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Happy Without Holidays

Everyone needs a break in life - with the exception, perhaps, of writers.

I penned a tweet this week, which drew a fair bit of reaction - "Being a writer permits no holidays - but what true writer would want one?"

I didn't mean was that we don't love a break - everyone likes to get away, enjoy a change of routine, see something new, try something different etc. All I was saying is that an author is never off duty.

On Friday, I was fortunate enough to be at a beer festival in Newton Abbot, Devon, and doing what you do at such times - drinking, chatting, snacking, chatting, drinking etc. And a splendid day out it was.

But! Half way through the afternoon - yes, ok, perhaps with my mind liberated by the joy of English ale - I had an idea for a talk I'm doing at a writers' school in the summer.

And here's a measure of how important I thought the idea was - I actually put down my glass of beer to write it all in my notebook.

(Wow! I even surprised myself with that.)

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Falling in Love

Something strange happened to me this week - I realised I was falling in love with one of my characters in the new book, The Dark Horizon.

I'm amidst the final edits, which is far from my favourite part of writing. Thinking up the ideas, the people, the places, the twists and turns is the bit I really like, followed by the actual physical writing, but as for the edits... oh, yawn and trudge.

However! The more I edited the sections involving her, the more I found myself smiling at what she was doing and why, and wanting to spend more time with her.

June is her name, and she's not a major character, but not a minor one either. She's fundamental to the plot, so perhaps she's a major minor?!

And before I sound too weird here, I should emphasise it's not a physical thing. June's old enough to be my Mum, but she's powerfully driven by her principles and acts on them in the most creative and remarkable ways. And she's wise and kind and just generally fab.

Which then got me thinking about the other characters in the book, and I came to an odd conclusion -

I like them all, in that I created them for a purpose and they seem to do their bit in the story. But some I actually like as people and others I don't care for at all. 

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Revenge and Observations

An incoming text message this week made me laugh - lots and lots.

It said simply - 'Tell me I'm not the taxi driver'.

The reason? A friend had read my most recent book, Shadows of Justice, after another pal suggested one of the minor characters in it bore more than a passing resemblance to him.

It didn't take long for Friend A to reach the same conclusion. The character in question adopted a faux Cockney accent and played the laddish wide boy - 'Cor blimey geezer etc etc..' yet still had the proverbial heart of gold.

I confess it is one of my favoured little tricks, to steal bits of people to pop into characters. It's such good sport it's irresistible!

Whenever I go out, I always take a notebook and am forever on the lookout for quirks, mannerisms, or tics of speech the like of which can be very powerful in creating living and believable characters.

My poor long suffering friends have become quite used to it. Now, whenever we're out together and the notebook appears, they'll say 'Uh oh, what's he seen this time?'

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How Could I Forget?

I had a strange experience this week, when I was doing my day job and reporting from a library. I noticed some of my books on a shelf and had a realisation...

I'd more or less forgotten about them.

The library staff were so amused at my moment of dizzy revelation that they captured it for posterity, complete with books at my elbow (no wonder the smile looks even odder than usual) -

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That's one of the strange things about being an author. When you're in mid flow with writing a book it dominates your life and your thoughts. But when it's done, and all the fuss of publication, and the launch, and a few gigs to promote the new book is over...

You're soon moving onwards, thinking about the next one, and that takes over your mind instead.

But it was a warm feeling, standing there next to The Death Pictures, my first novel. I suppose, in a way, it was like meeting a very fine old friend again.

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