I got out yesterday. I don’t do it very often. Writing crime fiction is a solitary pursuit which can turn us into lonely weirdos addicted to hot drinks and our own twisted fantasy worlds. That said, most of us are quite nice really and also rather garrulous.
I turned up at a pub I didn’t know last night, full of trepidation. I was supposed to meet a load of crime fiction author in this place and I couldn’t see anyone I knew. So I did what I do in these situations which was, consider bottling out, then I went to the toilet, then I had a fag. Then I went back in again. Emboldened by nicotine and a comfortable bladder I plucked up the courage to speak to someone who turned out to be a member of the group I was seeking.
To explain, this past year has been a bastard for me. I’ve moved and I’ve had major surgery which, for a while, resulted in my body going very weird on me indeed. I couldn’t work out whether I was hot or cold from one moment to the next and I was always really, really tired. So I’ve been out of circulation. No talks, no festivals, no social things, nothing. And when I had to have some minor surgery just before I moved, without anaesthetic, I almost gave up completely.
But it takes more than a harshly wielded instrument to keep me down and so I sallied forth and had an excellent time. In fact the whole experience was a bit like that people who haven’t used their voices for a few months must have. Somewhere inside, a dam burst and I couldn’t stop talking. I talk a lot anyway, but this was all about ‘what we do’ and so I got feedback and conversation and it was wonderful. I mean who else, I ask you, can you talk to about the legal status of a psychopath or murder by bread-knife but another crime fiction author? The uncanny? I’m fortunate in being able to speak to my son about that, but he’s less happy about poisons.
And of course our discussions turned, inevitably, to politics. We have a general election here in the UK next year, ditto Turkey, so interesting times in both countries. Also, in response to aspects of globalisation, our experiences are changing all the time. In Istanbul these days I sometimes don’t know where I am because of all the new building projects.
One of my fellow writers spoke about the van loads of people he sees in his part of the UK, driving seemingly endlessly from farm to farm. Agricultural workers, almost certainly. But in this economy of zero hours contracts and the employment, and exploitation, of workers from abroad, could these vans also contain gang masters who abuse these people? When countries are in recession, and the UK is, really, anything is possible. And it’s scary. Although it’s less scary when you talk about it with other people who also write about the horrors that lie just beneath our veneer of civilisation.
It was fun too. I’m so glad I moved and so very glad that I have managed to make a sort of recovery. I’ve needed to be out amongst my peers for a very long time and now I’ve managed to do that I can do it again. However, for the moment, I’m locked away in my office, as usual, being a weirdo who lives in an imaginary world. And that’s good too.
‘So this is the last blog I’ll write for International Crime Authors. I’m sorry to see it go but I do understand all of Christopher’s reasons for bringing it to a close. I’d like to thank Christopher, all my fellow author bloggers and you our readers for making the blog so successful over it’s five year life-span. I’ll miss it. But of course, I’m still writing my books so I’m still around. Keep on reading. All the best.