A Life of Crime

As you can see from this site, I write Fantasy. Epic Fantasy is the genre I’m trying to make it in, even though I’m now published as Romantic Fantasy, and will continue that series. (Or Romance with a small touch of fantasy, at the very least.) And apart from the fact I read oodles of other Fantasy and SciFi authors, I also enjoy reading all kinds of books, fiction and non. I love biographies of sportsmen and women (was quite disappointed with Jessica Ennis-Hill’s, sorry… it seemed too much froth, a very light look at what should have brought over the immense struggles she’s had, in order to succeed) and I like modern history, especially the Second World War – Anthony Beevor and Hugh Sebag-Montefiore are the masters in bringing history alive.  I’m very partial to Lee Child, like anything Stephen King writes that isn’t ‘gory’ horror,  Marian Keyes tickles the hell out of me, and I re-read James Clavell’s books almost like painting the Forth Bridge, in  a slow continual cycle. Though I think advances in modern paints mean they don’t actually have to do it any more…

And I’ve come to adore Ian Rankin’s work. I was aware of Inspector Rebus on the telly, and the ones I saw were always pretty entertaining, but I’d not actually read any until 2012. The reason I decided to actually read them was because Ian Rankin came over as a very funny and entertaining guy in real life. While doing my MA at Sussex University Ian was a speaker at First Fictions, a weekend celebrating first novels, past and present. Even though I didn’t speak to him personally, he came over so well – self-deprecating humour, intelligent, and generous with his praise of other works – I decided I’d like to actually read some of his books. So I did. And I wasn’t disappointed. Funny how, once you’ve heard an author’s actual voice, it comes to you as you read from the page. I even hear JK Rowling’s voice when I read Robert Galbraith, which are also great stories.

But I carried on writing Fantasy, and got calls for full manuscripts from agents and publishers, but no acceptance yet, and I’m still working at that coalface.

A long time ago, I got the idea from a patient (I’m an osteopath, remember?) for how to get away with murder. She’d been prescribed tablets that had a certain effect on her, and we joked about how you could use them to remove people… It must have stuck in my mind and churned over and over, because when my wife and I went on holiday this year, the idea for the perfect crime surfaced. I put it down to red wine and relaxation. I decided to do my usual approach when I have a writing idea: I start a ‘whatif’ file. Whatif the perfect crime is committed, how would it be detected? Whatif the hero/heroine discovers it, but can’t prove it? And so on.  It’s like a brainstorming session, with only my brain involved, but four pages of ‘whatifs’ later I felt I should write the first chapter. The weather wasn’t too good, so I wasn’t missing much, but 33,000 words later, I’d fleshed enough out for a two-book crime novel. That’s pretty much how all my stories have started out.

Back home, I worked on it in between editing other people’s books and my Fantasy work-in-progress. And the ideas kept coming. I subscribe to a lot of internet sites for writing and agents and when I saw that Curtis Brown were offering a three-month creative course my first instinct was to submit my Fantasy work, since it had been requested so often, and I knew it needed professional input to get any further. But I hesitated, no idea why, except I was reading ‘Saints of the Shadow Bible’ by Ian Rankin at the time. I showed my crime novel to my writing group and they showed me where I’d gone wrong. I submitted the rewrite to Curtis Brown and just to show Serendipity really does work, on 21st October I received their acceptance, in the same batch of emails that contained a rejection for my Fantasy work from Hodderscape. One door closed and a different door opened…

It’s difficult to say how excited I am by this opportunity, but YEEHAA!!!!

Course starts on 17th November, and I’ll try and provide updates. I wouldn’t mind  a life of crime.