Hello. My name is Carol Hedges and I write crime fiction (nervous smile). Look, I'm a nice person. Really I am. See, I drive a pink car; I have a peach-pretty blog. I help old ladies over the road (usually they're me). But. Somewhere deep beneath the surface lurks a dark, manic, twisted soul who likes nothing better than plotting how to murder, maim or mutilate people. Could it be an attempt to take fictional revenge on all who have, throughout my life, trashed, dissed or annoyed me? In the words of the celebrated failed Alaskan politician: You betcha!
Most writers start at the beginning of a book, and work their way in a sequential narrative until they reach the end. Crime writers do it backwards. We start with the crime and who committed it, then work out why and how it happened. In each of the Spy Girl books, I always wrote the last page first. Then the 'hook' at the beginning. Then the bulk of the story. Sometimes, I had as much of a clue as to what was going to happen next as my teenage heroine. I like this sort of writing, as it is always challenging - I couldn't do the JK Rowling 50 pages of notes and a couple of grids schtick, as I'd get bored. Very Bored. I have to walk away from every writing session thinking: Okay, how the hell am I going to get my character out of THIS?
I thought you might like to read an extract from Dark Side of Midnight, as I've finally (with help) managed to upload the cover onto my blog. This is the opening, the hook that hopefully makes you want to read on. I read these hooks out loud when I'm doing book talks. On a good day, with a receptive group and if I pitch it just right, the audience goes very, very quiet..... magic!
''Dark clouds were massing on the horizon. The rider glanced up and swore under his breath. He knew exactly what it meant: a storm was coming. Not a good omen. For this was Antarctica, the remotest place on earth, a white wilderness where temperatures could drop to below - 54 degrees. The rider rechecked his coordinates, then jumped onto the Snokat. He had to hurry. There was not much time.
Deep in their snow hole, the two men waited, listening to the unending silence. Exhausted, huddled together for warmth, they had not moved, nor eaten for days. Only a thin fragile thread of hope was keeping them alive. Nearby, a third man was curled in his sleeping bag. He looked contentedly asleep. But his two companions knew better: this was a sleep from which he woud never wake - a few hours earlier the man had finally succumbed to frostbite and the mind-numbing cold. Now he was dead.
And over in the corner, a big black body bag lay against the wall of the snow hole, its zip ominously pulled up.
...The faint whine of the Snokat penetrated the icy prison walls of the snow hole. The two men sat up and exchanged disbelieving glances. Could it be? Or was exhaustion and cold making them hallucinate. The sound continued, got louder. Summoning up the very last of their carefully hoarded strength, they slowly and painfully began to tunner their way out. The rider waited. He watched the two men hatching from their frozen cocoon like grotesque insects. He waited until they had both turned to face him, their snow-blinded eyes bright with joy. Then he drew out a sub-automatic, lifted it to his shoulder and fired two shots.
The Snokat bounced over the surface, leaping ice crevasses, racing ahead of the fast approaching storm. Tied to its rear, the black body bag stood out sharply against the endless white of the polar landscape. The rider crouched low, pushing the machine to its limits. Behind him, two bodies lay crumpled on the ground, their blood petalling the snow with crimson.
The first flakes began to fall.''