Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Been very busy again, the business partner decided to go up the Amazon backwards in a canoe with no paddle. We thought this was very brave as they normally panic if they are not in sight of L K Bennett or Starbucks. We thought this was even braver when they came back photos of spiders as big as a human head... and that was in the sleeping quarters. I have trekked the High Atlas in Morocco but all we had to content with was a very drunk Shetlander and a donkey with irritable bowel syndrome.

And things have gone well with the play for Radio 4, the edit for book four is back while I am researching book five. It was always my intention to brutally slaughter somebody on the beach at Whitby in book five ... which was a bit daft as I had never been to Whitby in my life but being a Bram Stoker buff I thought it was rather an enchanting idea. So we booked to go and have a look see - but then had to cancel due to commitments with Radio 4. So we rebooked, not realising it was the Easter weekend we would be away ... as would every Tom, Dick and Harry with their pit bulls, tattoos, chips, Range Rovers and an awful lot of Lambrettas. I had already committed myself to the story, indeed I had already written that part of it - the body lying on the cobbles on the beach, the waves tickling the stones - that chattering noise pebbles on a beach make as the water advances and retreats ... and the body is lying there, being lifted a little with each incoming wave.

I was very happy with that. Until we got there and the beach is of course, sandy. I would like to point out before you lot do, that research has told me that parts of the beach could be either ... but the one bit I wanted, was defo sandy.

While standing there, it became apparent that I couldn't use it anyway, as I had the action in the book. Whitby is built on tiny inlet, there is a perfect view from the surrounding high ground of anything that goes on anywhere on the beach.
Including murder.

It has to be said that the initial impression was not good, it was so busy the cars could not drive down the street due to the crowds on the road and dogs on very long leads getting caught between the cars. It was hot, noisy and very smelly. But then so was Venice probably on that day. It was brutally hot. We drove straight through the town at 0.5 miles an hour and up to the sanctuary of the abbey where I rethought the start of the book - the grass, the ruins, the wind, trying to imagine it all at night and it was perfect for my scene of gory death and destruction. Looking one way at the sea, just a haze of mist in the heat, the other way led to moors that a Bronte would be proud of.

Later, once the crowds had gone, we descended on Whitby (for chips!) and were treated to a thunderstorm worthy of a special effects Oscar. Lightning screeching across the bay, dark clouds rolling in from the sea, the thunder clattering in the distance. The sky was opening and closing allowing shafts of bright sunlight to radiate through, prisms of gold through the sky ... and they shone right on the ruins of the abbey, high on the cliff, silhouetted against the darkening sky behind. It was so beautiful people stopped on the pier to watch the clouds dance over the abbey, not minding that they ( and their chips) were getting soaked through. It was absolutely spectacular. It felt as though Dracula was talking to me, I could hear the voice of Mr Stoker on the wind. I said so and "he who must be ignored" immediately sniffed my Irn Bru to see if there was any alcohol in it. He has no romance in his soul.

In that mood Whitby was a very beautiful place indeed. And worthy of a good murder high on the hill.

I'm busy on the edit of book four, a very different book from book three but still in the Anderson and Costello series, the editor thinks it's 'remarkable, weighty and absorbing'. And I did worry whether is was a natural progression from Dark Water or a departure... but they are happy it's a forward progression in my writing. It was one of those books where the book is written , it gets sent off and then you read in the paper that it has really happened ... but I'm not telling you what but it was a bit worrying!!

We are off to Bristol soon to attend the great Crimefest - that's the one I got in the lift with Jeff Lynsay of Dexter fame and he admitted that he was quite scared of me. I don't really think that was a response to my literary endeavours, I think was just somebody had told him I was from Govan. This year I'm on with Yrsa Sigurdardottir .. if you haven't read her do so ... M R Hall from the tv (The Redeemed, Kavanagh QC amongst others) and John Lawton (Lily of the Field). I'm a big fan of the first two but not so familiar with John's work ... but that's the joy of these festivals you meet people as people ... and then it turns out they are great writers as well.

At the moment I'm trying my first Bryant and May mystery, it was a patient that put me on to them, New Tricks but very good, very funny and very humane, a lovely writer with a light touch an all round good egg ... you see that's what happens when you drive to England listening to Agatha Christie, you end up saying things like 'all round good egg'. Well it's now four and twenty past the hour, I'm going to have a tisane and some devilled eggs ... Not!

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