It almost had that back to school feeling on Monday evening. Catching up with others that we haven’t seen over the summer, swapping holiday stories. Thankfully, Jake Kerridge was on hand to make sure we weren’t unruly and listened dutifully to the panel. And what a line-up! Sophie Hannah, Tim Weaver, Rod Reynolds and Jane Corry.
Sophie Hannah is back with her second Hercule Poirot story – Closed Casket. She told us how it had never occurred to her that she would be given permission by the Christie family to write new stories for Poirot. In Closed Casket, Poirot is invited to a party where the hostess, Lady Athelinda Playford, is planning to change her will and make the announcement to everyone. But Poirot has never met Lady Playford before. So why has he been invited?
Tim Weaver’s 7th Raker novel is Broken Heart. David Raker is a Missing Persons Investigator and this time he’s asked to look into the case of a woman who drives to a secluded beauty spot. CCTV sees her drive in but not leave. How can she just vanish? I have to admit that I haven’t read any of this series but I’m completely intrigued, so will be remedying that soon! (Which is why I don’t have a photo of your book – sorry Tim!)
Black Night Falling is Rod Reynolds second book featuring journalist Charlie Yates. Set in Hot Springs USA in 1946, Charlie begins to investigate some missing girls. But Hot Springs is a corrupt town and as Rod told us, it really was the Mob’s vacation spot. (See my review for Black Night Falling here)
Jane Corry completed the panel as a debut novelist but is a very established journalist. Her novel is My Husband’s Wife and tell the story of Lily and Ed and their relationship with their neighbour, a young girl called Carla. I’ve just finished reading this so will do a review very soon!
Jake asked how important is it to know the end of your story before you begin to write it?
Tim Weaver isn’t really a great planner so he doesn’t always know how it’s going to end until he starts writing. He’ll often pause at stages and try and second guess the reader and then go in a different direction.
Rod Reynolds has endings that he throws out. He starts with a synopsis but will often change it as he writes the story. He finds that a better ending will become more apparent and one trick he has is to write himself into a corner and then try and work out how to get out of it!
Jane Corry didn’t know the ending for her book either and prefers it that way. She likes to be the captain of the ship without having any direction to go in. Often the characters will do something interesting and that will point the way.
Sophie Hannah is more of a planner but that doesn’t preclude flashes of inspiration and she gives herself permission to change the plan.
A question from the room was how do you give your secondary characters integrity?
Tim said that it’s important to let the characters develop and come alive on the page and see how they interact with the main protagonist. He mentioned that he once heard some else say that all characters are the protagonist in their own stories.
Sophie Hannah doesn’t think it necessary to know everything about a character i.e. an in-depth back story. It’s all about how they relate to the main character. Characterization is plot driven.
For Rod, Charlie Yates is an outsider to Hot Springs so he had to think carefully about the ‘insiders’ from the town and what they would contribute to the story – what do they know?
Jane likes multi view points (she has two in My Husband’s Wife) as they help to move the plot along and they comment on each other. But she does think it’s important for sub characters to have a role and likes to think of them as a whole person.
First Monday Crime will be back on the 3rd October with a terrific line-up – SJ Watson, Stuart Neville, Antonia Hodgson and William Ryan. You can buy tickets here
But if you can’t wait until then for your crime fix then Sophie Hannah will be at Chiswick Book Festival as well as Paula Hawkins and William Ryan. And on Thursday 22nd Sept, Crime in the Court is back – tickets £5.
If you want to follow any of the authors featured in First Monday Crime this month or buy their books then
@sophiehannahCB1 buy Closed Casket at Amazon here
@TimWeaverBooks buy Broken Heart at Amazon here
@Rod_WR buy Black Night Falling at Amazon here
@JaneCorryAuthor buy My Husband’s Wife at Amazon here