Wednesday 28 December 2016

A Christmas thriller?

As I mentioned the week before last, I have what might become a new novella in the works. A Christmas novella. (Don't panic, it will be next Christmas.) It began with a discussion on kidnapping over lunch that started off an idea, and as it was coming up to Christmas that seemed a good time to set it. (Atmosphere and all that.) And snow will be involved. Which is a bit of a surprise, as I do not like snow very much. But it will mean that I might get one of those pretty glittery snowy covers that Christmas books always have. I will try not to get bloodstains on it. As it is my hero who is getting kidnapped there had better not be any blood - or at least, not much.

So, I have a bit of a challenge going on. Romantic suspense is not generally the first thing you think of in relation to Christmas spirit. Cosy crime seems to get away with it, and ghost stories are part of the Christmas tradition, but thrillers? We're back to that body count again. I'm also determined that it will be a novella - 30,000 to 40,000 words, as I have other stuff I want to do, like getting back to a full length romantic suspense, not to mention the day job. But I'm wondering if that is enough for a thriller? I have a gut feeling that a true thriller takes a bit longer to develop. A novella? Too much menace too soon and it's horror, not enough and its crime rather than suspense?

Anyway. I am going to have a go. I have an interesting hero and heroine and a four year old, and a cat, and  a lot of snow, which is a surprise to them as it was to me.

And Devlin from Never Coming Home is going to make a cameo appearance. 

And there is going to be a helicopter ...

Sunday 25 December 2016

Wednesday 21 December 2016

The Winter Solstice

Less of the dark ...
Today is the Winter Solstice. If you're in the northern hemisphere today is the shortest day, longest night. Once it's passed. it's all down hill until the sun comes back. I, for one, am very grateful for this, as I hate the short, cold and dark days of winter, despite my fondness for writing dark stories. When I mentioned on Facebook recently that this would be the shortest day and I would be pleased when it had come and gone, a lot of people 'liked' and commented, so I am not alone in looking forward to the return of the light.

... and more of the blue sky and sunshine!
Which is not to say that the Solstice does not have a certain fascination. Old Celtic customs, ceremonies, and celebrations of the dying of the year, often involving light and fire, have their attraction. It's a time of transition too. And any kind of border, in place or time, is potentially interesting to a writer - sites of change and possible peril. Advice to would-be writers often suggests that the protagonist of the book should be at a point of change in their lives, and if you write the dark, spooky stuff then ancient lore and magic adds to the atmosphere. You're plugging into something that has a long history and trails it's own echoes with it. And of course there are the stone circles - Stonehenge being the most notable - which are aligned to the Winter Solstice.  It's remarkable that there was sufficient precision all those thousands of years ago to make that happen. Stone circles are a mystery in themselves - not least how they were transported and raised, so it's not surprising that they still have a deep seated pull, even in 2016. I'm sure there were the usual druid groups at the stones this morning when the sun came up.

Wales is quite good for folklore and atmosphere and amongst the (many) plans I have for future books there is a series that will have some of those overtones - or should it be undertones - build into them. I'm looking forward to writing them, but it won't be for a while yet, unfortunately. In the meantime, there is research, which is always fun, even if it does come with short days attached.

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Using the Experience

Atmosphere and emotion.
As you know, I don't put real people in my books, or situations lifted from real life, if I can help it. Writing romantic suspense, a lot of it has to come out of my imagination, so it's not a problem. What I do use is ideas and experiences.

Like the very long lunch a week or so ago with some friends, in which we discussed kidnapping someone. Yes - we're writers, this is what lunch is all about. The idea sort of stuck, and by the time I was on the train home I had an idea for a novella - I hope it will be a novella - that begins with a kidnapping. The hero is the chosen victim, which is going to be fun, if rather uncomfortable for him. I've actually already written the first bit, and it was very enjoyable. So, there you go. I'm weird. But you know that. 

And last week I was at the Millennium Centre for a matinee of Kiss Me Kate - Cole Porter's fabulous music, which I have been humming ever since, especially the rather heartbreaking love song, So In Love. And that's going in a book, too, as I realised that it spoke to me about the hero of the full length romantic suspense that I'm hoping to get to next year. He's a musician with a baby grand piano in his hall - it's a big hall -  and of course he ends up playing the song and thinking of the heroine. Which is me being sentimental, not weird. Maybe one day I'll get to use I Hate Men too, but that's for another day and another story!

So - it's writing what you know, but it's not about simply lifting something out of real life, at least, not for me. Overheard conversations give me rhythms of speech, not the words, songs give the emotions - and that's a key. How does it make you feel?

For me, that's what writing is about.

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Can I come to the ball?

It probably hasn't slipped your notice that authors and publishers are promoting their Christmas releases. Lots of seasonal stories to be enjoyed at this time of the year - and given as gifts. Very important, that. Significant dates in the calendar - Mother's day, Valentine's, Christmas - they are all times to gently, and maybe not so gently, suggest that the present of a book is a Good Thing.

Which gives me a problem. When I write romantic suspense I'm a bit more difficult to invite to the party. You might take me on holiday, but a high body count is not considered the Right Thing for a romantic or sentimental occasion. Even though they do have a love story involved. So I'm left out in the cold, with my nose pressed up against the window, watching everyone else have fun. (And sales) Awwww!

But, I hope, not any more. Now that I have branched out and have begun to write lighter stuff as well as the dark, I'm hoping that will change. You will. of course, be kept up to date on progress. Then can I come to the party?