Or why I took a two month break from Robservations.
14th June 2019.
Sometimes you have to step back to move forward. In early April my thoughts turned to the publication of the fourth Kent Fisher mystery, No More Lies, due for release on 9th May. I needed to prepare for the launch, write guest posts for the blog tour and improve my visibility on social media.
The first two I managed, the third remains a work in progress.
Did I rest on my laurels?
My first task was to prepare for a guest appearance on Hailsham FM, a local community radio station that covers part of Kent Fisher Country. I’d been invited onto the Martina Mercer radio show on Sunday 2nd June. The aim was to chat and play a selection of music, chosen by me.
I could have flicked through my 600+ album collection for tracks I liked. Instead, I wrote down favourite records from the past, then I checked the artists in my collection, which reminded me of a few more tracks and songs. Eventually, I had about 30 tracks to choose from. I whittled these down to 15, which I took with me to the studio on Sunday.
After a chat and sound test with Martina, I adjusted the headphones, settled back and we were live on air. I enjoyed watching Martina work the controls, insert weather reports, adverts and sponsor messages, seamlessly switching back and forth to me and the music.
It looked effortless, but when things do, it usually means a lot of work has gone into them.
It was an enjoyable, fun afternoon. People who listened in have said how much they enjoyed the show, learning more about me and my books. They complimented me on my choice of music, which was great because many of the songs had a story to go with them.
The most recent song I chose was released in 1997, which kind of tells you where my music heart lies.
The best moment was listening to Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding by Elton John, probably my favourite song of all time. It sounded amazing in the studio. If you’ve never heard it before, click here and settle back for eleven minutes of an artist at the top of his game.
Slurry seems to be the hardest word.
Okay, I admit it. I was tempted to substitute a different last word.
Not content with choosing favourite songs, I asked a friend, who works for the Environment Agency, if he would take me to look at some slurry lagoons in the lovely countryside of East Sussex.
Why would an author want to look at big holes in the ground filled with cattle poo, you might ask?
Simple, I wanted to find out how easy it would be to dump a body in one. My friend took me to three different farms to give me an insight into the world of dairy farming and the waste it produces during the winter months when the cows are brought into barns.
It was a glorious afternoon. The sun was shining, the South Downs looked as beautiful as ever, and I was getting used to the smell, constantly watching where I put my feet as I walked around the farms. Nothing prepared me for the vast lagoons, which were much bigger and deeper than I’d expected.
Maybe I could dump a few bodies in one of these.
I’ll say no more at this point, as I wouldn’t want to spoil Kent Fisher #5, which I’m currently writing. But, if the action moves to a farm, you’ll have a pretty good idea what’s coming, but you won’t know why if I do my job correctly.
That neatly leads me into writing the next murder mystery, which started on 17th April.
When there is no justice, you make your own.
Like the previous novels, I’m trying to keep things fresh and different from the usual crime fiction out there. This time, the focus is more on Kent’s environmental health work and the problems which arise when an arrogant restaurateur feels he’s been treated badly.
Things go from bad to worse when the restaurateur is found murdered and Kent has no alibi.
I can’t tell you more because I don’t have a detailed plan or road map for the novel. Like No Remorse and No More Lies before, I start with an idea and a few suspects and go from there, working it out as I write.
And like the previous stories, Kent never misses an opportunity for social commnet when he walks from the town hall to a restaurant on Bank Street.
‘The banks have gone now, allowing pub and takeaway chains to move in and do their bit for obesity.’
Time for a cup of tea and a biscuit, I mean banana.
Until next time …
If you’d like to find out more about the Kent Fisher mysteries to see if they’re the kind of books for you, you can claim a free copy of No Mysteries by clicking here or the link in the sidebar to your right.