My Murder Squad mate Cath Staincliffe is the hugely successful creator of the TV series 'Blue Murder', as well as a varied and accomplished novelist. I'm delighted she has found time to contribute a guest post about her latest book.
'Back when I first started writing novels I only had a few hours a week to write and that became sacrosanct – I ignored anything else clamouring for attention (chores, I mean – the kids were safely off at playgroup and school) and knuckled down. I knew it was the only way I’d get anything finished. The limit on time meant it took me something like eighteen months to write a book and that novel was the sole focus of my writing time.
Years on and now working full-time writing television scripts and radio drama as well as novels and short stories, I find myself jumping between projects like a grasshopper. I still get things finished but I’ve had to develop the ability to switch from one story, one set of characters, one form to another, on a regular basis. Though I only ever have one novel on the go; I don’t think I’d be able to do that hopping about between books but it’s easier moving from a book to a radio play or a television treatment and back. Writing two novels at the same time would cause my brain to melt, I think – like reading two books at once, something I can’t countenance.
At present I’m delivering a novel each year and that leads to some overlap of tasks: so for example I’m now busy promoting my latest publication WITNESS while I’m simultaneously re-reading and copy-editing SPLIT SECOND which will come out next year and also discussing new ideas for the book for 2013 with my agent and publisher.
Alongside that I’ve been proof-reading my contributions to BEST EATEN COLD (ed. Martin Edwards) a Murder Squad anthology, developing and pitching new television drama ideas, writing the script for a radio play in Danny Brocklehurst’s STONE series, drawing up an entry for a scriptwriting competition and researching ideas for LEGACY, my own radio drama series. I like the variety. But it’s interesting talking to other writers who much prefer to concentrate on one medium and would hate the mix I have. Novelists who say they couldn’t cope with the collaborative nature of working in television or radio, with everybody chipping in and shaping the script and changing it beyond all recognition or scriptwriters who imagine the life of a novelist to be unremitting loneliness and isolation, with no-one to bounce ideas off and the tedium of working on one book for years on end. I think I’m lucky to have the best of both worlds. Though now and again there will be a lull after deadlines have been met when I have a few weeks to concentrate solely on one piece of work – and that does feel like a luxury. So maybe a bit of me hankers after the old days when it was one thing at a time – but it’s just a bit. Honest.'