For the past year, I have, in my other identity, been the Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, and it’s been a pretty tough year. Amazingly, I managed to write a book – it’s finished and it’s with my editor now. I’m just waiting for her ‘few little tweaks’.
The book is called Strangers and it’s set in the ex-pat community in Saudi Arabia. I wanted to write about that, because it’s such a closed society – you can live there for years and still know very little about it. And I wanted to write about a society that was under pressure. The ex-pats live all the time in the shadow of the terrorist threat. While I was writing the book, western ex-pats were attacked in al Khobar. A man was killed and his body was dragged through the town behind a car, followed by a triumphant mob. The Saudis live with the constant pressure for change – criticism from western governments, pressure from their own people, both pulling in different directions. No one really knows who anyone is – all strangers. I opened the book with an execution in Riyadh, and thousands of miles away, a death by drowning in London. The connection? When I wrote that opening, I didn’t know.
So just now I’m just waiting for my editor’s ‘few little tweaks’ (Ha!), and in the meantime I’m putting together a short story for an anthology, writing a ‘for fun’ book about vampires, and trying to get my head around the next book (I want to set part of it in Lodz, in the university…. I think that a terrible crime has been committed, and hasn’t yet come to light, but part of the aftermath…anyway, that’s for later).
Next posting, I’m going to address the translations issue. I was Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association when we decided to take translated books out of the Gold (now the Duncan Lawrie) Dagger, a decision that has been criticised (fair enough) and misunderstood. So watch this space.