I am delighted to have been tagged by writer Chris Hill to write this post. Chris is a good friend of mine, and is the author of Song of the Sea God. His blog can be found at: http://songoftheseagod.wordpress.com/ and he is on Twitter @ChilledCH. He and I are both nominated for the e-Festival of Words, fortunately in different categories. Chris has a brilliant chocolate coloured cockapoo puppy called Murphy (see end of post), who sometimes appears on his Facebook page and definitely deserves a whole book to himself --hint,hint. So, on with the tagging:
What am I working on?
I'm currently working on the 3rd Victorian crime novel featuring Detective Inspector Leo Stride and his long suffering assistant Detective Sergeant Jack Cully. Readers met them first in Diamonds&Dust A Victorian Murder Mystery, which is published by Crooked Cat Books.
From the outset I was pretty sure the book was a one-off, as it had a difficult birth, being rejected by my agent, and its genre, which could loosely be described as historical-pastiche-crime-comedy is not exactly to everybody's taste. Or so I thought.
Of course I was proved wrong. Readers fell in love with the characters and I was deluged with lovely reviews and pleas for another book. Thus a second book got written Honour&Obey, A Victorian crime thriller. This is currently being read by my publisher, and in the absence of anything better to do, I have begun a third book. I blame the readers.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
As already stated, the books have a slightly comic edge and reference contemporary writers of the period and styles of narrative. What I don't do is 'add' to an already popular strand as some writers have done with Jane Austen or Conan Doyle. The books stand alone, a homage to a period and a literary canon that I admire tremendously - even though I slightly take the p*** out of it at times.
As I'm not attempting to replicate one particular style, I can flit happily between styles, using the intrusive narrator device of Thackeray or Sterne, and the socio-political rantery of Dickens. It helps if you are familiar with Victorian writers and the way they write, but it is not a necessity. I hope.
The other way the books differ is that I write in one almost continuous narrative. There are pauses, but no specific chapters. I do this because the story unfolds from several perspectives, and it is easier to switch viewpoint by this method. Plus, I find it hard to write in 2 thousand word slices. I think it gives the story pace - certainly several reviewers have commented that they couldn't put the book down. Glue secreted on the pages also helps.
Why do I write what I do?
Well, on the surface, I am a nice kind person who helps old ladies across the road (normally they are me). However, behind this benign front lurks a deeply complex individual with a dark interior world that few dare venture into. This is the reason I love reading and writing crime fiction. Maybe it's something resonating from my past, this urge to slaughter people...who knows? All I can say is that the one occasion I tried my hand at chicklit, there was a body on the floor by the second chapter. And not in a good way. It is always said that you should never fall out with a crime writer, as they will inevitably kill you in their next book. In my opinion, this is quite true. Be warned.
How does your writing process work?
I usually start by researching specific areas that I think might be part of the final story. For Diamonds&Dust, it was the vampire scare of the early nineteenth century. For Honour&Obey, it was the ''lonely hearts'' columns that were a feature of many Victorian newspapers. I re-read lots of contemporary fiction writers. I then write little bits and pieces featuring characters. And over time, all these processes, fuelled by vast amounts of coffee, continue until a novel emerges. I have blogged about how I write here. It is very unsystematic, but all I can say is, hey, it works for me.