Welcoming all readers and writers to the Writing Process Blog Tour. It’s kind of writers’ online chain letter all about how we like to work, and I commend it especially to those of you who use your keyboard for creative stuff, whatever your style or subject. Find out what makes your fellow writers tick. After all, we wordsmiths have got to stick together, right? Thank you to the ever-dynamic Ben Warden for inviting me to join the tour. Check out Ben’s site and you will find enthusiasm for the written word that will inspire you, even when that blank screen seems impossible to fill.
The blog tour gives us a four question structure, but like politicians and other talking heads, we can say what we want in the answers. Here goes…
What are you currently working on?
Well, obviously, I’ve been working on a blog entry about the way that I write, and I’ve been trying to create a self-deprecating but witty tone of voice for the piece. I’m already having doubts about how this will finally turn out… I’m also trying to get ahead of the game by working on a summer-themed short story for the utterly brilliant Words from a Bench project. My spring contribution is already with the editor, but a quick idea appeared for the follow-up, and so a few hundred words are now sitting on my desk waiting for more inspiration. I’m very pleased with the first sentence, though… And, of course, I really should also be working on chapter six of the next ‘Larry Di Palma’ crime mystery, and I should be writing a few more press releases and emails to bookshop managers.
How does your work differ from others of its genre?
I think our general view of the crime genre is more informed by television than books, and that the bulk of TV detectives seem to fall into the same miserable, middle-aged mould. Larry Di Palma is as insecure as all the rest, but because he narrates the story, he has to tell us about how he thinks and feels; he isn’t some closed-off, would-be macho character who fails to understand his own faults. He can be an unreliable narrator, but he tells his story with a desire to be honest, and he can also be pretty funny.
Why do you write what you do?
I probably can’t do better than repeat an earlier online interview: I’ve been writing for a very long time, and, as many of us do, I’ve experimented with poetry and short stories, and written an early, semi-autobiographical novel. Crime fiction is, broadly speaking, the biggest selling genre in the UK, so it made sense to consider moving in that direction with a view to getting published. But crucially, the result is a book written very much in my own voice, and saying things that I want to say. Alternatively, we could shorten this question, and make it Why do you write? Certainly not for the money, but why does anyone write, paint, compose and so on? It’s a kind of compulsion. If you love reading enough, you will inevitably want to write.
How does your writing process work?
It’s variable. With ‘Death Benefit’ I had written quite a lot of chapters, not necessarily in chronological order, before finally getting the plot structure in place. I’m working now on ‘Live-in Killer’ and spending more time planning the plot in advance, although I don’t think I will ever be the sort of writer who plans everything before starting the text. In the end, every writer will have a different approach or many different approaches. When I write short stories or poetry, it is different again. But one definite advantage of following the advice to ‘write what you know’ is that you don’t get bogged down doing hours of research before you can write something. I definitely need to keep some sort of momentum, and the feeling that I am making progress.
This is possibly a bit of a cheat, since the original premise of the tour is that each writer should nominate three more blogs for you, dear readers, to visit. Anyone familiar with pyramid-selling, or even anyone quite good at maths, will guess that this quickly becomes unsustainable. Never mind. Just check out the websites of these talented writers and groups. No need for the blog questions, just enjoy what they have to say… Happy reading and writing!