank?” Maddix suggested.
“Well—yeah, that as well,” Davis said, motioning to a nearby table that was uninhabited. “Nothing wrong with the odd pint or two to get the old grey cells squirming.”
“No, I reckon there isn’t,” Maddix said as she took the seat opposite Davis. “As long as it’s actually ‘a pint or two’ and not enough to get pissed.”
“And allow me to reiterate my earlier statement—because men seem to have this way of not hearing when women set ground rules—this is not a date. It is merely the location we have chosen to conduct some of the conversational aspects of our work.”
Davis chuckled and said, “Look, Maddix, just because you’re an attractive woman doesn’t mean I am inevitably going to hit on you. You’re my sergeant—not a potential lover. Let’s get one thing straight. I don’t know what kind of men you’ve worked with in the past, but I’m not them, alright. I’m a professional, and I’m dedicated to my work. You’re here to learn from me and help me. Our job is among the most important there are, so don’t patronize me, as if I would see you as an opportunity to get laid, rather than as an understudy and part of the future of police work in this country.”
“Did you write that, or are you just that good at bullshitting your way through tough situations?”
Davis gaped at her for a moment until the amusement in her expression became clear. “Well played,” he said with a small grin. “No, I didn’t write that, but I reckon I am about as well-versed in bullshitting my way through tough situations as the best of them.”
“I thought you looked like a bullshitter.” She said, turning to a passing waitress. “Two pints of Broadside”
“Ah, you’ve got good taste. But how did you know to order one for me? What if I fancied the mild ales?”
“I might only just be promoted to sergeant, but I’m still a good detective. I read people. And you are quite obviously not a drinker of mild ales. You’ve got bitter drinker stamped right across your forehead.”
“Oh yeah?” Davis laughed. “How do you figure? Illuminate me.”
Maddix leaned forward on her chair, her eyes flickering over all aspects of Davis’ appearance. “Well, for starters—you’ve got short, easily manageable hair. That tells me you don’t like to fuss with things that aren’t necessary because it’s a waste of time—”
“And people who drink mild ales tend to enjoy every sip because the beer is savory and sweet. Whereas bitters are punchy and to the point; perfect for a man who just wants to get on with it.”
By the time she was through, his dress sense, posture, inflection of words and mannerisms had all been attributed to his obvious preference towards bitter. He waited until it was clear she had finished, then chimed in.
“Okay, that was quite impressive. But there is a fundamental flaw in all of it.”
“Oh?” Maddix queried, her eyebrows raising. “And what is that, Inspector?”
“Yes you. Everything about you. You are very well put together. Your clothes are professional, yet just provocative enough to send an ideal message to those you feel might have relationship potential, which tells me you’re extremely thoughtful. You take your time with things. You want to savor moments. So by your earlier explanation, you should fancy mild ales. Because, like you so effectively stated, ‘people who drink mild ales tend to savor every sip.’ And that, Sergeant Maddix, is the flaw. If we are so different in exterior traits, why do we both drink bitter?”
A Bite of... Ian Bristow
Question One: As an American author, what made you decide to write a police procedural novel with a twist that is set in the United Kingdom?
Well, my dad moved to the states from England in his twenties after meeting my mom on holiday. And his dad came to live with us when I was six, so basically all my life I’ve been exposed to a lot more English culture than an average American. However, that wasn’t the only reason I chose to write a novel set in the UK. I also love the English use of the language versus American use and think it opens the door for richly developed characters (not that the American use doesn’t, I’m just not as drawn to it). And lastly, I wanted an urban fantasy element in my story, one that hasn’t been used to death, such as vampires, werewolves, witches, etc. So I needed a location that could house an authentic fantasy element with real world ties (or potential ties). Druids were rumored to have shape-shifting capabilities, and there have been numerous big cat sightings in the UK over the years. To me, it was too good to miss.
Question Two: Although this feature is about Hunting Darkness, it doesn’t seem right not to ask a true Renaissance Man in which area of artistic endeavour he feels most challenged. So what is the hardest work for you? Music? Art? Literature?
I would have to say that on the day, none of them feel like work at all. But more often I struggle to find the creative juices to write than paint or play music. I think that is largely because writing is the newest of the three art forms to be explored, so I have less experience with it. I’ve been making art since I was very young and started playing music seriously when I was thirteen. Didn’t write my first novel until I was twenty-eight.
Question Three: What is your weakness? Doughnuts? Cheese? Alcohol? Fast cars? Or something completely different?
Am I only allowed one? I mean, you actually named two of them here; cheese and alcohol. I love both far more than they love me. Another weakness that is not named here is doubt. I think all who create doubt themselves to some capacity, and while a little doubt is just what’s needed to get one to understand the very real need to have their work critiqued, it can also be debilitating to the point of not allowing one to accomplish what one is capable of. So I say to any who read this; yes, doubt your work, but don’t doubt yourself.
About Ian Bristow:
Ian C. Bristow is the author of Hunting Darkness and the Conner’s Odyssey trilogy. He is currently working on another title and plans to release that in 2019. When he isn’t writing, he works as a freelance artist and enjoys composing and playing music. (Good food and a few beers with friends are always welcome as well).
As well as writing Ian runs a cover designing service, Bristow Design . You can find him on his Website, check out his awesome timelapse art videos with his own original music on YouTube or follow him on Twitter.