This year I haven’t read as many books as I would like. My excuse? Not enough time.
When I read as a child I devoured books. 1, 2, 3 a week.Agatha Christie, slushy romance, Doctor Who novelisation. Didn’t matter. All that stopped me reading was an absence of pocket money. I was a bookworm. Out and Proud.
Now? it takes forever.
A twitterer asked me what was I reading? The answer came easily enough: Europe in Winter. It’s brilliant.
They then asked what’s next? The honest answer? Buggered if I know. The book came out in November. I’m on page 99.
So, what has caused this malady? Because it’s not the book’s fault. It’s bloody brilliant!!
My commute to work has got longer. What took an hour and 10, now regularly takes an hour and a half. Whist the return journey.is up from an hour and 20 to … 2hours!!
Sheer volume of traffic is to blame. But it is leaving me too knackered to read. Unlike those halcyon days of childhood, when I could read a book all night; now I either drop off or I’m a zombie.the next day. It’s hell! I feel a traitor to myself and to my fellow bookworms. I fear being black balled from the Worshipful Company of Bookworms.
Things needed to change. FAST!
Last night I had an email from Amazon. I had 8 audible credits. Salvation.
Within ten minutes I had selected.4 Lindsey Davis Falcos and 4 Sansom Shardlakes. The Falcos are old favourites. 2 of the Shardlakes are new.
It might not be reading in a traditional sense but that’s a book every couple of days. Surely that has to be better than the current famine?
I have another credit in January. I’m taking suggestions.
A gentleman’s gentleman:
Is up before his master, and goes to bed after him; even when told “not to wait up”.
Is fastidiously neat and tidy in his appearance and habits. He ensures his employer is immaculately turned out – at all times. Even if His Lordship desires to look like a sack of potatoes. He must be a sack of potatoes Fortnum and Masons would stock.
Never gets involved in an argument – however tempting. A raise eyebrow, a stare, even a cough should be sufficient communication when His Lordship oversteps the mark.
Is the soul of discretion. He never comments on any aspect of His Lordship’s personal life; even if the latest fancy piece is a lying, manipulative tart out to break hearts. It is not a gentleman’s gentlemn’s place to say: “I told you so.” Even if he is dying to stick his oar in.
To learn more about William Sampson and his Lordship click here
“Tell us about Byrd,” my publisher said. Only having the one publisher I have often wondered whether they all talk in the third person, or this is something peculiar to mine. “And be snappy about it.” I was touting him an idea for a new detective on the block, and knew, by that tone of voice, I only had a few minutes. I took a deep breath and began…
- His parents died while he was a young child and he was brought up by his Grandfather, a welsh duke.
- He speaks eight languages – including hindi and arabic.
- He was bullied in school and became the school clown in order to survive
- He served in the Derbyshire Regiment in India, saw action in Sikkim; and left the army as a major.
- Something happened in Sikkim. Something life changing. He doesn’t talk about it. Ever.
- He has an eye for a pretty woman – or three. Or four.
- He lives in an appartment in Mayfair, presided over by Sampson with regimental precision.
- His best friend is the Prince of Wales. Rumour has it Byrd saved the Prince’s life. Rumour lied.
- His staff – valet (Sampson), driver (Watkins), and cook (Imran)- were under his command in India. They are very loyal and would do anything for him. Don’t ask them about Sikkim, they won’t tell you.
- He holds degrees in medicine and law, which he took on return from India.
Want to know more? Go to Amazon and buy his first adventure
Having moved into the realm of crime fiction, I thought I’d put down a few things that made plotting A Cowardice of Crows easier than it could have been. Because – to be honest – murder is harder to keep an eye on than time travel…
- Work backwards. I.E know how it was done, who did it, where and why and then seed the rest of the story from there. I wrote the reveal before the last few chapters, as I needed to work out exactly who did what to whom.
- Let the audience work it out for themselves/ or give them the opportunity to realise who the murderer has to be. Even if they don’t get it at the same time as the detective, they should be able to go AHH not omfg. I tried to make one of my murderers obvious, and the other less so… hopefully it’s worked.
- Ensure you have clues – subtly worked into the story. These clues can be red herrings. In Crows the red herrings went in before the real clues.
- Ensure you have a flawed detective. They have to be very intelligent, very eccentric and the murderer has to underestimate them. Byrd’s flaw is … ahh now, that would be telling; let’s just say he’s got an eye for a pretty face.
- Every good detective needs a side kick. Solid reliable, dependable and all the things our hero is not. In Sampson Byrd has loyalty and in his cousin he has solidity. Both the perfect foils to Byrd’s whimsical nature.
- Oh and of course! Suspects! You’ve got to have suspect
Not met Byrd yet? click here to go to amazon and see if I’ve taken my own advice