It's not often that my fiction appears in close proximity to that of the great Ben Okri (well, it's never happened before, if I'm honest), so you can imagine that I'm very happy to find my brand new short story appearing alongside one of his (and others by the likes of Sophie Hannah and Elly Griffiths). "Catch of the Day" is one of six stories to be found in Skald, an exciting and innovative collection produced by Audible.
The story behind my involvement with this collection is unusual. It goes back to March last year, when I took part in the Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai. Among other things, I was interviewed with Rob Davies about Golden Age fiction and the British Library Crime Classics. Ellah Wakatama Allfrey proved to be an excellent interviewer, and it all went swimmingly. And shortly after my trip to the Festival, I set off for Honolulu, for Left Coast Crime. Because Hawaii is so far away, it made sense to expand my stay there, and I spent a few days on each of three very attractive islands, Oahu, Kauai, and Maui.
I had in mind, as I always do on these trips, that I'd soak up the local atmosphere, and research the places I visited, in the hope that an idea for a work of fiction of some kind would come along. And so it did. In fact, quite a few possible plotlines hopped into my mind, and before long, I started to sketch out a mystery set on Kauai, an island which I found entrancing. I decided it should be a first person narrative, told by a local driver, as I'd picked up quite a bit of background colour from drivers I met.
Then, out of the blue, Ellah came back into my life with news of the Audible project, and a commission for a new story with a theme of "discovery". She liked the concept of "Catch of the Day", and this spurred me into action. I found her editorial input extremely valuable, and I'm pleased with the resultant story. The photos illustrating in the post were all taken in Kauai and all feature locations mentioned in the story - except for the photo at the end, taken at the Emirates Literature Festival interview.
I'm trying, as a crime writer, to develop my skills and to stretch in fresh directions. This seems to me to be the best way to try to enthuse an increasing number of readers. I've been publishing fiction for a long time, but you can always improve, and this is what I keep aiming to do. And it certainly helps when you have a good and sympathetic editor. I'll never be a Ben Okri, admittedly, but after years of striving, I do feel that my fiction is moving in a more exciting direction than ever before. More news on that front shortly, I hope!