Just been interviewed by Phil Trow and Michelle Adamson on the Breakfast Show on Radio Manchester about writing and specifically about ‘Line of Duty’ concluding on Sunday.
Now, I’m not a crime writer, but I am riveted to this series (the first of these I have watched by the way!)
Endings. Does a Writer always have the ending in place? For me, yes, but I know others who don’t. I map the story out, but I am also flexible about it. For Crime, I’d say it’s pretty imperative.

If you know the ending, you can lay the clues on the way to it. If you know the ending, you can flow towards it. If you know the ending, it keeps you, the writer, focused. It’s like ‘All roads lead to Rome.’ It helps to know the ending.

The ending mustn’t be by chance. It must make sense. The reader/viewer/listener must feel satisfied. The right end for the characters and the crime. This is what is important, what is right for the characters. And it’s great if people go away and discuss and talk about it.

In a long running series, story lines will overlap. I haven’t seen previous series of Line of Duty and I feel that murder cases are going to link up in the final episode. Is this fair? Should a series be complete in itself?
Maybe because I am more interested in Roz Huntley than who is Balaclava Man, and the crimes and characters have on going lives, then I find this gives added depth. Great plotting.
What do you think?


Looking for Alaska

I’d picked up and read the first page of ‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green (Young Adult novel) and put it down again.

I can’t remember why I did this, maybe because I thought ‘ugh’ another book about school. So, I read several other books.

And on Monday, I was going away for a few days to the Lakes and looked through the pile, wondering which book to take. ‘Oh go on, give ‘Looking for Alaska’ a go.

I finished it in the three days we were there. There was smoking and drinking and talk about sex and some intimate moments in the book – useful to know how these are done in a YA book.

Why did I like it?

1) The sense of humour.

2) I like learning something new when I read a book, I learned about dying people’s last words.

3) I was reminded to give a character some unique trait. Important that one.

4) There was a mystery of sorts at the end. Little flaw, I did guess the key about Alaska near the end. Though I like the ambiguity we were left with.

5) And there was a message, even though as writers we are told not to put a message in. I love a message! Forgive. Forgive ourselves and others.

So I’m glad we went away for a few days because it was wonderful in the Lakes in springtime and it also meant I did read ‘Looking for Alaska.’ Win, win.

PS – sorry if I’ve told you a little bit too much information about the book if you haven’t read it. 🙂Kendal April 2017 011

Beauty in the written word – The Stone Diaries.

I’m reading a lot of Young Adult Fiction at the moment. ‘The Sun is also a Star’ by Nicola Yoon has been one of my favourites so far. It was first published in 2016.
The book I read before this was ‘I Capture the Castle’ by Dodie Smith, first printed in 1949. At the time this wasn’t classified as Young Adult because the term didn’t exist. It has been reprinted by Virago, reclaiming it as a novel for all ages. It became my favourite above ‘The Sun is also a Star.’
This morning, I finished ‘The Stone Diaries’ by Carol Shields. First published in 1993. A novel, not Young Adult.
I like this book the best. ‘The Stone Diaries’ made my heart sing. It has lists, glorious lists, it slips between characters, sliding between their exterior and interior worlds. It has phrases, sublime, mesmerizing phrases that touch your soul. You don’t understand them, but they speak to you. It takes its time, it repeats, it cradled me in another time and place and it taught me things. It makes me want to do things. It made me smile. It showed me truth about the human condition. You could wander through sentences and soak in fragrances and colours and places. I feel different for having read it. It has reinforced the way I want to write. Thank you, ‘The Stone Diaries,’ thank you for not being logical in every phrase but for capturing the essence like an abstract painting. Thank you.

Inspiration and confirmation

I’m reading Young Adult books at the moment as I’m writing a novel aimed at this market. The latest book, which I’ve read before, is ‘I Capture the Castle’ by Dodie Smith. (She wrote 101 Dalmations) I never thought of it as a ‘young adult’ book when I first read it; it was a novel.
Anyway, that is a different discussion to the one that hit me when I read a certain paragraph. I’ve noted three in the book that have specifically given me inspiration and confirmation. I’ll blog about the others on another day.
By the way, Virago have published the book because they believe it is for all ages – which it is.
The section though and this comes after recent discussions with others at SCBWI is about ‘does everything have to make sense in a novel.’ I’ve always argued that I don’t need it to. If a phrase sounds beautiful, then I’m happy for it not to make sense. And I’m happy to get the gist of something rather than it always being spelled out for me. I see fiction as a work of art, not a piece of factual, backed up journalism.
There. Said it.
So, the confirmation when reading something I believe in myself:

I Capture the Castle, page 294 in the Virago copy.

Conversation between Cassandra and her brother Thomas about their father’s writing. How some don’t understand the experimental book he’s written. (Harry is Thomas’ friend)

“And who says you always have to understand things? You can like them without understanding them – like ’em better sometimes. I ought to have known Harry’s father would be no help to us – he’s the kind of man who says he enjoys a good yarn.’


Now I’m off to write something wonderfully nonsensical. On a side note, this goes for people too!