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What makes a crime writer?

Crime author Pauline Rowson with A KILLING COASTIt’s often said that you should write what you know, but I don't agree. I’ve never committed a murder, or been a police officer, and neither am I married to one. I’ve had no previous experience or knowledge of the law, except what I’ve read in crime novels, and I’ve never been to an autopsy, yet after many trials and tribulations I finally got the job as a crime writer. It’s my belief you should write what you are enthusiastic about, but you also need some additional qualities.

Persistence and patience are essential in order to be able to ferret out the information you require. This can be desk research via the Internet, the library and/or by speaking to individuals.

When I first created the flawed and rugged DI Andy Horton I approached Hampshire Police (the county in which my novels are set) and asked if I could talk to some police officers in the relevant departments. They let me visit them even before I was published. Now, having several crime novels under my belt, I am very fortunate to have many police officers to call on for assistance.

However, beginner writers might not be able to access police resources especially as the police have suffered manpower cuts and are very stretched. The good news is that there is a wealth of information on the internet and by selecting the reputable sources you can glean a great deal of information not solely on police but also on other research. For example for my 1950s set Inspector Ryga mysteries I delve into town maps, train timetables and even the weather forecast for 1950 and 1951, all of which can be found on the internet.

Patience is needed to track down, read and analyse the reams of information you gather, a tenth of which might be useful and only a tenth of that which might finally appear in your novel. So you’ll also need to be selective.

You need a keen interest in humanity, the ability to ask probing questions and listen to the answers. You should also have absolutely no desire to speak about yourself and your novel.

It is information you are seeking and you can only obtain this through asking questions, having a good ear and good observation skills, all of which can be gained when travelling by public transport, an absolute must for an author as it always provides lots of character sketches and snatches of very interesting conversations, the subject of which could provide ideas for developing the story. Alternatively just sit inside a motorway service station one day and watch the wonders of the world in terms of humanity come through the doors!

Observe body language, and develop a good ear for conversation. Listen to mobile phone conversations, they can provide a wealth of information on family and marital rifts.

All authors should have an open enquiring mind.Once you open your mind to ideas they can come thick and fast and they can come from anywhere – that overheard train or mobile phone conversation, that snippet of research you’ve just unearthed, a place you have visited or something you’ve seen.

So there you have it, no previous knowledge or experience required just the desire to create, write, observe, research, persist and be patient. Oh, and most of and enjoy.

Inspector Andy Horton Mystery no. 15

A Deadly Wake a DI Andy Horton MysteryNumber 15 in the DI Andy Horton series set against the backdrop of the sea on the South Coast of England in Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight

As DI Andy Horton follows the trail of a man found dead in a log cabin on the Isle of Wight, he uncovers some startling revelations into his own mother’s past and the truth behind her disappearance over thirty years ago.

Published in paperback, ebook, on Amazon Kindle and Kobo order on line and from all booksellers


Inspector Ryga 1950s set mysteries

Death in the Cove, an Inspector Alun Ryga 1950 crime novel

When the body of a man dressed in a pinstriped suit is discovered by war photographer, Eva Paisley, in a secluded bay on Portland Island, Dorset, Inspector Alun Ryga of Scotland Yard is sent to investigate. Recently promoted, the thoughtful, observant Ryga, is on his first solo investigation outside of London, and is keen to prove his worth. Ignoring the warnings of the local police inspector, and the Dorset Chief Constable, that his trust in Eva Paisley is misjudged, Ryga quickly realises that her observations could provide the breakthrough he needs in a complex murder investigation and the answer to the haunting circumstances that have sent the man in the pinstriped suit to his death.

DEATH IN THE HARBOUR, Inspector Ryga mystery by Pauline RowsonrMyra Swinley is convinced that her police constable husband’s death was no accident, and that he would never have lost his footing on a dark, foggy November night on the quayside of Newhaven Harbour while on his beat. Determined to get to the truth she visits Scotland Yard to ask his former friend, Detective Superintendent Street, to investigate. Street says they have no basis to do so, but when Myra fails to return home from her visit to the Yard, Inspector Ryga is sent down to the Sussex coast to investigate. Accompanied by former war photographer, Eva Paisley, who has been airlifted back to England after suffering a wound incurred in Korea, Ryga’s investigation soon begins to uncover some puzzling facts. Painstakingly, and with Eva’s assistance, Ryga begins to unravel the mystery of why an ordinary police constable was murdered and his sensible law-abiding wife has gone missing.

The ART MARVIK series of mystery thrillers

Art Marvik Mystery Thrillers by Pauline Rowson"Fans of Rowson’s DI Andy Horton books will be delighted with her series featuring former marine commando Art Marvik.A tense, terrifying thrill ride that twists and turns with dizzying speed, combined with a likable, smart, tough, but all too human hero, make this a cracking-good series—action fans need Marvik on their radar." Booklist

Where to buy Pauline Rowson's books

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JULY 5TH, 2021 @ 6:00:41 BST


RE: What makes a crime writer?

Thanks for the article and your honesty in the steps used to establish a believable novel.
God speed, maryb

COMMENT BY MARY, MARCH 4TH, 2015 @ 23:33:14 GMT

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