It’s early morning and ideas for the story are still swirling around my head from waking moments. I head for the study and scribble them on a writing pad before they escape. After a strong coffee, flakes and fruit, I read a couple of chapters of Rankin’s “In a House of Lies”. I read it as a writer, noting the skill and craft he uses to weave the threads of the plot together. And how he makes every little piece of detail count. And I read it as a reader, eager to turn the next page and solve the murder.
I fire up the Mac and open the file labelled “Novel”. I go through the editing from yesterday and make changes here and there. Then I get distracted by WhatsApp messages and decide it’s time for more caffeine. The chopping and changing gets underway again and I begin to slip out of the real world and into a fictional one.
“Leave Only Footprints” was born late one night long ago when I was working away from home. I was staying in a company flat in Germany, feeling nostalgic and missing my family. My laptop was on the coffee table and I’d closed my work Emails. I opened a new Word file and simply started to write. And I wrote until I saw the sun rise.
The novel has mutated a lot since then. Only pieces of the plot, the main cast, the settting and the era have survived. I didn’t set out to write a crime novel, in fact I don’t know what I had in mind. It just grew into one. Over time the characters have become my second family and I know I’m going to miss them when it’s over. Time travelling back to the 1970’s and unravelling two murder cases has been brilliant.
One of my favourite clips from the coronavirus outbreak is part of a BBC TV compilation. It’s of an elderly man with a captivating smile who tells us “My mind is free.” Yes, we are confined to our homes, but our imagination can take us wherever we want to go. We can lose ourselves in a book, in a film, art, music, a video game or even in our own story.