Friday 30 September 2011

Hidden Gems by David Robinson

We are all lucky today because I have a guest post for you.  I get an excellent blog post without the pain of drafting it. (Didn't you know writing can be painful?) And you get a great writing tip from a successful author.

David Robinson is a pal of mine who has been active on the Writelink site even longer than I have. He is one of the most prolific successful authors I know, turning out several novels a year.  He also has a cracking sense of humour and writes side-splitting blog posts.

David has said he's less comfortable writing non-fiction, but today's post proves that he is just as good at it. Enjoy it, and then please go and visit him. And while you're at it, why not buy one of his e-books advertised in my side bar.  If you click there and buy, we'll all be even happier.  You'll get a spiffing yarn at a reasonable price (or the very useful how to tome), David will get a sale and I'll get a commission.

For a preview of his writing style. read on.  I know you'll enjoy this.

Hidden Gems

Like Jean, I’m a much travelled man. Leaving aside the rest of the world, there is no part of Great Britain that I haven’t visited, whether on business or holiday.

Wherever I go, if I have a little free time, I always head for the second hand bookshops, and I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up a few treasures here and there. A first Penguin Edition of Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass & The Pit dated 1960, a first hardback edition copy of a little-known novel by Keith Waterhouse, Office Life.

I was scouring the shelves of one shop in (I think) Whitby when I picked up a book entitled Hypnotism & Crime by Dr H. E. Hammerschlag.

I trained as a hypnotherapist in the early 90s. I was also writing crime fiction and I’d had this idea for a detective who was a ‘forensic hypnotist’. I bought Dr Hammerschlag’s book sometime around 2003, with the feeling that it would more than repay the £5 I paid for it.

Understatement! Hypnotism & Crime contained a hidden gem.

The book details a series of cases where hypnosis has been used in the committing of crimes, and within its pages there was an account of The Heidelberg Case.

Without going into great detail, this case, which happened in Germany from 1927-1934 blew away the notion that a hypnotised subject cannot be made to do something which would be against his/her moral standards. The subject, only ever identified as Mrs E, made six attempts to murder her husband and when they failed, the criminal hypnotist persuaded her to commit suicide. It was only good fortune that prevented her doing so.

To someone who writes crime fiction, mysteries, dark sci-fi and paranormal horror, The Heidelberg Case was a gift from the gods. From it, I developed a 100,000 word novel which, as I write, is with my editor, in preparation for publication.

My point here is not The Heidelberg Case, or the potential for abuse of hypnosis, or even the writing of such fiction. It’s research.

As writers, we all know the value of research, but people often say to me, “you write sci-fi and horror, you don’t need to research anything.”

Wrong. Many of my titles are set in the here and now, and at the very basic level, I have geographical research to carry out. Some of my sci-fi titles are set within the Solar System and I need to know the names of Jupiter’s moons or the orbital period of Saturn.

When it comes to more complex tales, such as the abuse of hypnosis, I’m up against a community which will swear that I have my facts wrong. Dr Hammerschlag disagrees with them, and so do I.

But it’s not simply establishing fact to mingle with the fiction. Having this research material to hand permits me to speculate. Why did Mrs E never remember a hypnotic induction? How did the hypnotist entrance her without saying a word? Why did Dr Ludwig Meyer’s original account of the case disappear?

These are questions to which there is no answer, but they’re questions upon which I can allow my fictitious forensic hypnotist to speculate.

And all this from a book that is almost 60 years old.

So the next time you’re wandering through the second hand bookshops and have your eye on a title, pause a moment and ask yourself what hidden gems you may find in those pages.

David Robinson is a freelance writer, novelist and humorist, who self-publishes his works on Smashwords and the Kindle. You can find him at and His titles are listed at and


Elpi said...

Great post, David. I absolutely adore second hand bookshops too, and next time I visit one I'll be carefully looking for books to help with my research.

David Robinson said...

My missus and I hae an understanding. She spends hours in th shoe shops, so I spend hours in the second hand book sellers. I get more mileage out of the book than she does from the shoes.

Maureen said...

Interesting post David and good advice - I also love second hand bookshops - it's my dream to own one.
Thanks for sharing this, Jean.

Unknown said...

Thanks for visits and comments, folks.

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