Architect-turned celebrity speaker, Vincent Wright, is determined that nothing and no one is going to stunt his ambition - not disability, not agoraphobia, nor the half-brother he despises, or even the haunting spectre of a misguided adolescence. But fourteen years on, old friend and partner in crime, Langston Bola, returns with a lust for revenge fuelled by a life of hard knocks. With his past staring back at him, Vin suffers a panic attack that sends him fleeing to the sanctuary of his penthouse flat, but as Carnival Weekend approaches, a mysterious, young home help arrives at his door who, unbeknownst to him, has the power to destroy his career for good…
The Making of ‘Trespassers’ - by Saul Delino
Essentially, Trespassers is about a disabled, agoraphobic architect-turned public speaker fighting to regain control of his life when an adolescence crime comes back to haunt him. For a novel rooted in the crime genre, Vincent Wright doesn’t exactly scream ‘protagonist’. But then, Trespassers did come to me completely out of the blue and is not a crime story in the traditional sense. I felt the choice of milieu needed to be significant and since I was keen to write a book that really reflects the diversity of modern London, decided to set the story in Notting Hill against the backdrop of the impending Carnival. This helped ground the characters in their environment while emphasising conflicts in class, race, culture and identity.
The story stemmed from an early idea I had about a teenage boy whose family is ripped apart by the arrival of a half-brother he never new existed and the subsequent effect this has on their lives. I was interested in how circumstance plays a huge part in the choices people make which, in turn, impact their destinies. From very early on, I’d earmarked Vin as a control freak and the theme of control is central to the book; more specifically, what the characters choose to reveal or withhold in order to retain control. I wanted to create a feeling of uncertainty as to what the truth is, who is telling it and to what extent.
For some reason, Vin always struck me as disabled, but when developing the character, I considered an able-bodied man and put him in a wheelchair. I didn’t want to focus on all the things he couldn’t do. Instead, I wanted him to come across as exceptional despite his physical impairment; a high achiever who sets no limits on himself. His real issue, then, becomes not his physical disability, but rather the emotional dysfunction that threatens to destroy him. I consciously created a protagonist that readers would be torn about identifying with. He is, if you like, my modern day Ebenezer Scrooge.
So, what about the antagonist? Every crime novel needs a villain and there’s no doubt, writing gangsters can be tricky. There is always the fear this type of character may seem clichéd, which, naturally, I was keen to avoid. With Vin’s nemesis, Langston Bola, what I wanted was someone who, in almost all respects, was Vin’s mirror image, so both are from broken homes, highly ambitious, oblivious to the hurt they inflict on others and control freaks by nature. But whilst Bola is a gangster and pimp, he, like Vin, is battling physical and emotional trauma beyond his control, which gives him a more vulnerable quality. I also felt the need to create the sense that he is larger than life, ubiquitous; so his language and deeds are epic and he is spoken of in a tone that suggests that he is not someone to be messed with.
One of the key sub-plots in the book centres on whether or not Vin and his brother, Goldie can reconcile. Goldie was a lot of fun to write. Everyone loves a rock star and he is that and more, a hedonist, a talismanic front man, unsure of his place in the world both in terms of his familial roots and racial identity, determined to sabotage himself every time it looks as though he might be on the verge of achieving success. While success is what he desires, deep down, the thing he craves most is acceptance and forgiveness from Vin, but guilt over the affair with his wife that led to his Vin’s paralysis is constantly eating away at him. If he were real, Goldie would be a Gemini with all the associated inconsistencies and opposing forces.
Women play a significant role in Trespassers, wielding a tremendous amount of influence over the male characters. The challenge for me was to give them authentic modern voices that not only conflict with those of the males, but also with each other and none is more vocal and confrontational than the character of Kyshia, Vin’s young home help. I love Kyshia above all the characters in the novel. To me, she represents the conscience of the piece. In her we see what becomes of society when it fails the young. She is central to almost everything, her brash, street savvy contrasting with childlike vulnerability. But she also has inner strength, a survival instinct and an unshakeable belief in real love. And faced with Kyshia, the men always weaken. For one so young, she has a genuine hold over men, as do all the women in the book, to varying degrees. Throughout, there is a recurring theme of men struggling with their emotions around women; a genuine conflict between their love for them set against a need for control, leading to aggression and, in some cases, brutality.
For a relatively short book, Trespassers has a lot going on, mainly because the reader is thrust into the action as things are about come to a head. I wanted the characters to speak with a sense of urgency that helps the pacing of the story, but at the same time, I was keen to inject lyricism into the prose, reflecting the mood of each scene. I’m very proud of the book as it has taken many years and several edits. Spending so much time with these characters has been both joyful and difficult, but one of the biggest pay offs is that whenever I walk around Nothing Hill and Ladbroke Grove, I can really see these characters, large as life, going about their business. I’d like to think that it’s the same for other authors too.
SAUL DELINO – AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY
Saul Delino is a self-published author born in Chelsea, West London, to West Indian parents.
After his initial education, he went on to train as an architect at DeMontfort University, Leicester, and South Bank University, London, achieving both BA (Hons) Architecture and Pg Dip Architecture, respectively.
On leaving university, the building recession forced him to pursue an alternative career in recruitment, which he did for a number of years before training as a fitness professional, becoming a personal trainer and, for a brief period, a life coach. Most recently, he has been employed in the property development and telecoms industries.
Since his 'light bulb moment' for the book that was to become Trespassers, he has indulged his passion for writing, determined to see his work published. In 2015, he set up Rubbanecka.com to showcase his urban vignettes and promote his books. Having written Trespassers, he turned his attention to creating the self-help writer's guide, Writing Fiction FFWD, to aid beginners struggling to get their novels off the ground. He has also written screenplays and published several works of poetry featured in different collections.
When not chained to his laptop, he enjoys reading fiction and non-fiction, especially self-help and personal development books. He also a music and film lover and is learning Spanish and French with a view to travelling.
He currently lives in London.
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