There is a theory that authors reveal their own true nature and desires within their fiction writing.
I suppose it might be true, up to a point, but I think it’s more that we cherry pick ideas from life, be it our own or other peoples. Anyway, this theory can hardly apply to crime writers, can it? Would anyone have the guts to turn up at a book signing? Perhaps I should rephrase that! Also, what about Fifty Shades of Grey? The mind boggles…
I am half-Welsh and feel a definite affinity with Wales as soon as I cross the Severn Bridge. The scenery inspires me, as do its people. I once went gold panning in a river with a real-life Welsh-gold prospector and, yes, he was my original inspiration for Tom Johns, although he was nothing like my fictional character in the book.
Nor, am I anything like my emotionally-scarred and phobic main character, Kate. She’s also many, many years younger than me… sadly.
Despite this, I do have to admit that a few personal indulgencies have managed to creep their way into my novel.
Firstly, Kate’s surname is Hartley and this was my maternal grandmother’s maiden name. Secondly, Kate’s car is called George, a red Citroen 2CV. My mum’s brother, George, was a never-to-be-forgotten character and he drove a red 2CV.
There are several comical (I hope) references to leeks in the story and I have long been a fan of the Welsh entertainer, Max Boyce. Even Sir Norman Wisdom’s cap gets a mention. I wrote a book on behalf of Sir Norman’s ex-Personal Assistant, Ann Axe, plus I do talks about his extraordinary life to various WI and U3A groups.
I am a big fan of Inspector Morse, at one time editing the Inspector Morse Society’s newsletter, Endeavour. In Gold Digger, Kate receives a visit from Detective Inspector Snow and Detective Sergeant Collins. As you know, snow thaws, so, John Thaw, and Collins, well, in homage to Colin Dexter, of course. Kate also refers to her Welsh Granny Lewis. I hope Kevin Whately won’t take offence.
Morse features again at the hotel – the Dreaming Spires suite with its red jaguar headboard and crossword puzzle.
One rather strange coincidence happened when I was first writing the book. My character, Valerie Piper, is sometimes referred to in the story as the Viper, because, being a ruthless investigative journalist, the beautiful Valerie often sinks her fangs into people. I decided that she should drive a snazzy sports car, in keeping with her glamourous image. I went out shopping with my daughter and there, in the supermarket carpark, was exactly the sort of snazzy sports car I’d imagined for my character. I was gobsmacked when I looked at the number plate. It was V1PHA.
As Colin Dexter once said, now that’s what I call “creative writing”.
The Writing of Gold Digger
It has taken me quite a while to complete my novel and I think the problem has been two-fold. Firstly, as a journalist, used to writing feature articles, as well as two non-fiction books, it was a huge adjustment for me to convert to fiction. After all, a journalist’s job is to report on things and, as everyone knows, the first rule of fiction is to show not tell.
Secondly, I had been writing Gold Digger in third person, past tense, but found it difficult to engage with the characters. After a lightbulb moment, I rewrote chapters one and two in first person, present tense. Then, with great trepidation, read them out at the Creative Ink writing group in Beaconsfield – Jan Moran Neil’s splendid class, appropriately called ‘Get That Book Out of You’. The positive feedback from Jan and my trusted fellow class mates spurred me on.
From that moment a new determination coursed through me and my fingers flew across the keyboard. I was at last inside the head of my main character, Kate.
My non-fiction book, ‘A Twitch in Time’, the autobiography of Jack Douglas, had been self-published by Jack. My second book, ‘Pitkin’s P.A My Life with Sir Norman Wisdom’, was published by a conventional, but small, publishing house. My initial excitement at finding a conventional publisher, willing to take on my ghost-written book, ended in disappointment and frustration. They were only interested in plugging the book over on the Isle of Man and had no connection to mainland bookshops at all. My dreams of seeing the book on the shelves of Waterstones were dashed.
It was a fortunate moment when I walked over to the Mardibooks stand at Pitstone Literary Festival and chatted to Belinda Hunt. I at once felt a connection to Belinda and knew that if Mardibooks agreed to take on Gold Digger, my precious manuscript would be in safe hands.
I’ve been delighted with the services of Belinda and her capable team at Mardibooks and cannot recommend them highly enough.
Time for me to press on with my sequel to Gold Digger…