I wanted Reviver to feel real.
It wasn’t going to be easy. Reviver is a thriller that blends crime and the supernatural, based on a premise that, let’s face it, is distinctly far-fetched:
There are people who can bring the dead back. Only for a matter of minutes. Only once. It’s a skill that allows the grieving to say their final farewells, and – crucially for the book – it allows the police to question murder victims, hoping to gain information that can break a case.
No spiritualism here, no mediums channelling the voices of the dead. No room for suspicions of misguided self-delusion or outright fakery. With revival, it’s physical. The body speaks, the corpse regains some limited, gruesome movement, just enough for it to have its say. Just enough for there to be no doubt in the minds of those watching.
But for the book to work, I knew that the doubts of the reader would have to be dispelled too – that they would have to accept the underpinnings of this world entirely.
The opening chapter hits hard and fast, hurling the reader into the book and – I hope – leaving them eager to know more about how this strange new discipline operates.
That chapter came quickly. It was only later that I realised how big the job ahead would be, to carve out a new kind of forensic investigation and have it feel like a routine part of the process. My research involved reading up on forensic pathology until the harrowing images of the dead became almost mundane, fascination replacing the horror. Then, exploring the day-to-day experiences of forensic scientists and crime scene investigators, their true-life exploits a world away from the ludicrous plots and ridiculous non-science of their worst-offending television counterparts.
After that, of course, I had to distil the research, to conjure up a world where it coalesced into something convincing, something that can carry the reader along willingly.
The irony of most of the CSI-style TV series is that they are supposedly portraying reality, yet what we get is sheer fantasy.
Reviver, on the other hand, had to do the opposite: take a wildly supernatural premise, and make it feel authentic.
How well did I manage it?
That’s up to you.
Seth Patrick is published by Pan Macmillan