Category Archives: Writing a novel

Can you have a pleasant but misguided protagonist in a Murder Mystery?

I read a great deal of crime, although my choice of reading is an eclectic mix, including historical fiction, humour and even romance to a lesser degree. I prefer romance as a part of life rather than per se.

Sometimes I find the harsh world in much crime fiction difficult to read; the graphic, gory descriptions, the hard language – a world where swearing is in every sentence. My writing isn’t like that, not out of choice but because I can’t be true to myself and be absorbed in a world that is inherently evil at every turn. To write a novel you have to ‘live’ the world you are imagining for months. I could not do that.

So, what inspired me to write a murder mystery?

Ordinary people can be murderers – right or wrong?

I was inspired by an unsolved murder of a young lass from  the island of Jersey back in 1919 in the village nearby where I lived in Bedfordshire. The mystery surrounding her death intrigued me and the more I researched the stronger the ideas formed in my mind of ordinary people being accused of murder ~ how a murderer might be your spouse, your child, your friend or neighbour. They just need a strong enough motive, which may be triggered at any time in life, or it may be a spontaneous act – unpremeditated.

Suspects may have no obvious motive

The next thing that caught my imagination was that people may become suspects even though they have no obvious motive – being in the wrong place at the wrong time or leaving traces at the scene of the crime.

Proving yourself innocent has always been difficult 

It was fun writing two parallel murder mysteries in 1919 and 2019. Weaving the suspects into the plot and linking those from the twentieth century murder to the one in 2019 led to a few sleepless nights ~ although I did solve a few plot twists and turns in my sleep! My interest in family history came into play here.

The sins of the fathers …

Is it difficult for families to shed the shame of a member accused of murder. Is it likely or even possible that the gene which leads a person to murder can be passed on through the generations? I didn’t answer this one, but it was in my mind when writing.

Evil has a way of being found out

Even a century later evil can be uncovered ~ or can it?

Many are hooked on Family Intrigues 

However hard a family may try to suppress its secrets, this intrigue feeds on the curiosity of an individual to find out the truth. This in turn may become an unhealthy obsession.

Now you know what triggered my Murder Mystery. You also know what my writing is not like. If you’d like to find out more then:

MURDER, NOW AND THEN on Kindle

Available on Kindle

‘Murder Now and Then’ will be free on Kindle

from Monday 10th July to Friday 14th July

If you do read it and enjoy it, I would be grateful of you could leave an honest review.

Amazon.co.uk       Amazon.com

Much appreciated,  Diana

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Filed under Bedfordshire, Murder, Murder Now and Then, My books, Planning a novel, Research, Then and Now, Writing a novel

Extracts of ‘Murder Now and Then’ and the dangers of writing in the ‘soon-to-be’ future

3Dcover MNATShould I update my opening scene? What do you think in the light of Brexit and Inderef.

I began my murder mystery ‘Murder Now and Then’ with a prologue to set the scene:

“The Prologue

May 9th 2019

‘I wouldn’t kill my husband. How could you think such a thing?’

Joanna sat on the grey plastic bench, her hands in her lap, absentmindedly tearing tiny pieces from a ball of spent tissue and watching them drift down on to the brown tiles; droplets of tears joining the snow-flaked floor.

Even though Joanna was alone, she could feel the glare of DI Norton boring into her, willing her to confess. How easy it would have been to halt his incessant questioning and say ‘Yes, I did it,’ just to silence him? His voice still lingered in her head.

Numb with the enormity of her situation she closed her eyes and sat in a sleepless trance, her hands now motionless and her mind free–falling in a bottomless void.”

So far so good. The novel brought Joanna’s plight immediately to the attention of the reader. Even though it was set in 2019 the passage was fairly timeless.

Next I set the scene of the murder in 1919 ~ notice the change in style for the historical content:

“May 9th 1919

“Sergeant Major Alfred Donald Keith Regmund appeared before the Bedford Division Bench on Wednesday morning. Crowds waited outside Shire Hall to see the prisoner arrive and depart, which he did in a closed cab. Three or four rows of public gallery were filled, as also was the grand jury gallery.

Mr P D Holmer presided, the other Magistrate being Mr A C Greenachre. Superintendant Patterson went into the witness box and gave evidence as follows.

‘On Tuesday May 13th I arrested the prisoner at Haynes Park. He was conveyed to Bedford. On arrival I charged him on suspicion of murdering a girl, Lucille Vardon at Wilshamstead on 9th May. I cautioned him and he said,

‘I understand my unfortunate position, and your justification for arresting me, but I am innocent, and I shall be able to prove my innocence.’

The prisoner was then remanded until 11.15 am on Tuesday next.” 1

 1Bedfordshire Times and Independent May 30th 1919 (names have been changed)

This was a true unsolved murder. The newspaper cuttings were detailed and explicit. Fascinating!

Then I launch into the novel with the up to date murder, but backtracked to July 2017. Confused? When I wrote this in 2013 it seemed a long time into the future, but I realise now that I fell into a trap of making predictions where history has caught up with me:

“July 2017         Joanna and Bob Thomas at Pear Tree Farm

Joanna, a farmer’s wife of forty two years of age, whose youthful make-up-free complexion was more like that of a woman in her early thirties, looked out of the yellowing UPVC faux Georgian windows of their old farmhouse. She smiled at the sight of the small herd of prize Jersey cattle her husband had purchased when Britain had won back independence from the EU. The cows, she felt, were a symbol of that independence since the little island of Jersey had enjoyed self government for centuries.

Britain and the farmers especially, were enjoying the freedom which some couples experience after the break-up of an unhealthy marriage – that of mutually beneficial friendship, without binding ties. Of course all the countries involved had undergone the pain and bitterness of a difficult and lengthy divorce, with complicated legal proceedings stretching both lawyers and politicians to the limits, but now all of that was behind them. In fact, some said that many nations still in the EU, held a silent respect for the British spirit that was willing to believe that it would be best to go it alone.

Still maintaining brotherly and sisterly links within the former British Isles; England, Scotland, Wales and even Cornwall and the South West now enjoyed their own governing body. For England that had been a great victory and each country had celebrated the occasion in style with street parties, the likes of which had not been witnessed since the dear Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee back in 2012. Ireland too now held three councils, one in the north, one in the south and a further umbrella council. This worked much like the Parliament in London had done in the past; a matriarch overseeing the British Isles as a whole.”

Well there you have it. I now have  dilemma. Mind you, parts of the predictions were almost true. The timing was awry though.

What shall I do about it? What do you think? Should I update my kindle version or not. I’d love to hear your opinion on the matter.

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Murder, Murder Now and Then, My books, Writing a novel

Cross Genre, #Memoir, #Travel, #Motivational and Inspirational, #History ~ Why?

DSCN2797[1]Dear reader and writer

I posted a tweet about a week ago “Soon to be announced – launch of my Fantasy. It’s a bit of everything , .”

It may have been a coincidence but a day later there was a post on a blog I admire and subscribe to The Book Designer:

Thinking about writing on multiple genres – here’s what you need to know

Firstly – an agent and publisher does not know where to place it ~ or is to self publish best

I must admit that it has crossed my mind as to where bookshops would place my new book, and it is that market which I hope to tap into, as well as Amazon, but I reasoned that it was more a ‘gift book section’ since it is inspirational and motivational. OK – got it, but I am self publishing, or publishing through a small indie press, Eventispress, run by local authors.

Secondly writing what you are moved to write is not always the most productive for marketing purposes.

Will my current readers stay with me? Should I stick to the same genre  to be consistent and build up an audience. Yes, there is lots of sense in this but circumstances have meant that I have altered course. I will write this more fully on another blog post. Whether I am right to veer in different directions I’m not sure. I could give all sorts of arguments ~ this was a book I needed to write, I was so inspired by my surroundings that I could not help myself, I was grappling with ‘who I am’ and this just felt the right direction to go in and I’m thrilled with the result…

Thirdly I’ve not been true to my author brand.

I hold my hand up here. I’m not very good at marketing in a logical way. I know I should be more business like about writing but if I failed to enjoy what I do then I would give up. 

.Specialisation is one key to success.

I must argue that there is one theme running through all of my novels and books and that is my love of social history. If I visit a place the first thing I do is read about its past and its people. ‘Riduna’ and ‘Ancasta’ are historical romantic fiction. Norman’s memoir is of course history too – 103 years of it! Then ‘Murder Now and Then’ was inspired by an unsolved murder one hundred years ago and finally, ‘From Redundancy to Rejuvenation’ is inspired by many folks through the ages who either lived in or visited Fife. In fact I ‘met’ them as I walked along the Fife Coastal Path. They were fascinating characters.

Branding is more than genre, it is style, characterisation and voice

Yes, I believe that the characters in ‘From Redundancy to Rejuvenation’ are as true to my style as any of my novels ~ more so since the book is in part a personal memoir. My writing reaches from the depth of my soul in a way which I have not really experienced since writing ‘Riduna’ ~ that’s because it was written at a time of ‘soul searching’ and my encounters were as real to me as Harriet and her family in my Riduna Series, who have lived with me for about fifteen years now. It is truly my own voice.

I will finish with this wonderful quote from The Book Designer.

“But ultimately, your goal is to link your name to an organic and dynamic brand that’s based on you and arouses a positive, emotional experience for your targeted readership–regardless of genre. yes!!

By doing so, you can tie a common thread between all genres you choose to explore.”

I could not have put it better myself ~ beautifully written. I recommend reading the whole post for anyone interested in exploring different genre, or multiple genres. 

‘From Redundancy to Rejuvenation ~ A Writer’s Fantasy Walk Along The Fife Coastal Path’ is now available as a paperback on Amazon.

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Filed under Events, Fife Fantasy, From redundancy to Rejuvenation, Writing, Writing a novel