As my husband returns to work and our lives resume some kind of normality, my mind is turning back to my third book.
There is a strange, almost nostalgic pleasure in character traits entering my mind at passive moments, plotlines swirling around when I’m driving; settings jostling amongst my brain cells, crying out to be considered as I watch my daughter in swim class.
However as I pulled my script (which represents the first few sketchy chapters) onto the screen, the degree of work involved into researching, creating, writing dropped me like a stone. It’s been three months since I penned a page, scratched my head and rubbed my chin (and there’s usually of lot of the latter involved). Can I still do it? I have a basic outline, a skeleton if you like for another story, but there is an awful lot of flesh to put on those bones. What if I can’t write those words, or the characters or plots aren’t engaging enough?
I started by reading through my opening chapters. Yes, they certainly need a lot of work. But I could almost see the magic of the storyline sitting beneath. All I need to do is extract that and I’m away… Hmmm. Wrong. There is something else.
Before I can immerse myself in writing this book I need to deal with the tonne of research required. So, I spent several days reading and adding to my character profiles to enable me to get to know them again and make them feel real. One sunny afternoon, my neighbour glanced over the fence and smiled at me as I sat on my patio furiously reading. “Oh, how relaxing to sit and read in the sunshine. Good for you,” she said. What she didn’t realise was that I was reading a book called ‘Talking with Serial Killers’, part of my research into my antagonist – not exactly light or relaxing reading! But it needs to be done, all the same.
I also realised I needed to leap over the hurdles presented by all the police procedural research. I kick started this by meeting a retired Detective Superintendent this week, who has managed high profile murder investigations and kidnappings all over the country. After an interesting lunch spent chatting through the finer details, not to mention enjoying his pleasant company, I went away feeling very inspired.
There is still a lot more work to be done before I can start putting pen to page: more interviews to be conducted, more books to be read, more research to be undertaken. I need to return to my setting of Stratford Upon Avon, take more photographs and speak to local people. But I remembered that these are the things I love about writing books – all the people you meet, the facts you learn, the new experiences – some of which find their merry way into your work, others just to be enjoyed in the moment. And those butterflies of excitement are returning. Finally, I’m back in the game and it feels good.