Monday, September 28, 2020

Hi, my name is Douglas and I am a crime writer.

As this is my first post here on Type M for Murder I thought I'd set out my bona fides from the start.

I've been labouring at the coalface of crime writing for many, many...OMG - MANY...years. Setting aside being a crime reporter in the weekly press in Glasgow (I was also film reviewer, inputter and tea maker on occasion), I've been writing about mayhem in book form since the early 90s.

I began with true crime, including investigating and then co-writing a book that exposed a notorious miscarriage of justice here in Scotland. I produced 11 non-fiction works before I made the leap into fiction in 2013. Some police officers said that I had been writing fiction for years.

Since then I've had nine novels published, with a tenth coming out here in the UK next spring.

My Rebecca Connolly books have been sold into the US, with the second - THE BLOOD IS STILL - heading across the Atlantic in January 2021 (ArcadeCrimewise).

The point of all this ego stroking is to show that I am not a freshman. I've been at this game for quite some time.

But here's the thing - it doesn't get any easier.

In fact, for some reason, I find it gets more difficult.

I am currently in a staring competition with the first draft of a new work. And that first draft of a new work is winning.

The little cursor blinks at me in what I now see as a contemptuous manner. You think you've got what it takes, pal, it says. But you don't have what it takes. 

Yes, in my mind it talks like a screen tough guy.

You got nothing...

I listen in awe as other writers say that they sit down and hammer out thousands of words a day without as much as breaking a sweat. Words used to flow as easily with me as a politician's promises but these days it's like hacking granite with a spoon. And a blunt one at that.

You lost it, boy...

I often wonder if I would get on better if I was a plotter, although I do end up reminding myself the only time I tried planning a new book I diverted from it so wildly when actually writing that the time spent plotting was wasted.

There is a side of me that seems to delight in not knowing where on earth I am going with a story. I'm not very fond of that side because it does seem to enjoy punishment. I feel it would be better served visiting a leather-clad Amazon called Madame Whiplash sporting an array of props of a very specific nature.

I am, by nature, a seat-of-the-pants writer. I bumble my way through a first draft then spend subsequent drafts finding the book somewhere in the mumble of words, ideas and characters. In the process some of those words, ideas and characters will change, go, be replaced, be stored away for possible future use.

You can't take me on...

One of my novels, The Dead Don't Boogie, was written with such a speed that, to paraphrase Neil Simon's line in 'Chapter Two', I'd reached about 40,000 words before I'd thought a story. I had to stop, step away from the keyboard and go for a long walk with the dog to see if I could come up with a reason why a wide variety people were pursuing a young woman in Glasgow and beyond.

I've tried that with this one but I'm coming up wanting.

Here's the thing though - I have been here before. And I will be here again. I will beat that darned blinking, sneering little cursor.

Come ahead, buddy, if you think you're tough enough...

Cover me - I'm going in...


Susan D said...

Welcome, Douglas. I'm looking forward to seeing your posts every other week

Johnny steele said...

One of his earlier books "FRIHTENER" is based on a "true" story about one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in Scotland. He exposes a corrupt Police force - the Serious Glasgow Crime Squad for their "framing up of Two innocent men for murders six members of one Family.Douglas is thorough in his investigation of the corruption ofthose responsible including the Crown and the Media.Douglas Skelton'work and findings helped bring about the Two "innocent" men have their conviction being "overturned" by Three High Court Appeal Judges.Douglas If Skelton had been a Gangster, then he would have been a formidable contender,but He is not.He is a writer with one of the most powerful Weapons known to man - the pen...and He has learned to use it like the Pro that He is. Highly recommend read.

Rick Blechta said...

I've already said it to you privately and in print, but it bears saying again: Welcome, Douglas! Looking forward to your next post.