Writing: Searching For Clues In The World Of Crime Writing, Or Whodunit; No Really, Who?

September 1, 2014



When I became a published author of contemporary fiction, I always proclaimed I’d never write crime fiction, and I’d never write a series. And yet, here I am, three years later, an author of crime fiction, with a two-book deal contract for the first two books in a series. I have written the third, but it needs much editing before I pass it over to the publisher.

I always thought crime would be too difficult to plot and write the resolution, although it is my favourite genre to read. I revere authors such as PD James, Ian Rankin, and newly discovered (for me) Elly Griffiths, and I still do after delving into this world myself.

I decided against writing a series in the first instance, as I love creating new characters. However, after creating DI Eva Wednesday and DS Jacob Lennox, I decided I enjoyed being with them so much, I wanted to see where life would take them. Thus far, they haven’t disappointed me, so our journey continues for the time being.

I went to a talk by Peter James, crime writer and chair of the Crime Writers’ Association from 2011 to 2013, and he stipulated how important it was to have a link with the police force to give ones writing an element of reality. I thought at the time it was easy for him to say as he was a successful author, and I came away feeling slightly deflated.

One rainy Sunday morning, I was standing on the touchline watching my teenage daughter play football, when I overheard the man next to me declaring it had been a quiet shift for murder that night, enabling him to come and watch his daughter play. Now I’m quite a shy person, but I approached him and explained my situation, then I gave him my “business” card and hoped he would contact me; especially as he was, and still is, a detective inspector in the Metropolitan Police Force. He has been such an invaluable and patient resource, I dedicated my first crime book to him. The moral of this is you never know where you’re going to come across some form of inspiration or resource, so always keep your ears and eyes open, and a supply of cards with your contact details on.

I have a plethora of books on writing crime, and although they can’t answer questions like a human being can, they are an excellent addition to any writers’ armoury. I’ve listed below a sample of my own groaning bookcase to help you along the way:

* Talking About Detective Fiction: PD James.

* Criminology For Dummies: Steven Briggs.

* Forensics: DP Lyle, MD.

* The Arvon Book Of Crime And Thriller Writing: Michelle Spring and Laurie R King.

As for devising the plot, I generally know the beginning of the story, which generally comes to me in a day dreaming moment, and the premise of the novel. I also believe I know the denouement, but I’ve proved this as a misnomer, as the outcome is invariable different to what I originally thought in the beginning. It tends to change as I get to know the characters more. The twists can take me by surprise, which in turn I hope surprises the reader.

I am continually learning about the art of writing, and when reading well-renowned authors, it feels like a never-ending process, which of course it is. But that is part of the joy of being an author, continually striving to master words, plots, protagonists, and antagonists, and to hopefully create a memorable read.

If I’ve helped one writer who’s been hovering on the diving board of crime writing take the plunge, then I’ve achieved something. Welcome to this murky world, my friend.