My dear imaginary friends

I was asked a great question by a friend and fellow writer over the weekend, and it was this -

Is it a problem if my characters keep changing the ending I'd planned for a story?

It was well-timed, as I'm currently working on characters for a new tvdetective book, and one in particular; a man who'll be so central to the novel (and fascinating, hopefully) that I want him to dominate it.

For a while now, I feel I've been guilty of the old charge levelled at we scribblers of crime fiction - that we let the... Read more

Darkness in the Sunshine

On perhaps the most beautiful day of the year so far, working on the stunning Dorset coast, I found myself in the midst of darkness.

I was covering the loss of the three Weymouth and Portland fishermen, following the sinking of their boat last week.  And it was an emotional experience.

I spoke to many people who knew the men, and read the scores of tributes which had been left all along the quayside in Weymouth.  And it was impossible to come away without feeling very moved, and deeply saddened.  The men were Dorset born and raised, well-known, and very... Read more

The trick to talks

I've been musing on the trick to writing and giving a talk, as I do some preparation for speaking to the Exeter University Book Group on Thursday (24th May).

It's a question I'm often asked.  And for me, there are two answers - one more complex, one very simple.

The intricate one first.  It's about the preparation.

I think you've got to get plenty of variety into a talk - some humour, a bit of seriousness, some poignancy, a few anecdotes, and also an insight into what you do and why. 

It all helps to keep the audience... Read more

A Slow Turning Circle

I've been feeling a comparison between my mind and one of those supertankers that plough the shipping lanes of this fair planet.

Not because they carry lots with them, or anything such - no, it's because they take a darned long time to change course.

I've been trying to switch from playwright mode into novelist, with what can only be described as limited success.  After the delightful immersion in An Unnecessary Murder, I'm now getting back to trying to edit the new tvdetective book, but... here's the thing.

Every time I attempt to wax a little lyrical - describe some... Read more

The teaching bug

I've been doing some work on a couple of teaching events I've got coming up in the next few months - at the Winchester Writers' Conference, and the Swanwick Writers' Summer School - and have been enjoying it greatly.

If you're joining me at either, I think I can offer you an interesting time.  I've come up with a couple of new exercises, on the dangerous but fascinating themes of secrets and surprises.  They delve into the soul of this being human / writing lark and I'm looking forward to trying them out.

It's all gone to remind me... Read more

Travelling times

I've been working on ideas for a new tvdetective book, and have been tempted to take Dan and Adam out of Devon and Cornwall for an adventure for the first time.

I suppose it's part of what writers do - liking to try something different, shifting out of the comfort zone, setting yourself a new challenge.  What's life for, if not to move onwards, learn and innovate?

Much of this week has been spent working in London, and it's there I'm considering as a setting.  It's a little different from Devon, to say the least.  Many people may rave about... Read more

A theatrical question

I keep being asked a question, so I thought here a good place to answer it. The inquiry is this - do I intend to write another play?

My stock humourous answer is currently yes, but only when I've calmed down after An Unnecessary Murder - which probably means in about ten years or so.

I've take the question as a compliment, as nobody has added the rider "let me know so I can be sure to avoid it". Quite the contrary, I've been lifted and flattered by all the kind and warm feedback, so thanks very much to everyone... Read more

The quirks of public life

A strange thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago.  And it got me reflecting on living part of this curious life-lark in public.

It's my happy experience to report that when people want to have a chat with me, almost without exception they're very polite and charming and there's never a problem.  They just want to talk about something I've covered on the TV, or one of the tvdetective books, or more recently the play.

A quick aside here - can I say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who's taken the trouble to get in touch and... Read more