Monday 21 January 2019

The Life of Crime

When I started this blog, way back in October 2007, this is what I said:

"The aim is to share my enthusiasm for crime fiction, and the craft of writing. From childhood, I dreamed of becoming a crime novelist - and I love being part of a fascinating world.

I’m not only a writer, but a fan, and I’ll have lots to say about lots of terrific and often overlooked books and films, past and present. As for my own writing life, I’ll share the frustrations - and also the pleasures. If this blog encourages any would-be writers among you to keep at it, I’ll be delighted."

At that time I had no idea of what (if anything) the future held for me as a writer. I'd never won a single literary award, I was a grass roots member of the CWA, and the Detection Club was a famous institution that I'd once been invited to as a guest. Suffice to say, then, that the last eleven and a bit years have been a wonderful ride for me, proof that truth is stranger than fiction.

But it remains as true as ever that I'm a fan as well as a writer, and that in writing these blog posts (about 2750 of them now, eeek!) one of my over-riding aims is still to show that, even for ordinary writers like me, the writing life can offer all sorts of little unexpected pleasures which compensate for those moments when one despairs of ever being able to write a worthwhile bit of prose. (And inevitably there have been setbacks of one kind or another during those eleven years, too, which make the good moments all the sweeter.) So I'll continue to share with you some snippets from what I call in my talks my "life of crime"

Let me start with a few things that have happened during the first days of 2019. In the past three weeks, I've been contacted by a student from a university in the south of England who said that The Golden Age of Murder has inspired him to write his dissertation about the classic mystery. Julia Buckley kindly got in touch from the US to tell me that Yesterday's Papers features in the Oxford Dictionary of Literary Allusions. A journalist writing for the Smithsonian Magazine has interviewed me about fingerprints and early detective stories.A fan from the US who enjoyed The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books shared information with me about Arthur Ransome's detective story reviews. Sheila Mitchell has given me fresh insight into the recording the audio version of Gallows Court. I've had the pleasure of corresponding with a new writer who has been battling with mental health challenges - a subject that I've become increasingly concerned with. And I've been invited to speak at Agatha Christie's home at Greenway (wow!), at the Rye Arts Festival, at a festival in Beverley, and to a women readers' group here in Cheshire. With colleagues from Gladstone's Library, I've worked out the programme for June's Alibis in the Archives. And I've even managed to get quite a bit of writing done.

So although the life of crime has its challenges, it has plenty of privileges as well. And that's why I remain so very, very keen to encourage other writers who become depressed and contemplate giving up to keep at it. You simply never know what is around the corner. And even when things seem to be going badly, there may be happier days ahead, if you only keep the faith. 

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