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â€˜Write what you enjoy readingâ€™
I donâ€™t know how you could do otherwise. Iâ€™m not a policeman, or a lawyer or a forensic-anything. But Iâ€™ve been reading crime fiction since my mother weaned me off Enid Blyton on to what she enjoyed reading herself. This included the work of writers from the so-called â€˜golden ageâ€™ of the whodunit, like Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. I was hooked. Thanks Mum.
Since then, Iâ€™ve read work by many of the crime writers youâ€™ll have heard of, and lots of less well known ones too. Iâ€™ve just totted up the books on my â€˜to readâ€™ shelf: there are 76, all but two of which could be described as crime novels. My first husband used to joke that heâ€™d told his mates to suspect foul play if he died suddenly, because I was so well informed about ways to dispose of him. Reader â€“ I just divorced him.
No Stranger to Death
Some years ago I attended a Bonfire Night party with my second husband. When I mused out loud that shoving a body into a huge bonfire would be a good way of getting rid of incriminating evidence even if it didnâ€™t consume the entire corpse, his response was â€˜Go on then, write itâ€™.
No Stranger to Death is the result of that challenge. Itâ€™s set in the Scottish Borders (where we live) and is intended to be the first book in the â€˜Westerleaâ€™ trilogy of crime novels. The principal characters are recently widowed Doctor Zoe Moreland, deaf genealogist Kate Mackenzie and Chief Inspector Erskine Mather, who â€“ unlike most fictional detectives â€“ is neither alcoholic or scruffy.
Working to a deadline
Last year I set myself the deadline of 22 July 2010 â€“ the opening date of the Theakstonâ€™s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, held annually in Harrogate â€“ to have a completed draft of No Stranger to Death. I achieved this, and am now editing that draft.