Saturday 28 February 2015

What if...

A question commonly posed to authors is: ‘How do you start writing a novel?’ This is often followed by questions such as: 'Where do you find your inspiration?' and 'How do you develop your characters?' These are questions I am frequently asked. With eight books out in the shops and the ninth one out this May, the source for my ideas hasn't changed. It can be expressed in two short words:  ‘What if?’

Although my narratives are flights of fancy, I present scenarios that could conceivably happen to anyone. What if your flatmate was a serial killer? What if your boss liked to commit murder in his or her spare time? I think the more credible a story is, the more frightening it becomes, so I make my narratives as authentic as possible, while doing my best to maintain the suspense readers expect from the crime genre. This is why I try to keep the police procedure in my books reasonably accurate. My fans in the police force are very forgiving, allowing fiction a little dramatic licence where the story demands it. So my Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel spends less time behind a desk working on budgets and expenses claims than might happen in real life, and more time viewing crime scenes and chasing after criminals.

Killer Plan opens with one of these ‘what if’ scenarios - a seemingly innocuous meeting. Caroline is sitting on a bench in the park watching her young sons play football. Her husband is at home, preparing to mow the grass. It's a quiet scene of everyday life… until Caroline inadvertently invites another character to tear her world apart.

Have you ever unknowingly met a killer in the park…?