Thursday, August 20th, 2015
Inspiration? The answer to that most-asked question is more like perspiration, constantly fighting time with six months to write one historical crime novel a year, excluding the research involved, meanwhile no coffee mornings for the novel’s duration, and my friends know the rules so it’s a quiet time.
A computer at 9 a. m. is not my best hour but I have learnt the trick of leaving a sentence uncompleted or characters with a cliff hanger. The creative juices, alas, have a limited period – what R. L. Stevenson (my inspiration!) called ‘the orange is squeezed dry’. By 1 p. m. I’ll return to face 21st century domestic chores but never quite escaping ‘and what happens next?’
I write crime having always loved puzzles, addicted to Sudoku, crosswords, jigsaws, anything to keep the little grey cells ticking over and on my daily walk in Southside Edinburgh, the setting of so many invented homicides, I have dialogue with my characters much to the wry glances from passers-by.
Although a certain glamour surrounds being a novelist, I tell fans who regard my list of books with awe that for me, it is just a job like their own. Writing is what I have always done, long before my first novel was published nearly fifty years ago and Inspector Faro and Rose McQuinn have become real people – also to my readers. In moments of exasperation I’ll say: ‘This is your story, you tell me what you did next.’
But writing ‘The End’ feels like closing the door on much loved friends, wondering when we will meet again – if ever. Then I wait until the seed of the next plot, lurking somewhere beyond the horizon, springs into life. I don’t pursue it, I wait patiently until it is strong enough to have dialogue, arguments and resolutions.
One day, it’s there! And off I go again. Next book, please.