Welcome! Since I write two English mystery series, I thought it would be fun to chat about that. And about England. Specifically, Derbyshire, since that is the county I know the best. If you have questions about my books, about mysteries or your own writing, or want to know something about England -- perhaps you're planning a visit -- I'd love to talk with you. Let's start chatting, shall we?
Monday, November 8, 2010
Still We Persist
Who would have thought it possible a while ago? Certainly not I...which may be why I'm writing this goofy thing. Book three for McLaren is really, honestly, truly, amazingly on a roll. This after several 'pauses' for book talks at various places, Esther's latest visit (don't get me wrong -- I love having company, but it does void one's writing time) and little interruptions like teaching the mystery writing class, cleaning house et al. Of course, my first draft starts are always shaky. Even though I have the basic plot outlined, the characters named and personified, the subplot more or less complete...still, I don't know my characters all that well and I don't know exactly how the tale will unfold. It's slow going, agonizingly brain busting, and frustrating. Though I always set goals for myself -- the first dozen pages written, the first twenty-five pages written, the first fifty -- it is sometimes quite a while before I reach those goals. So, imagine my relief and excitement when today I surpassed page 100. My hero, Golden-age mystery writer Ngaio Marsh, used to have a goal of finishing 1,000 words a day. She wrote sitting in an upholstered chair (I got to sit in it when I visited her house in New Zealand), writing long hand with a fountain pen. Now, 1,000 words may not seem all that much if you realize that an average typed page of manuscript, double-spaced (I write double-spaced so that I can hand write my corrections in between the lines when I print out the first draft) is about 250 words. So, maybe a single-spaced page is 400 words, let's say. So that's three pages. Of course, I don't know the size of Ngaio's writing book -- I believe it was one of those large folders that held equally large pages. So she may have written more than three pages a night. Still, 1,000 words is nothing to sneeze at. Especially when you know that she hardly ever went back to rewrite her work -- it was more or less perfect when she wrote it. Anyway, some days I'm doing good to write one page. Even with one page, you figure that's 365 pages in a year and that is a nice-sized book.... So, even though it's taken me three weeks to write one hundred pages, I feel good about it all. The book is rolling, as I said; the characters are talking to me and to each other; McLaren is hot on the trail and I think I have all the firefighting info I need. I had doubts at the beginning of this book if I'd really chosen a subject I could write about, it so foreign to me and to anything previously in Taylor & Graham or McLaren. But I don't believe Torch Song will be mine or McLaren's Swan Song after all. Good news for any fans of McLaren out there.... And for me, 'cause it's fun to write about McLaren.
I discovered the joys of Things British while on a month-long trip to England during my college years. Since then, I've been lured back nearly a dozen times, and lived there during my professional folksinging stint. This intimate knowledge of England forms the backbone of both of my Taylor & Graham and The McLaren Case mystery series. Set in Derbyshire, England, the Taylor & Graham series employs British customs as the backbone of each book’s plot. The McLaren Cases features ex-police detective Michael McLaren, who now investigates cold cases on his own. I am a member of Sisters in Crime, and Mystery Writers of America.