My Inspiration: Chris Wood | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed

Northumberland writer, researcher and student of psychology and criminology, Chris Wood releases his debut book around a subject which has captivated him from an early age. Famous Last Words collates a fascinating selection of utterings from those about to leave this Earth and the circumstances that surround it. It’s a publication that reveals ‘tales of sangfroid bravery, astonishing ironies and overdue confessions often betraying grave miscarriages of justice, throughout British history.’ 

The book is available on 20th April (pre-order here). Ahead of its release we asked Chris to tell us more about what inspired it…

Perhaps it’s a rather odd ‘passion’ for one to have, but the topic of death – yes that eternally taboo subject – has been a long standing passion of mine. I don’t necessarily mean the physical transition to this state – though I do find our ‘death professionals’ and the work they do fascinating – but its link to criminality and the psychology behind it in particular. How people can do the things they do to others, the ‘mad or bad’ debate, and just how do people feel when they are about to enter eternity, are all issues that have never strayed too far from my morbid thinking. 

For planting this initial seed I probably have to ‘thank’ Nick Ross, that immaculate BBC Crimewatch presenter from the 80’s and 90’s. Readers of a certain age will of course resonate with this, the eerie reconstructions of horrific deeds appearing to normalise just how at risk anyone could be, sent shivers down the spine. Of course this always came with the reassuring caveat of ‘Serious crime is extremely rare, so don’t have nightmares, do sleep well’. 

And of course, Nick Ross was correct. Not about the nightmares – these came hand in hand with watching the show – but with his assertion that violent crime was indeed rare. Nonetheless, it always left me in wonderment; just how could such perpetrators of evil occur in an apparently ‘civilised’ race? Moreover, throughout time just how have people approached their final moments on this mortal coil?

It was this train of thought that led to the idea of Famous Last Words, a book which, rather than merely listing people’s final utterances, goes further, taking  cases and exploring just how an individual reached their point of no return and how they approached their impending doom, recorded through their words, whether spoken or indeed written. I wanted also to explore the impact that these words had on the society and cultures of the time they occurred, as well as the contrasting emotions expelled by different individuals as they met their makers. Some face it with astounding bravery, some with humour (I know!), some even choose to unshackle their minds of longstanding burdens through a gasped deathbed confession. Whichever they choose, they each appear to be as personal and different as the lives they led. 

In this book it is my hope that the reader will take from it at least some of the enjoyment I had in creating it. Discovering both the lives and departures of some of Britain’s forgotten souls, and some of the subtexts around these will hopefully provide intrigue and interest. From the man that kept a running commentary of his own demise, to the 82 year old woman that revealed to her family as she breathed her last, that she was in fact a murderer, each individual has their own story to tell.

Now it is time to hear them.

Like this story? Share it!

Subscribe to our mailout