Being nice people

For someone who writes a lot about crime and the horrible things some disturbed people are capable of, I am perhaps surprisingly unsettled by plain and simple unkindness and thoughtlessness.

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Where did that come from? Writing outside my genre

I was enjoying the view from the cliff-top near my home. I am so lucky to live on the South coast of England and never tire of the view over the Channel. It was a fine day and the sea was sparkling where the sun met the wavelets (love that word!) undulating in the slight breeze. A yacht without sails was motoring its way against the wind and bouncing in the along-shore choppy swell. As often happens, the gentle breeze and lovely light made it easy to feel ready for a story to began to take shape in my mind.

The title came first and it was a distinctly odd one. The first two parts of the story formed rapidly and I needed to record a memo on my phone so I did not forget before I had access to a pen or my keyboard. These two parts were vivid in detail, gently funny but with a dark twist. I was thoroughly enjoying my pondering and elements of the story bounced into my consciousness effortlessly. The next part of the story also came to me but it was entirely, unexpectedly dark and apparently unconnected to the first part of the story. Never-the-less, it was also fully formed and rich in detail with an ending that tied cleverly to the odd title. In just a few short minutes of cliff-top pondering, I had zipped through curious enjoyment to unsettled bemusement. As I write this post, I have no idea where the story is going, or how the two parts come together. The elements of the story I have so far, take me back many years to being a teenager and reading HP Lovecraft for the first time. My story is nothing like ‘The Call of Cthulu’ other than a vague connection to the sea and its creatures. I do not know why Lovecraft came to mind other than through the realisation that this story, which called to be written, is one very much out of my genre.

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Places and spaces

It has been a busy, and satisfying ‘writerly’ few weeks.

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Hanging out with friends: CrimeFest 2018

Next week I will be hanging out with good friends – Martina Cole, Jeffery Deaver, Lee Child and Peter James. These guys have seen me through the bad times of being in hospital and that time when a terrifying storm almost took apart my seafront, cliff top home (when I was in it!). Also the good times – sunny, hot beach holidays, cosy winter nights and lazy Sunday afternoons. I honestly don’t know how I would do without them by my side. Of course, as all good fiction writers do, I am playing with the facts a little here. To be completely transparent I am not personally acquainted with any of these great writers/story tellers but will be attending talks and workshops presented by them at the International Crime Fiction Convention – Crimefest. CrimeFest 2018 is being held over four days in Bristol and has been a popular and ever growing annual event since it was established 2008. The Convention is an opportunity for both readers and writers of crime fiction to get together to talk about crafting great stories, hear about writing processes, have own writing reviewed and gain developmental feedback, get early copies of new works and also meet and pitch to publishers. This year there is even a forensic crime scene excursion! Check out the itinerary on the Convention webpage. It looks like it will be a fantastic event.

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Stories are everywhere!

Many years ago a good friend (hi Fin) introduced me to the joys of a walk around a graveyard. And what an introduction it was! She took me to the remarkable Grade II listed Undercliffe Cemetery in Bradford. This burial place was first developed in the mid-1800’s. The site is terraced and has panoramic views over the town of Bradford and the hills and valleys beyond. It was created at a time of huge industrial development in the local area and the ‘best’ plots soon became sought after by the newly wealthy industrialists and people of stature of the local towns. Some of the extravagant crypts reflect the social history of the time – for example, passion for all things Egyptian following Carter’s excavation of the tomb of King Tutankhamun. Others have ever higher obelisk needles each seeming to reach out to the heavens just that little bit higher than its neighbours. Not all of the tombs are so grand. In fact, there have been approximately twenty-four thousand burials in the cemetery to date. Relatively humble headstones mark the factory workers such as Benjamin and Agnes Boldy, brother and sister aged 16 and 12 when they died, or the coal merchant William Chadwick (age 37) whilst the Surveyor Joseph Smith has one of the high columns reaching to the skies.

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