Deadly Inheritance by RW Crouch cover

The story that refuses to go away

When I was a teenager at school, I was hopeless at maths. (I could spell differential calculus though.)

One week the homework was a tricky equation that baffled me from start to finish. Each time I tried to solve it, I got it wrong. After working through ten or eleven pages of calculations in my exercise book, I was ready to give up. It felt like the equation had a mysterious power over me.

Come on, I told myself, it’s only an equation. Are you going to let some numbers get the better of you?

I took a long hard look at the equation and something clicked. Minutes later, I solved it.

My teacher gave me top marks and wrote ‘Well persevered’ in the margin.

My writing sometimes followed a similar path. I tried one approach to see if it worked. If not, I tried another. Then another. While I was determined to get it right, most of the time I didn’t.

(I could be talking about the evolution of No Accident, the first Downland Murder Mystery novel, but that’s another story.)

If Deadly Inheritance turns out to be the first in a new series, then it will have followed a similar journey. It’s certainly the story that refuses to go away, urging me to give it one more try.

In January, I reviewed the latest draft from last year to see if it was worthy of further attention. The plot was too complex, lacking credibility. The characters needed to be sharper and more engaging. Throw in an almost non-existent backstory, and it looked like curtains.

The following day, I wondered if I could simplify the plot. It would give me more time and space to develop the characters and build a solid backstory. Best of all, if I shifted towards a cosy mystery by moving the setting …

The ideas kept coming, which makes me wonder why I never thought of them before.

But then it was never meant to be a novel. It grew out of a short story for a charity anthology. One day, needing to stretch my writing in preparation for a new Downland Murder Mystery, I took the characters and began to experiment.

Maybe it was my subconscious, urging me to write something different.

The characters always appealed to me, for reasons I won’t bore you with now. The story was inspired by a real event. A few weeks after moving into our first house, I was checking out the loft when I found a small attaché case. It contained a typewritten novel.

From the moment I read the opening paragraph, I knew the event would feature in one of my novels one day.

Can I turn Deadly Inheritance into a novel of publishable quality?

I don’t know, but I’ll give it a try.

To keep focused, I’ve designed a temporary cover, which I hope you’ll like. The strapline will no doubt change several times over the next few months, as did the title last year.

More than that, I’m doing something I said I’d never do. I’m going to share my progress in public. It’s part of my plan to break out of my comfort zone, to challenge myself and put some fun back into writing.

While ending up with egg on my face isn’t my idea of fun, it should be an interesting journey. You can follow my efforts on Facebook, Instagram or my blog over the coming weeks and months. So please like, share and comment as we go along, or make friends with me on social media.

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