Monthly Archives: July 2005

Being a Chair

This year, I’m the Chairperson the Crime Writers Association (the CWA). It’s going to be a busy year, becasue I am also working for Edexcel, developing a new and interestingly innovative course for them. (We know we’re on the right lines, because the Prince of Wales has called it ‘an abomination’). As well as that, I am going to a Forensic Linguistics conference in Lodz in September – I am beginning to think around a character who is a forensic linguist, whose work is to look at the language of a crime and interpet that. I don’t know much about her yet, but I hope to soon.

The big event of the CWA year is the Awards lunch in November. This takes a lot of organisation and planning – there are plenty of people working on it, but any disasters will be my responsibility – so it’s a big deal. I’ll be able to breathe after 8th November – but I am flying to Australia on the 9th – twenty four hours of flying with a two hour break in Hong Kong. I’ll be seeing my niece and nephew for the first time – Joanna will be seven by then, and Nick is three. It seems terrible that I haven’t seen them before, but it’s hard to find the time to make such an extended journey.

I hope to have ‘Strangers’ finished by then. With a bit of luck, it will be with my editor, and then I can come back and get down to the rewrites. There are characters I will be sad to say goodbye to, particularly Damien, and Roisin. Maybe I should do what most crime writers do, and develop a series character. Maybe my forensic linguist would be the person. Watch this space.

Fiction and reality

A problem a lot of writers have is the way in which fiction and reality can interact. You can be working on something, and find that the real world has not only caught up with you, but gone beyond anything you, as a writer, had felt able to consider.

The book I am currently working on has events set in the Middle East. A problem with writing books set in such volatile areas is that changes occur so rapidly, your book can be out of date before it’s written.

But the situation of westerers living in the Middle East is fascinating, as is the view that two sharply divided cultural groups have of each other. Many Saudi women, for example, want change in their lives, but become very angry at the downtrodden stereotype that their western counterparts have of them. Saudi women work, some of them hold down high level jobs. They are politically savvy and know what they want – and it isn’t us telling them what to do.

Western women – in the Saudi stereotype – are given to drink, promiscuous behaviour, drugs and revealing clothes. We lose our virginity at the age of twelve, are just as downtrodden as Saudi women – no more, no less. And we are thrown onto our own devices as we have no one who will take care of us.

The book I’m working on is called Strangers. (The title may change – publishers have their own ideas) but this is what it’s about. As the world get smaller, we’re all strangers in places that have, paradoxically, come closer.