Monday, 15 February 2010

Pauline Rowson's Blog - Part One

Featured in the current cycle of Exclusively Independent is Pauline Rowson's Deadly Waters (Fathom - Rowmark).

Over the next two days, I'll be posting up a piece that Pauline has written purely for the site. Not only does the piece provide a fantastic insight into crime writing as a whole, but Pauline also describes the inspiration behind her work, and also how she feels upon each novel's completion.

What makes a good crime novel?

Ask this question of crime fiction fans and you'll get varied answers. Some like the gritty gruesome, others prefer cozy comfortable. Some enjoy a literary style crime novel, others a racy, action-packed page turner. Reading about exotic locations turns some readers on whilst others enjoy 'home spun' tales. Then there's historical or contemporary, detective or private eye, male protagonist or female... But all crime fiction fans will agree they want great, believable characters and a cracking good plot. Saying this is easy, writing and delivering it time and time again is more difficult. But then that's the challenge and the enjoyment of writing.

Creating and developing a complex main character that the reader can have empathy with is vitally important. The reader must want to trust the hero or heroine, feel his/her pain and disappointments and root for him/her throughout the novel. And it's not just the main character but the supporting cast, the villains and the walk-on roles that all need characteristics that are believable even if they are eccentric. The cast must be real to the writer and therefore they will be real to the reader.

When I first started writing fiction I wrote from the female character's point of view but often found myself wanting to switch to the male point of view. It wasn't until I started writing
Tide of Death and introduced Inspector Andy Horton that I found my 'voice' as they call it in writing parlance. Once I started writing from the male point of view everything began to fall into place. I also found I preferred to write from the single person point of view, which means you follow the story through the eyes of Andy Horton in my marine mystery crime novels and through Adam Greene in my thriller, In Cold Daylight and Alex Albury in In For The Kill. When people ask me why I write from the male character's point of view I often joke that maybe it's because I’m a closet man. But seriously, I don’t know and I don't think it matters, it's just the way I write and if people enjoy it - great!

Where do you get your ideas from?

Ideas for novels come from a variety of sources: overheard conversations, stories relayed by others, personal experience, locations and the news. The idea for In Cold Daylight came from an overheard conversation in the fire station where my husband was a fire-fighter. In For The Kill was sparked by a visit to the Isle of Wight and seeing the signs for the prisons. Tide of Death, The Suffocating Sea, Deadly Waters and Dead Man’s Wharf are all inspired by locations around the coast of Portsmouth, Hayling Island and the Solent, where these novels are set.

From the basic idea I ask myself a series of open questions, for example in Deadly Waters, a woman’s body is discovered on an abandoned Mulberry in the middle of Langstone Harbour. Who is she? How did she get there? How was she killed? When and by whom? Why would someone want to kill her? Money is found wrapped up in honey in her pocket–why? What can it mean? It's only by continually asking open questions such as who, what, where, when, how and why can I begin to flesh out the characters, the theme and the plot. Sometimes I run down blind alleys, sometimes one idea or question sparks another.

Have a look tomorrow to read more from Pauline.


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