July 24 2018
First post. Apparently in order to maintain a proper online presence as a writer, a blog is in order. And so, here we are. Often, the first word/sentence/paragraph/page of any written project is the hardest. I find it easier to write the last page of a book than the first. The last sentence of a Southern pulp fiction novella I'm working on is “Let's go find ourselves a rattlesnake”, a line that wrote itself, unlike the first, which took several hundred tries.
Therefore, I'm going to start with the reason I'm doing this at all. My book. My first complete, edited, published book. The Dead Woman Who Lived. I still get a thrill writing that.
I've written ever since primary school. And I've always written fiction. I was useless at argumentative essays, but excelled at short stories and descriptive work. My mother still has a copy of my first well-reviewed work, “Two Baby Whop-a-Doodles”, a short story about aliens whom I adopted. I got a special mention from the headmaster for it. No problem as a nine-year-old. But as an adult, I had trouble believing that I could really do it.
One of my favourite modern writers is Alan Furst. I've read all of his novels, and loved every one of them. I read an interview with him when he said that when he was deciding what to write, he narrowed it down, little by little. Fiction over non-fiction. History over modern day. World War II because that was his favourite era. And so on.
That's what I have done. My non-fiction reading tastes are social history in the first half of the 20th century, with emphasis on nursing, the WI, female education and the role of women during the two World Wars. Combined with a taste for interwar literature, an interest in clothing and culture over the same time, and a passion for murder mysteries and thrillers, it became clear that the best type of book I could write would be a period mystery story. And I've always loved Cornwall, even before Poldark.
There is a lot of such work around. Many contemporary books are being reissued, and I am forever indebted to Kindle for that. Before electronic books I had to scour bookshops for Penguin greenbacks and dusty copies of Miss Silver or Carter Dickson mysteries. As well as the originals, there are also a great many modern books written in period style. I tried very hard to write The Dead Woman Who Lived as if I was writing it in the 1920s. I did not stuff it full of period details about frocks and fabrics, or social hierarchies, or country house living. I tried to write a book that I myself would be excited to discover afresh.
Writing truly makes me happy. I am a nicer and happier person when I am writing. And so I shall continue.