Diary of a Newbie Novelist
April 9, 2012 Diary of a Newbie Novelist
This week I watched ‘Top Gear’ for the first time. If you aren’t familiar, it’s a group of three rather hot headed, out spoken chaps who talk and review cars. Now, I know nothing about cars – the only appeal for me is that my chugga boom gets me around without breaking. If you bought a new car, I’d probably ask you the colour then quickly lose interest. But there is a section in my new book that demanded some background knowledge, so I watched a couple of full episodes before ploughing through YouTube snippets until my appetite was sated. I’ll admit to a mild fascination in some places and a couple of belly laughs, but have to apologise to all car enthusiasts out there; I don’t think I’ll be a convert.
It’s interesting what directions book research takes. For An Unfamiliar Murder fire, research led me to a wonderful meeting with the former Chief of Northants Fire Service who explained how the structure of our old terraced properties work in the UK, the role of accelerants, and their fire procedures. It only converted to a couple of lines in the novel, but was fascinating all the same.
Recently, I met up with a former Detective Superintendent, who managed murder squads all over the UK during his 30 year career. I wasn’t sure what to expect. This is a man who has held one of the most demanding, responsible and challenging jobs in the police service, managed hostage negotiations, kidnap cases, homicides…
The man who joined me in Costa’s for a latte can only be described as a gentle, quietly spoken character. However, as the conversation progressed, I could see the passion for the job behind his eyes, the thrill of the chase, the elation when they catch their villain. The hours worked are impressive, the pressure immense – a wrong decision, a case handled badly, and he not only risks his own reputation, but the wider force and the police nationally. Boy, he had some interesting tales to tell…
I’ve always been a huge fan of studying, a perennial student, taking many courses over the years, just for the hell of it. As a newbie, I’ve found the role of research in writing fiction invaluable; I’d never claim to be factually correct, but a little background information does help to get those words flowing. Sometimes, it’s just for a line, occasionally I have to change tack and edit it out, but it’s all in the thrill of the ride.
Jane Isaac’s first novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, is out on Amazon.com, Amazon.uk and Kindle worldwide now. Jane is still very much a Newbie and with a day job, a family and a very demanding black Labrador, she squeezes her writing into every spare moment she gets. You can catch up with her at www.janeisaac.co.uk