It’s always the first question new friends ask an author and I have never felt able to give a satisfactory answer.The thing is, most of my books don’t fit into any one obvious genre.
My stories mostly have supernatural or
science fiction elements, but even so, they range
over a variety of topics. When I published my first book of short stories, “Take One at Bedtime”, reviewers wanted to know why they didn’t have a common theme. Only one spotted that it did have a theme and that theme was revenge. It’s not exactly a genre, though, is it?
Of my novels to date:
“Domingo’s Angel” is a romance, but also historical fiction, about how one small mountain village lived through the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s fascist regime.
“All in the Mind” is a story about an old woman who progressively gets
younger. It won a science fiction award, but it’s not just science fiction – a great deal of it is about life during the Second World War in England, with a deviation into what it is like for ethnic Indian people in England and in modern day India.
“The Owl Goddess” is a re-writing of the Greek myths according to von Däniken’s theory that the gods were spacemen. Is it science fiction, or fantasy? Both perhaps.
And finally “The Cottage at the End of the World is a dystopian
vision of how a small group of people on an isolated farm survive COVID and the collapse of civilization after the onset of a second, very different plague.
None of them bear much relation to each other and what is perhaps even more surprising and rather odd is that none of them are in the genre which I most enjoy reading myself – detective fiction.
I’ve often wondered why, when I read so many, I have never had an idea for writing one.
Until now, that is . . .
To be fair, “A Gift for Murder” began as a short horror story. I can’t tell you what it would have been because the main scenario is the climax to the novel and if I told you it would be, in effect, a spoiler and I would have to kill you.
What happened was that the night I had the idea for the story, I had a dream of a hand floating in water and I woke up wondering how on earth it got there. What kind of a person would cut off someone’s hand and throw it in the river?
I imagined someone finding it and what their reaction would be – and that’s the point at which the story started writing itself and I could more or less sit back and let it get on with it.
It has turned out to be the longest book I have ever written and I loved writing it. My other obsession is with logic puzzles, and the satisfaction in presenting what is, in essence, a logic puzzle, planting all the clues and occasionally distracting from them, was an unexpected joy.
But where do the people come from?
A friend of mine, also an author, said to me recently that all your characters come from yourself, that there is part of you in each one. But I think I can honestly say that I have never been anything like Tommy Ross. Except that I think I am kind and I like good food and nice clothes and dogs, and I believe in the goodness of most people. Oh, all right then, Miki, you win.
But I don’t have his magic. Tommy Ross seems to understand people (and dogs) so well that he almost seems to be reading their minds.
I think he might be dangerous if he wasn’t on your side. His superior officer (and surrogate father), DI George Bradshaw admires Tommy for his sheer doggedness. When Tommy Ross wanted to achieve something he held on to it like a dog with a bone and he wouldn’t let go until he’d mastered it.
I had intended George to be the hero detective and, although he is a detective and also a hero, once Tommy Ross appeared, he took central stage and it was him I cared about most of all.
He is, in essence, a boy my son brought home one day. He was homeless and barefoot and had nowhere to sleep that night. Unlike Tommy Ross, he was not an orphan, but he shared Tommy’s lack of formal education, his intelligence and his great desire to please. He stayed with us for a few months, until the Night Shelter offered him a proper paid job with free accommodation.
I also used to work with a delightful man who came from a family of travelling horse traders and who loved new words.
I have sadly lost touch with both of them. I hope they are living long and happy lives.
In the meantime, Tommy Ross lives on. I can’t get him out of my head. It is just about a year after he solved the mystery of the severed hand and he has settled down to the more mundane world of everyday policing, when another murder is thrust upon him.
I can’t wait to find out what happens.
A Gift for Murder is available free on Kindle Unlimited, or can be bought as an e-book or paperback from any Amazon store:
Joshua found the girl shivering in the stream, clutching a severed hand.
Horrific as that was, it was not the worst thing.
The worst thing was the nightmares.
The monster was coming. It was coming through the corn. Every night it came closer.
And it was coming to kill.
For PC Tommy Ross this was his first murder case. And he had no idea how to solve it. How do you find a killer when you can’t even find the body?