A Cold Day to Drown – Inspiration

It all started with a title, a pseudonym, and a photograph.

I’ve been toying with the idea of adopting a pseudonym for several years. As an English/Language Arts teacher at a public middle school, I get Googled frequently and for a few years I was growing weary of deflecting questions from students about my writing. One evening, while troweling through Behind the Name for character names and possible pseudonyms, I came up with a combination that I immediately fell in love with.

Humans, genetic hybrids, and machine intellects of all ages, allow me to introduce you to:

Talbot Liu.

To describe exactly why I love this name would be a meta-footnoted diversion into so many layers of my psychology that it’s probably best to just say that I like the name and leave it there. However, as much as I like the name, I immediately knew it did not fit me. No, better to adopt the Avi-esque mononym of Otto, or the family inspired moniker of Otto Linke than attempt to pass myself as Talbot Liu.

But that name had to be used.

Around the same time I was digging around the public domain photography site Unsplash.com and I found an image of a man standing on a dock. Where many other people have seen this images and thought, “I should put an inspiring bible quote over to the right of that guy”, I looked at that image and decided it would be the perfect cover for a brutal crime novel. (Perhaps we are going to dig into my psychology in this post after all.)

A seriously killer novel cover. I want so much to read this.
A seriously killer novel cover. I want so much to read this.

As for the title, I have no idea where that came from. Perhaps it was a phrase Cecilee said, or maybe I was looking at the poster for Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing while in a morbid mood. Wherever it came from, I knew immediately that I had to write a crime novel titled A Cold Day to Drown, use that image as a promotional shot (and possibly the cover), and either name the main character Talbot Liu or take a risk and release it under that name.

A Cold Day to Drown Andrew Cover
This version of the cover is more likely to actually be produced.

But Andrew, you have never written a crime novel. You’re not even a fan of most crime TV outside Physic and Sherlock… and you don’t read a lot of crime novels either.

Bah! Get the from me anxiety, I can write a crime novel if I damn well want to. I might not know much about police procedurals, but I can probably cook up a crime story starring a criminal. Maybe nothing as twisted as Darkly Dreaming Dexter, but certainly something on the calibre of Ocean’s Eleven. Right?

Well, that’s what we’re going to find out over the next year or so. I’ve got a whole lot of other projects running at the moment, but here in June, 2016 I’m committing* to write a dark, gritty, crime-ridden novel about Talbot Liu within a year.