Monday, October 05, 2015

Crime Writing Observed.

 I've blogged for years now about being a crime writer - my experiences, my habits, my problems.  Today I thought it would be rather refreshing to see the writer's life from a different perspective, so here are my  husband's observations on crime writers, as seen from the outside!

Ian writes:

I have never written a blog before, perhaps because I am not a writer. I am however, married to one and I have observed one at work for many years and also been lucky enough to meet a large number of others. So perhaps I am qualified to make a few observations – crime writers are my speciality!

The first striking fact is that many, perhaps most, writers don’t do it because they want to; they do it because they must. My own particular writer has been writing in one way or another since she was six and quite simply could not chose not to write and be happy (choosing to be published is a whole other discussion); it is perhaps like being a creative musician or artist, it is quite simply an integral part of their being.

I am by now an experienced hanger-on at conferences and literary events and have therefore met and talked to many crime writers who are almost, but not quite, always interesting and extremely nice.

They clearly work in all sorts of different ways, some, like my author, will say almost nothing about a book while it is being written, partly for fear of having a line of thought interrupted or, worse still, corrupted. At the other extreme, I know of one well known crime writer who reads his books aloud to his wife whilst they are in the process of being written and takes on board suggestions.

Although crime writers really are a nice lot, they all have a capacity to talk of death, corpses and the human tragedy that goes with it in the most clinical and dispassionate terms. And writing is a tough and demanding business; without exception, authors will tell you how much they enjoy the research they do and will usually admit that they are inclined to prolong it unnecessarily just to delay the time when they actually have to start writing.

The other thing authors all have in common is that they inhabit two quite distinct worlds. There is the everyday one where they relate to other people but there is another one altogether peopled by their characters who talk to them and come up with twists in what they thought was going to be the plot. In our case, many a long car journey has been spent in companionable silence while I drove and my wife was somewhere else entirely!

Finally, take it from me from first hand observation, it is very, very hard work.


Rick Blechta said...

Thanks for chipping in, Ian. We writers sometimes get to caught up with our own condition and don't stop to think about what observers, well, observe. Interesting thoughts.

Sybil Johnson said...

What a great post, Ian. Now I must ask my husband what he would say...

Donis Casey said...

I had the same thought, Sybil. My husband should have a conversation with Ian.

Aline Templeton said...

Thanks for the comments; living with a writer is always interesting and I rather enjoy the reflected glory!
Happy to correspond with anyone at

Aline Templeton said...

My husband's comment came out under my heading. But I think we're on to something here - would love to hear more from husbands and wives of other writers.