Monday, 7 September 2009

Interview, article and fun

This is an extremely lazy blog (but what else would you expect of me? I've already insisted frequently that I'm sloth personified.) It's just that I did an interview with and a short article for Linda Faulkner a while back and she's now published them at


I suppose I could simply copy the content here but, since the initiative was Linda's, it's right that they should be read on her site. (See? What a combination - indolence and integrity.)

But I will add a little anecdote about yesterday. It's one of those writing things that happen which has a distinct feelgood aspect to it.

I gave a talk to a 'discussion group' here in Aberdeen. About two dozen women d'un certain âge (and mostly older than that). I talked about my books, various things about being a writer. Then, for the last 10 minutes, I got them to create a couple of imaginary characters and tell me about the links between them. At first they insisted they couldn't do that, they weren't authors like me. So I just got them to give me a couple of names, then asked them ‘What’s he look like? Where does he work? Is he married?’ Etc., etc.

20 minutes later, they were still adding details to their portrait of a couple. First there was Jack Smith, a paunchy, 50 year old bus driver who'd been jilted by a girl way back and didn't trust women. Jack was dissatisfied with his life and had unspecified urges. The woman was one of his passengers, Betty Sinclair, 40 and single because her first and only lover had been killed. Their eyes met in his rear view mirror and that was it for both of them. But then his nephew, a 20 year old student at the university who worked at B and Q 3 days a week, came into the picture ... And we had to leave because the janitor kicked us out. It was great fun and they were all surprised to find themselves capable of imagining it all. As we all left, they were walking out in twos and threes, all developing their versions of what happened next. The important point was that I'd contributed nothing to the creation of the characters - everything had come from them. It was great fun.


  1. Do you ever come near London/Herts with your talks? I would love to attend something like that.

  2. I haven't given any talks down there yet. Most of them are in Scotland but I visit my son and daughter who live down there quite often. If ever I get an invitation, I'll certainly let you know. The workshop I like giving most is one in which I get the group to make up their own crime story in about an hour. I guide them with questions, but all the content comes from them. It's very enjoyable.

    But thank you again, Scary, for the vote of confidence.

  3. Bill, you've just received the Kreativ Blogger Award at Mysterious People. Read the rules and pass the award on to seven deserving blogggers. :)

  4. Jean, thank you so much for that. But Linda beat you to it. I'm not sure if you're allowed more than one. You were among my own nominees then.

  5. Sounds a great talk. I wish you could come and talk to our writing group. Anyway, I'm glass Jean listed you in her list so I could find your blog.

  6. Thanks Sheila. Well, all you have to do is pay my fare from Scotland, arrange accommodation, plus meals in upmarket restaurants, a supply of expensive wines, an all expenses paid tour of Oregon with maybe excursions to a few other states - Alaska, Louisiana, places like that. And we can negotiate a relatively reasonable fee.

  7. Bill, I did a exercise like that in my "Let's Write a Mystery" workshop at a local writers' conference. It turned out to be a lot more fun and interesting than I had imagined.

  8. I find the same thing, Patricia. I run a similar workshop called 'A Crime Story in an Hour'. It's exactly the same principle as the 'create a character' exercise but with a few more ingredients. You're right, it's always interesting. And, as you've no doubt found too, it's never the same so you rarely get a feeling of déjà vu.

  9. I just hate that you don't blog more, I guess it's the indolent thing. Seriously, I'm looking forward FINALLY to reading Material Evidence which FINALLY arrived yesterday. It's not a reflection on you that I haven't started it. The US Open Semifinals...

    Do you do the workshop online or in person? I might have to take a detour to Scotland to attend.

  10. Bill,
    Sorry to be asking this, I know we discussed writing courses in general...But if you were to pick one which one would it be? for example, I have found this
    ( and it sounded so you have any opinion on this school or the teacher/he seems to be in a similar field to you? If you know of this, and could advise me whether this is a good option at all...please do let me know. You can contact me on my email if it is so bad you want to keep it private. LOL
    My email is on my google profile.
    Thanks so much,

  11. Scary, I have mixed attitudes to writing courses and I don't know enough about them to make any recommendations. I looked at the LSJ site - it seems to cover the main areas that would be of interest and I'm sure that any tutor they choose would be good at what he/she does, but I don't know enough about it to say much more. When I get back home, I'll get in touch via email as you suggest and try to give you a more considered response.

  12. Thanks, Bill...
    I agree with every word you said on Gary's blog about writing courses, etc. It is just that some of it sounded fun...and just meeting like-minded people sounded good too. I know £300 is not that much money, but hey it is money, plus I would hate to waste my time going somewhere completely useless. :) It would annoy the hell out of me!