Monthly Archives: August 2006

Caerleon – a writers’ holiday

I spent a few days towards the end of July teaching at the writers’ holiday at Caerleon. Teaching novel writing is tricky. In the end, the only way to do it is to do it – then read, review and do it again. I worked with a group of about 25 people, and we discussed plot and character development, ways of creating a sense of place, ways of creating tension and general issues that are important to writers. It was a good few days and I enjoyed the classes a lot. I hope the people I was teaching enjoyed it as much as I did.

It reminded me how much I used to enjoy the teaching part of my work as a college lecturer. Even, with the rose-tinted glasses of hindsight, the day-release plumbers who set off the fire extinguishers during coffee break (what do you say when you come back to your classroom and find it awash? Not, if you want to keep your job, the first thing that comes into your mind. You say the second thing which in my case was: Will someone go and get a mop and bucket?)

Anyway, enough dreaming about past glories. There were some very good writers at Caerleon and I expect to see some familiar names in the shortlist for the Debut Dagger in 2007. If you want to find out more, visit the web site at

ZoĆ« Sharp will be teaching the crime fiction course next year – it will be worth doing.

Proof reading or the art of seeing double

I have been working on two manuscripts for the past few weeks, in between going away to Northumberland and to the Writers’ Holiday at Caerleon in Wales (see separate entry).

Bleak Water (a Danuta Reah title) comes out in the US in September as one of the titles in the new imprint Bloody Brits (to launch at Bouchercon). At the same time, I’ve been doing the rewrites for Strangers the new Carla Banks that comes out in January.

It isn’t just two books – it’s two personalities. I’m beginning to realise that Carla writes different books from Danuta, so it’s been confusing to say the least. One of the oddest things about working with proofs is the ‘Did I really say that?’ syndrome. You’re read this manuscript. You’re read it 200 times. And you can still miss the stupidest things.

Anyway, I’ve been correcting the proofs for Bleak Water with my left hand and doing the Strangers rewrites with my right hand and I think they are just about finished. Query: am I going to look at them in a couple of weeks and think ‘Did I really say that?’