Friday, February 4, 2022

In the beginning.....


In the beginning were the words.

 And the words were

White, nothing but white. No sense. No awareness, only white.

Those were the very first words I wrote in hospital in …. 2004 or 5 (?) when I had fractured my spine and my pal appeared with a clipboard, a pad and a papermate pen.  It needed to be a papermate as they write when upside down. I learned how to do that. I also learned how to drink tea when lying down and how to balance scrambled egg on a bit of toast while unable to move and stuck staring at the ceiling.

I suppose these talents might come in useful if I am ever in a hostage situation.

Those words, the white words, have never changed, through all the edits, all the redrafts. They were always there at the front of my debut novel.

And I have no idea where they came from.

 I had never written anything before except for academic study. Never had written anything creative except at age 7 I wrote about the teddy bears’ picnic in a story where all the bears turned on the kids. And killed them.

Now, all these years later, things have happened. I think I have written 14 books, 13 Anderson and Costello and a standalone.  I lose track of it all after a while.  It’s the marathon runner mentality. Concentrate on the bit in front of you as the big picture is too scary.

The last year has been a turbulent one in many ways, one of them being that all my editors left their companies in the same week.  I thought I was some kind of Typhoid Mary, but a patient explained to me that many people who were thinking about changing job held firm during the pandemic and once the shoots of recovery started to appear, everybody was on the move. All at once. About two years worth of job changes happened within a three month spell. So all my editors upped and left, including one that I had never met.

So the last ( the latest) contract was really negotiated , and it was negotiated in a buying a house kind of way. It was for two books in a new series. Their decision not mine, well it was their request which I agreed to.  They want me to do two series, one Anderson and Costello plus a new series and then bob about between the two. As you do.

And they wanted a brief outline. I had no idea what I was doing, then something came into my head, I put it on paper and they paid me a very nice advance thank you very kindly.

I delivered that book on Tuesday at 7am.

And I have now had time to reflect on that experience of leaving my characters behind, even if temporarily and saying hello to new ones. Sending it off to somebody I’ve ever met and not the person who green lighted the project. All a bit daunting I said to her in the email I sent her with the TS. 

 She agreed that I must find the situation discombobulating.  I think I like her already.

At the start of the process, I recall typing the word snapdragon, word count 1.

I had the 10 000 words I had sent to the publishers, the sample they had based their offer on.

I think I ended up writing a book totally different to that. Well it’s in English and somebody dies…

 But you can’t bend your creativity can you? Well that’s my argument.

 In my head and in the sample there was a female detective. She’s called away to work up north, city girl sent out to the sticks.  There are five dead bodies laid out in an old mansion of a house. Looking back, that was definitely inspired by the List Murders of 1971.

So that was in my head.

I had no idea if the thing’ would happen. I’d be interested if the thing happens to the other MIE writers.

The thing is ;- There’s a blank page. I had an idea about a character and I start writing, my blood red in my fountain pen. Then the character says, no that’s not what happened and they just take over and somehow guide me to the end of the book.


 I have no idea where Christine came from.  She told me that I had her surname wrong and would I please change it.  She told me her husband looked like Alain Delon ( lucky her) and he was born in a village near to where she was being posted. So that’s good if the publishers like her and want her to move up for a series. Christine turned out to be taller than I expected, she was a ballet dancer until she grew too tall, and she drinks green tea. She wears a hair in a low chignon and looks like a Glasgow version of Audrey Hepburn, aged mid forties.

 She introduced her family to me, a sensible daughter and a son who never gets out his bed. And her two female colleagues who she has remained close to. Those two, the female friends, both walked onto the book and said ‘Right, this is me.’ and introduced themselves and their backstory. They even told me that one of them had a brief fling with the husband of another one, until the two women met (the unsuspecting wife and the girlfriend who he had told he was single). That man, is forever to be known as The Bastard, with capital letters. Then he turned up in the book as well. As the boss of his ex wife and ex fling.

He gets a tough ride in the book.

Actually, I’m glad these characters can’t type otherwise there’d be no reason for me to be involved in the creative process at all.

And I have discovered the read aloud button on the computer.  I was listening to the book at that “final edit before it goes to the editor stage” and I noticed a character that had sneaked in without me knowing about him. I put it on Facebook as a type of lost property. ‘ I have a character in  my book who does not belong there. If you have lost a character by the name of Michael Lennon, then I shall keep him safe until you claim him.

Equally, if anybody from MIE wants to have him, he’s free to a good home.



  1. May I read the book before deciding if I want Michael or not? Is he house trained?

  2. Now, I'm all hot and bothered (far better than cold and all alone) to read the book, and I'll have to wait, what? Two years?


    You're not only a successful writer, but a tease. I hope Michael Lennon dumps you for a hyena from The African Bush.

    1. Ummm... just reread that last line and realized that it sounds like I wanted your character to feed you to a hyena for lunch. I meant he should stop hanging out with you and start hanging out with Kubu's hyenas. Sigh. One should ALWAYS be careful with words. They're SO sharp...

  3. Congratulations on finishing your latest book, Caro. Can't wait to read the results. Do you have a title for us yet, or would it be a case of, you could tell us, but then you'd have to kill us...?

  4. I'm hooked! And yes the 'thing' happens to me. And I'm looking forward to it happening again. Soon and please. Uhh, does Lennon (Michael) speak Greek?