Well, I’ve done my first teaching gig. Who would have thought it? Though I come from a long(ish) line of teachers, I’ve never for a moment felt the urge to take up the chalk and stand in front of a class myself – until I was asked to be part of the fabulous Evesham Festival of Words and give a special workshop on writing crime fiction. How could I refuse?
I don’t pretend to know everything about the art of crime writing, though over the past six books it’s true I’ve picked up a thing or two. There are some obvious pitfalls to avoid, and some clever tricks I’ve now got up my sleeve that I was happy to impart to my nine eager students. There are as many ways to write a crime novel as there are to skin a poor old cat, and we had a good chat about most of them. Should you develop a series, should you stick to standalones, do you want to go hard boiled or do you prefer the cozy side? There are certainly a lot of choices when you take to a life of crime.
All in all, as we discussed story arcs, protagonists and antagonists, overarching themes and undercurrents of subplots, I found myself really enjoying the process. And, of course, it was all very much a case of ‘don’t do as I do, do as I say.’
I gave everyone my strict daily word count and a rundown of my ascetic routine, which does not involve frequent stops for tea, cat-feeding, little trips to the shops and the odd essential lunch with friends. Luckily none of my students will be around tomorrow, as I flit between various websites, avoid getting down to my writing, and abandon my post at a shamefully early hour.
But then, I’m between novels at the moment. Number 6 is finished, about to be edited, and will be published on 25th June as The Body in Belair Park. Number 7 is on the drawing board, in my mind’s eye but not yet down on paper. I do feel a bit as though I’m playing truant. But as well as (I hope) inspiring my lovely students to get on with their WIPs (works in progress), I’ve also given myself a kick up the backside.
Normal murderous service will soon be resumed.