The perils of being a crime writer

“Oh, Philosophers may rhyme

Of the perils writing crime,

Yet the duties are delightful and the privileges great…”

(From “The Gondoliers.” My profound apologies to Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan)

So, the perils of being a crime writer? Well, I`d say the greatest peril is the risk that writing, crime or otherwise, takes over your life! As I dream up my plot-lines, I have frequently found myself unable to concentrate on reading other authors` works, I can easily tune out of a movie if it fails to captivate me and I will often miss the content of family conversations (mind you, with a wife and two teenage daughters, who can blame me?)

I even took my laptop on our three-week summer trip to Florida, for goodness sake! In my hand-luggage too, along with my trusty Nikon 35mm film camera. A glutton for punishment, me; it seems that I can`t live without my characters and their stories and therein lies another of the perils. They all seem very real to me but I suppose that they must, otherwise how would I be able to relate their feelings, how they react to different situations? But when I fell in love with my female lead? Hmm…

Of course, that didn`t happen by accident; I suspect I wrote her to be fallen in love with – just as I wrote my DCI to have pity felt for him, my criminals to be reviled. But the lines can become blurred sometimes. As my Detective Sergeant would say “don`t get involved…` but it`s impossible. They are part of me and there is a big part of me in them.

And, of course, when you read “any resemblance to characters, living or dead, is entirely co-incidental…”

Really? You think…?

Take the discovery of the body in the loch, for example. A month or so after I started started writing, I had the entire plot set out in my head, based around that gruesome event. Then, out of the blue, a poor soul, suffering from Alzheimer`s, tragically went missing, presumed drowned in said Loch. Eventually his body was found (ironically by a rower) not in the loch but in a ditch near the water. However, for a number of weeks it was assumed that, sooner or later, his body would turn up in the loch itself, in all likelihood discovered by a rower. The peril of fact being stranger than fiction…

As to the “duties and privileges” – well, writing “Sins” has been one of the best experiences of my life; absorbing, exciting and great fun. I have met some lovely people, I have talked endlessly and excitedly about my book and about writing, I have enjoyed every minute and continue to do so as I write the next chapter of DCI Grant McVicar and DS Briony Quinn.

“And the culminating pleasure

That we treasure beyond measure

Is the gratifying feeling that our duty has been done!”