This week I went to listen to the crime writer, Iain McDowall, speak at my local library.
Iain then went on to explain how we, as writers, have a vision in our head of the book that we want to get down on paper but very rarely succeed in recreating this perfect vision in words. Therefore many of us have a reluctance to actually start the writing process because of this near impossibility of getting things down on paper exactly as we want them.
I found it a great relief to know that I am not the only one who puts off working on my ideas because I’m scared that they’ll crumble into nothing when I start trying to put them into words.
Iain has been a full-time writer for several years, has published six crime novels and is now working on his seventh.
“Writing for a living is much harder than my previous jobs,” Iain explained. “It’s more stressful and uncertain. I don’t recommend it.”
Iain’s novels centre on the fictional town of Crowby, which is located somewhere in the Midlands. His detectives are Frank Jacobson and Ian Kerr. The crimes that these two men investigate are either real (with the details heavily disguised) or they are crimes that could conceivably happen. Iain doesn’t go in for manic cannibalistic serial killers because he wants his books to be about life as it is. He’d like to think that in years to come his work might offer a window on to the world as it was at the beginning of the 21st century.
Writing crime requires research and in his early days as an author Iain used a contact in the police force to get the information that he needed for his books. He still keeps up to date with new developments in forensic science etc. and much of this is now available on the internet. However, he stressed that very little of his research ends up in his books but it does give him the ability to write confidently.
“I don’t follow police procedure to the letter,” Iain went on. “If I did the book would be very boring because everything would take too long. Sometimes I make the procedure up.”
Iain gave some final words of advice for wannabe authors:
“You should always write for money and treat it like a proper job.”