• Theatre masks

    Exit Stage Left.

    A writer’s journey Part 3 – another dream bites the dust) You know the score. You start to get the hang of something, maybe excel here and there, and suddenly you’re invincible. Your confidence soars. You say something profound … and silence. Or worse still, laughter. It’s difficult enough, fitting in with children who come from a different background, especially when you want to hide your humble beginnings. It takes a lot of effort, observing and learning, knowing which lies to tell and when to remain silent. But finally you blend in. You make sure you don’t do anything that will draw attention or make you look silly. You grow…

  • Covers of NO Accident by Robert Crouch

    No Alternative (Or why I wrote No Accident)

    I didn’t need to write No Accident. I’d already written No Bodies, a perfectly good story to launch the Kent Fisher murder mystery series. A UK agent had read it from cover to cover, keen to see how an environmental health officer (EHO) would solve a murder. Alas, she didn’t take me or the book on. It needed polishing, some work on the characters. I was getting closer to a publishing deal, so why didn’t I do the work, improve the story and resubmit it? Something was missing. In No Bodies, there’s a reference to Kent Fisher helping the police round up a drugs gang. Yeah, just the sort of…

  • Write

    Love is up in the air

    (With apologies to John Paul Young for corrupting his song.) In my Valentine’s Day email to my Readers Group, I gave them a look under the bonnet of Kent Fisher’s turbulent love life. From the outset, I gave Kent a fear of commitment. It offered the chance to have people come and go from his life as the series developed, keeping the stories fresh. But the characteristic isn’t restricted to his romantic encounters. It goes to the core of him, rooted in childhood disappointments and the wise words of a teacher, who wanted to lift his spirits. There’s always something better around the corner. This gives him a restless nature.…

  • Signpost saying truth lies

    The importance of being dishonest

    A Writer’s Journey Part 2 – How to survive when you don’t fit in. In Part 1 of my writing journey I talked about the role books played in my childhood, how they inspired me, and ultimately led to me becoming a writer. Reading also had the power to alienate me from those around me. Books were a window on new worlds. Books offered knowledge, wisdom and opportunities. They gave me broader vocabulary, a way to tell taller stories. In the hands of a child who knew no better, this could be dangerous. Growing up in a bungalow in the middle of a country estate left me isolated from other…

  • Lieutenant Columbo

    My Favourite Five Fictional Sleuths

    I’m often asked about my favourite fictional detectives and sleuths. It comes with the territory when you write murder mystery novels. Readers want to know which writers and detectives you like and why, whether they inspire or influence your writing. The five I’ve chosen have all inspired and influenced me and what I write. They have all provided me with hours of terrific viewing and reading. They still do, which is always a good indicator of how much you like someone. Best of all, I often find something new or something I missed before. They also have one thing in common – apart from being on this list. They were…

  • Who do you think you are? image

    Who Do You Think You Are?

    A Writer’s Journey Part 1 Becoming a celebrity could help me solve a couple of problems. If I was a household name, it would be easier to get a book deal and sell thousands of novels. Quicker too. There’s also a chance of being invited onto the BBC ancestry series, Who Do You Think You Are. If nothing else, it might help me to discover whether I have ancestors who passed down their creative DNA to me because I’ve no idea why I wanted to become a writer. Okay, in case you’re thinking I’m a tormented soul in an ivory tower, or one of those people who papers their bedroom…

  • New voice

    The blog that led to murder

    Would you believe a blog could lead to murder? Me neither. Not that anyone was killed, of course. Not in real life anyway. It started when I gave up smoking. It took minutes to discover I couldn’t write without cigarettes. Life, eh? In March 2007, ten months later, I wondered if I would ever write again. It sounds a little dramatic, it’s how I felt. No Accident, my killer crime novel lay unfinished on my PC. I couldn’t work out how my hero could solve the murder. My joy at having created the perfect crime soon evaporated. Not solving a murder is not an acceptable ending for a classic whodunit.…

  • Write

    More than a Murder Mystery

    Isn’t it lovely when readers surprise you? Here I am, writing murder mysteries for crime fiction lovers, doing my best to create the most baffling and convoluted plots possible. Being a huge fan and admirer of Agatha Christie, I’ve studied her approach and techniques, determined to learn from the best-selling crime writer of all time. When the reviews and feedback come in, I’m delighted when readers enjoy the plots, the complexity and the unexpected twists that lead to an exciting climax. But many of them love the characters and the backstory. They want Kent Fisher to find the woman of his dreams, to deal with his boss and the bureaucracy…

  • Sue Grafton

    A hero for today’s murder mysteries

    Have you ever read a book or watched a TV programme and wished you could write something as good? Neither had I until I saw the original Inspector Morse series. The superb characterisation, complex and intriguing plots, and the beautiful Oxford settings captivated me. About the same time, BBC 1 aired the Miss Marple series, adapted from Agatha Christie’s books. Both programmes evoked the same emotion and desire to write a complex murder mystery. At this point, I should tell you I was already a writer. Not a successful one, unless you include the national short story competition I won at the age of 12. That early enthusiasm and promise…

  • Crime Scene - No sex please

    No Sex Please We’re Crime Writers

    Have you ever wondered why there’s so little sex in crime fiction? Maybe there is and I’m reading the wrong books. Maybe sex and murder are not good bedfellows. Some categories of crime fiction, such as cosy mysteries, exclude explicit sex, graphic violence and excessive swearing. In my book, literally and metaphorically, this doesn’t exclude romance, sexual tension and people sleeping together. It simply frowns on graphic description. But sex scenes should only be in a story if they are essential to the plot or character development. This should be the case in any book in any category. If a killer, for instance, seduces his or her victims before killing…