Sunday, 30 June 2013

Why I write Crime Fiction

This first appeared as a Guest post on ShazsBookBlog.

I didn’t know I was going to be a Crime writer. It rather crept up on me.

Image: Microsoft
After flitting through various admin jobs in my adult life, I qualified as a Psychotherapist/Counsellor in London and ran a private practice for over 15 years. As an hardened Introvert myself, I’m intrigued by people’s inner-worlds, the place inside their heads where they reflect, plan, analyse. Having access to people’s deepest thoughts as a therapist – the inner worlds they largely keep hidden from even their closest friends – has been enthralling, challenging and deeply moving. Through my practice, I got to work with ex-offenders from high-security institutions, such as Broadmoor and Rampton Hospitals, coming face to face with the criminal mind. Invariably, though, I came away feeling more sad, than disturbed by these encounters.

Image: Microsoft
I found that a large number of those individuals who end up committing terrible crimes felt they had absolutely no way out of their untenable situations (poverty, drug-addiction, domestic abuse etc) and lashed out as a last resort. They were protecting their kids, in some cases. Many of them ended up self-harming and most of them hadn’t committed ‘calculated’ crimes, although there are always a number of wayward psychopaths out there on the loose. 

These exclusive experiences provide fine fodder for a crime fiction writer - but I never thought I could write. My self-help books are published, but the idea of writing a novel seemed beyond me. How could anyone possibly sustain a story for that many pages? I loved the idea of it – but decided ‘proper’ writers had something I didn’t.

That all changed when I read Stephen King’s book On Writing. He talks about starting with ‘an incident’ and then says the focus must be on just getting the story down. I set out to write 2,500 words at first and couldn’t stop. In a few months, I had a novel (not very well plotted, I admit, but it got me a London Agent). Sadly, the book didn’t sell, so I was forced to move on. Fortunately, because I was completely smitten with writing by then, I’d written three more. I submitted the next two and was extremely relieved to be offered presentation again by another top Agent. We’ve now got book deals in France and Germany and the books are out this week in the UK.

Due to my experiences and knowledge of Psychotherapy, my books are Psychological Thrillers. I love secrets, hidden motives, locked rooms and anything tucked under floorboards. I love writing about unusual psychological disorders or about ordinary, sane individuals who make one drastic mistake after another, leading them down the slippery slope to murder. What is most compelling is that these killers could be the man next-door - or perhaps even you or I.  

The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train are available now on Amazon as paperbacks and ebooks.