What are you working on?
Not what you might think for a crime writer. Along with a colleague I’m looking at how creative writing techniques can be used in reducing the incidence of hip fractures in people with dementia. I'm writing a crime novel too and just waiting for a release date for the paperback of Where There’s Smoke.
What is happening around you while you write?
When I write on long train journeys, almost anything can happen. Memorable moments: the group of black deer scampering about the field outside; the psychiatrist who read patient notes loudly into a Dictaphone; the train that caught fire; the late night journey across Europe with only a very weird person whose language I didn’t speak for company. I created a watered down version of him in a book once. In fact, if I only ever wrote in a quiet office (which would have been my preference had life not intervened) would I ever have written the characters from The Doll Makers? Probably not, I’d have thought them too far-fetched.
Explain your research routine
I don’t have one. When I want to write about something I don’t know about, I go and dig for it. I talk to people, visit places, read first-person accounts, and of course I use the internet. And I rarely turn down the offer of a new experience, though sometimes I watch appalled rather than join in. It still makes my blood run cold when I think of the antics I witnessed that became Annie’s tower block escapade in Like False Money.
Which comes first plot strand, character, or what?
Usually it’s a tiny fragment of back-story that sits around a character who I will draw in my head in great detail and sometimes write about in depth. But barely any of this initial nugget will sit on the page in the finished version. The Jawbone Gang evolved from 30 pages of back-story that wasn't touched on until half way through the book.
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I'm handing the baton to April Taylor who has been writing stories since she was a child. She lives on the Yorkshire coast in the north of England with her husband and a blind rescue golden retriever called Rufus. In her working life, she was an information professional working in public and prison libraries – the latter had some very interesting moments! Her last job before giving it all up for writing was as R&D Information Manager for a global pharmaceutical company.