A fresh approach to crime fiction

2016-12-23 Friday Feedback

It takes all sorts

At this time of year, it’s great to look forward to a break from work when I can relax and reflect on such meaty topics as will there be anything worth watching on TV? On DVD maybe …

This year’s no different, though this year was very different.

Twelve months ago, I drafted my resignation notice, ready to take a huge leap into the unknown. Was I nervous? You bet, but after 39 years in environmental health, I’d had my fill. A new career beckoned, and helped along by a tide of good wishes from friends and colleagues, I swept out of the office in March to work even harder from my office at home. First, Penmore Press published my first novel, No Accident, in June, and I published Fisher’s Fables in November.

Now when I meet people, I refer to myself as an author. They’re just as curious as when I used to say I was an environmental health officer (EHO), but at least they know what authors do. And if you’ve ever wondered what EHOs do, then Fisher’s Fables or my Case Files will give you an insight, along with plenty of chuckles, I hope.

Neither will help to clear the clutter that’s accumulated at home, mind. That’s this year’s task for the relaxing break between Christmas and New Year.

You’d think with more time at home, clutter would decrease, wouldn’t you?

Not if my desk is anything to go by. There are eleven notebooks within arm’s reach. (An additional five wait by the laser printer to see if they’ll be brought into action at any point.) The original eleven serve different purposes, though a quick glance reveals they all have one thing in common – notes. Lots of them too. There are lists, reminders, ideas, email addresses, phone numbers, research, plans, even a sketch of Tollingdon High Street for the next novel, No Bodies. Then we have a pad of Post-Its, the backs of envelopes and a mountain of scrap paper.

This must sound incredibly disorganised, but it’s simply a memory thing. Like everyone else, I forget things. I’m also learning and finding out so much about my new vocation that I’m almost constantly updating my website. If I don’t write things down, they’ll be lost a few moments later. Then there’s social media, newsletters, reviews of books I’ve read, tips and advice, and ideas for the third Kent Fisher novel.

Okay, I need a system to record and translate these notes into priorities and actions. (Gosh, I almost sounded like a manager there.) That’s my big push before 2017 rolls in. Then I need to wean myself off notebooks otherwise the meat in the fridge won’t be the only cold turkey this festive season.

HarveyAt least Harvey was easy to tidy up, courtesy of a visit to Champooch this week. Before the visit, he looked overweight, thanks to his thick Winter coat. Now he’s slim and svelte, ready to charm everyone he meets with his customary cuteness.

It’s a wonderful disguise for his independent, tenacious qualities, which he brings to his role of Columbo, Kent’s sidekick in the novels. After his debut in No Accident, Columbo’s much more involved in No Bodies, where he helps to save the day.

Columbo’s already an integral part of the opening of the third novel, which is little more than notes and ideas at present, but it occupies a lot of my thinking time when I’m out running. It’s the backstory I find most intriguing because there’s plenty of fallout to deal with when No Bodies concludes.

That’s what I like about the novels – the day-to-day life and conflicts behind the scenes which impact on the main murder mystery plot. All that added depth and intrigue.

Maybe that’s why I need so many notebooks …

Robert Crouch


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