Monday, 3 March 2014

My writing process

My Writing Process is a series of blog posts in which authors ‘tag’ each other to answer some questions about their work. Thanks to my good friend Bea Davenport, who writes both adult crime/suspense and children's fiction, for inviting me to take part.

What am I working on?
I’m in the very early stages of writing the sequel to my first novel, No Stranger to Death. It’s six months on and my main character, Doctor Zoe Moreland, is still living with the repercussions from events triggered by her discovery of a body in a Guy Fawkes bonfire. The second book opens with Zoe being called out by the police to identify a young Asian man who has apparently been thrown into the River Tweed from the historic chain bridge linking Scotland and England.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Although my books are crime fiction, at their core they’re about relationships, though not simply romantic ones. Friendships are important in real life, especially to women, and I try to reflect that. I loathe the expression ‘amateur sleuth’ but after working in a GP surgery I decided to make my main character a doctor rather than a police officer. GPs deal with people in extremis and hear their innermost secrets. They are also well-placed to interact with the police and other authorities. Perhaps most interestingly, they are bound by confidentiality, which can lead to moral dilemmas and conflict.

Why do I write what I do?
Wearing my other hat, as a professional copywriter I’ve written on subjects I started off knowing nothing about, like care homes for the elderly and school federations. However, when it comes to fiction I can’t imagine writing in genres I don’t read, such as romance. Judging one’s own work is hard enough; I wouldn’t know if it was any good if I had no idea what readers’ expectations are. And having readers enjoy what I write is my primary aim.

How does my writing process work?
I’m a slow and reluctant pantser who starts off with a corpse and wings it from there. I dread being asked that perennial question, ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ because I simply don’t know. I’ve even coined a term to describe the process: imagication.

Thanks for reading about My Writing Process. I’m now passing the baton on to Vivienne Tuffnell, who will blog about her own process next week. Our writing could not be more different, but we’ve got to know each other on Twitter, where her bio describes her as writer, poet, explorer and mystic. Vivienne has written stories her whole life, even before she could actually read, as she explains.

“My father mistakenly allowed me to use his typewriter from an early age and I was hooked. I'm not sure the typewriter survived very long having me bash out strings of letters in the belief that what I had in my head would magically transform into words others can read. I've got better at that.”

Vivienne writes novels, short stories and poetry, and her wonderfully named blog is Zen and the Art of Tightrope Walking.

Photo courtesy of


  1. Excellent post and nice to read about your process. We're both pantsters really, as I don't tend to plan anything either.

  2. I've just realised that your main hero(ine) bears the name of my new cat - Zoe. There must have been some subconscious link at work there...

  3. I'm always amazed by writer who just 'wing it'!!! Especially in a crime novel when all facts have to weave together so accurately - you must have a very ordered mind! Amazing how different we all are - but one thing in which I am in total agreement is that 'where do you get your ideas from?' I haven't a clue, either - they just appear, don't they?!