My Writing Process blog tour

Thanks to friend and fellow-writer Sharon Bidwell for lassoing me and plonking me in the relay race that is the My Writing Process blog tour. I hope I won’t drop the baton half way round.

Q1 What are you currently working on?

I usually have about six things on the go at once, although I don’t physically work on them all at the same time. Currently I’m editing a couple of short stories for submission calls – making sure they fit the guidelines, word count and so on – and actually writing one longer piece. This is a novella partly inspired by a Pink Floyd track, which follows the actions of six or seven different victims of a serial killer, trying to get inside their heads and find out what if anything in their personalities led them to their fate. Light-hearted it ain’t, but I’m hoping it will be something a little different.

Q2 How does my work differ from others in my genre?

Well, there are plenty of crime writers, slightly fewer who concentrate on noir, but I think where I really veer off is that I hardly ever focus on the detective, police officer or other crime-solver, but instead write from the criminals’ point of view. My stories are littered with the has-beens and the “little people”, often challenged or unsuccessful, who make the great criminal world go round without ever really benefiting from it.

On top of that, I weave some fairly dark, “gallows” humour into my stories – think Keystone Cops, Frank Spencer, or (if you want something a little more up to date) the Coen Brothers – yet at the same time all my work has a distinct “Brit-grit” feel to it, which is a fairly unusual combination.

Oh – and then there are the elephants…

Q3 Why do I write what I do?

I’ve always had an interest in what makes people tick, what makes people do the things they do, and go on doing, even if it leads to disaster. I grew up watching the gritty British tv fare of the 70s and 80s – Softly Softly, Z Cars, The Professionals, The Sweeney – so that dark, violence-soaked, rain-soaked, back-alley style of drama is in my blood. And I’ve always enjoyed stories where there is no happy-ever-after, where people veer from one crisis to another or bring about their own very personal downfalls. I guess I’m just weird.

Q4 How does my writing process work?

Quite often, it doesn’t. I can sit and stare at the computer screen for hours, with thoughts jangling round in my head but nothing filtering through with sufficient lucidity to put down on paper. Once I catch hold of the loose thread and give it a tug, though, the ideas unravel, spill out and I can rattle off an entire short story in two days flat. Then I’m back to screen-staring again.

I find it almost impossible to plot, plan or work more methodically. The loose threads come when they will; listing characters or chapter headings in a notebook achieves nothing for me. In fact it can be counter-productive, because if I spend all my creative energy on an outline, I have nothing left to write the actual story. And letting the characters write their own story can lead up some very interesting blind alleys!

Q5 What’s new from you?

webDrag NoirI have a short story coming up in the Drag Noir anthology, edited by K A Laity. This is a serious look at drag in all its manifestations: the masks and disguises that people take on, the things they’re hiding from, the events that cause them to turn to such extreme measures. My own story, ‘Wheel Man’, is set in the gender-obsessed world of car theft, which Stephen Fry recently described as “the last bastion of sexism in British crime”, and examines the lengths one woman is prepared to go to, to keep doing what she loves. The book is due from Fox Spirit in October, but if you can’t wait that long you could do worse than seek out Exiles: An Outsider Anthology from Blackwitch Press, which also contains one of my short stories, ‘Dead Man Walking’. It’s available as either a print or e-book, it’s nice and cheap, and all proceeds go to charity (the Marfan Foundation) so you can donate to a good cause in the process.

And now it’s over to the next sacrifical victim, crime-buff Lucy Cameron, for the next step in the blog tour. Thanks for listening!

Drag Noir cover reveal

Cue music, lights and feather boa. Like a stripper at a high class lap dancing joint, I can now reveal… the cover for the forthcoming ‘Drag Noir’ anthology from Fox Spirit. Like the stripper, it’s worth the wait. Like the stripper, it’s snazzy, stylish, and alluring. Unlike the stripper, it doesn’t promise more than it delivers. In fact, it’s an absolute doozy, as you can see for yourself:

webDrag Noir

The book, a whole collection of stories devoted to men and women wearing a disguise (whether they know it or not), is due in October. If, like the stripper’s customers you can’t wait that long, you can find out more at the Fox Spirit website. The list of contents includes my own short story ‘Wheel Man’, a poignant tale set in the gender-obsessed world of car theft. I get the impression the rest of the collection is going to be every bit as good as the cover, and (like the stripper’s customers) I’m struggling to stay patient too. I’ll have to try not to trip over my high heels and feather boa in the rush.

Cover image (c), by the talented Stephanie Johnson.


Who’s in drag…

Or at least, who will be appearing in the Drag Noir anthology from Fox Spirit, which is due out in July this year. The collection apparently includes “surprises and delights as well as that elusive noir spirit” and involves work by authors from around the world. I’m delighted to be in such good company, and second on the list to boot! You can find a full list of contributors over at the Fox Spirit blog; more details coming soon.

What a drag…

Or not, since I had another short story accepted over the Easter weekend. This time it’s the turn of ‘Wheel Man’ in the forthcoming Drag Noir anthology, edited by Kate Laity, from Fox Spirit.

Set against a backdrop of car theft, recently described by Stephen Fry on quiz show QI as the last bastion of sexism in British crime, ‘Wheel Man’ is a bleak tale describing the lengths one woman is prepared to go to in order to keep the job – and the man – she loves.

I don’t yet have full details (cover art, release date, other contributors) but as soon as I do, I’ll pass them on.

Drag noir

Fellow author Kate Laity has just posted this call for submissions on the theme of drag noir. It’s such an original combination that I’m tempted to have a go, particularly after watching an episode of QI, the quiz show hosted by Stephen Fry, the other night. One of the snippets he let slip about stealing cars, of all things, would be the perfect subject-matter for a black-as-night story.

Of course, first I have to write the thing, and that ain’t easy at this time of year, what with Christmas cards, Christmas shopping, Christmas gift wrapping, Christmas trees to put up and decorate, and Christmas just about everything else. Maybe in the new year, when the glitter dust and pine needles have settled, I can give it a go. Hope so. I’d love to support the cause.