When the weather improves like most people I gravitate toward the outdoors. And for a writer this means my ‘shed’. I suppose some people would call it a ‘summerhouse’ but that seems a little grand. Even so, it’s furnished (with paintings on the wall), carpeted and comfortable and when I work in there I write on the old oak gate leg table I inherited from my parents. That table has been part of my life since I was born (and used to stand in the front room of my home in Liverpool) so it holds many memories, from homework to Christmas dinners. Working on that table seems right somehow and I think I always work best in my shed at the bottom of the garden sealed off from the world (and the Internet). However, our short period of glorious weather has now been replaced by torrential rain so, disappointingly, I’m back indoors.


This diary is rather late this month because I’ve been working flat out trying to get Wesley Peterson’s next case, The Mermaid’s Scream, to my publisher. My fantastic editor sent me his notes a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been rewriting my manuscript, thinking deeply about each character and every twist of the plot, making them as believable and dramatic as I possibly can. As I’ve probably said before, writing is rewriting and my advice to any aspiring writers out there would be to keep going over your work, honing it until it is as good as you can make it. Then put it away for a while, go back to it and work on it again.

Anyway, I sent the finished manuscript off late last Thursday and my editor has given the finished product his thumbs up so now I have to decide on the cover. As The Mermaid’s Scream features a reclusive author who lives by the sea, we’ve already decided on a dramatic seascape and we’re now tweaking the details. An eye-catching cover is important and I’ve been really lucky so far in that I’ve loved the covers to all my books. I think Little, Brown, my publisher do a really good job.

Since I last wrote this diary I’ve attended Crimefest in Bristol, a wonderful convention for anybody who writes or reads crime fiction. I was on two panels; one entitled Sending Shivers down the Spine and another entitled Writing Cops and Robbers. Both panels were right up my street: I love sending shivers down my readers’ spines and I’ve been told that I have a taste for the Gothic (especially in my Joe Plantagenet novels, although it tends to creep into my Wesley books as well) and I’ve been focussing on cops and robbers (or more usually, murderers) since I began writing. I’d certainly recommend CrimeFest to all avid crime fiction fans. It’s a friendly convention with fascinating panels and I always love meeting my readers there.

A couple of weeks ago I visited my local Waterstones in Stockport to celebrate the store’s twentieth anniversary with some other local authors. I hope to be back there soon (and at other bookshops too) when the paperback of THE HOUSE OF EYES comes out at the beginning of August. The way the weather is at the moment, my readers will be glad of the sliver of Sicilian sunshine that features in the book.


Later this week I’m visiting Middlesbrough Library to present a Murder Mystery (with an archaeological theme). It’ll be great fun and I really hope to meet some of you there.