Today we're thrilled to welcome author Simon Mason. Simon joins us as part of his blog tour to talk about writing and Hey, Sherlock! the latest offering in his award-winning Garvie Smith Mysteries series.
A summer storm at night. A missing girl. Vans. A shooting. Fences. A disused garage in the woods. Maths. A storage warehouse out on the ring road. A boy called Garvie Smith with too much attitude and not enough respect. His mother.
I dangled that possibility in my mind, but intentions are, of course, contingent on reality, and various interested (sometimes not-so-interested) parties – i.e. the author, the publisher and, most importantly, the reader – need to agree. Put simply, if people want to go on reading them, I’m more happy to go on writing them.
Yes, but I hid it from myself. Not very effectively, obviously.
Get up early determined to work hard all day. Furiously throw myself into various forms of displacement activity. Fall back exhausted. Drink tea. Read through yesterday’s output. Fall back depressed. Drink tea. Remember to do the laundry. Answer various automated cold calls which politely inform me that: my internet provider is about to disconnect my service; qualified fire-risk assessors are willing for no upfront fee to come and inspect my loft; I can claim compensation for the recent car accident that I was not in; a warrant has been issued for my arrest. Fall back annoyed. Drink tea. Realise that night has fallen. Write.
I don’t find it hard. This is not the same as claiming I do it well. But, for some reason, the story I have in mind always seems to dictate the terms of my engagement with it. A story about an eleven-year-old girl wants to be told one way, the story about a broken-down old drunk another. Of course it would be interesting to swap things round, to write about adult characters and events as if for a young audience, and so on, but it would probably piss people off, and besides I’m very conventional.
Yes. I’m not sure whether this is a good thing or not. See above. For instance, knowledge of the market steers me in a certain direction, pragmatically. But is that the right direction, creatively?
The four Quigleys books. Pure autobiography. When the books appeared, the reviewers enjoyed these ‘tales of hapless parenting.’ My wife was a little pissed off.
In my experience there’s always one character who basically gate-crashes the story. I’ll have given them just a few lines to say, but they talk on and on. They turn up in scenes they have no business being in. They steal the best gags. They prove indispensable in the denouements. It’s very irritating. In the first draft of Hey, Sherlock! Smudge had the tiniest bit part. In the second draft he’s everywhere. (Still, I’ve got to say I like Smudge.)
My tax returns. Also a picture book about a delinquent rat. A crime novel for adults about a trailer-park boy who becomes a rather brilliant detective. A book of interviews with an imaginary twentieth-century English novelist.
So many. I’m a deeply envious reader. At the moment, I’m going through Virginia Woolf. What daring, what intelligence, what a sense of humour! If I found that, in some alternate universe, I had written To the Lighthouse, I’d stand in front of the bathroom mirror and dance around like a drunken donkey.
Read a lot. Doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s always fun.
The great spy novelist Mick Herron has the best advice on his website:
1. Give up.
2. If you ignore that – don’t give up.
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