This is the third D.I. Costello book that I have read, and yet again Elizabeth has created a fun, well-paced mystery, detective book. This time the murder happens backstage at a concert, so we enter the world of musicians, roadies and ticket touters.
The characters are likeable and interact so well with one another that you can really begin to imagine their lives. I love the banter between the main characters, and the fact that Elizabeth shows them at home as well as at work. I saved this book to read on holiday, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn’t quite see the ending coming this time, which was very refreshing.
I’m always fascinated to hear how other authors work, and so am thrilled Elizabeth has agreed to answer a few questions about her writing methods for this, the first day of her official blog tour:
This book is part of a series – did you have the ideas for all of the titles before you embarked on writing the first one, or has the series developed over time?
I only had the first one at the beginning. That was the one set in Wimbledon: Game, Set and Murder. I’d had some help from Ali Hull of Lion Hudson, publishers, on the editing and writing style. It was from Ali that I heard of Lion Hudson’s plans to ‘go mainstream’ with a new imprint: Lion Fiction, and I asked her whether I should present my novel. In fact she sent it to Tony Collins, the commissioning editor of the new imprint, on my behalf. He looked at the synopsis and first chapter and got back to me within the hour asking two questions: 1, did I plan to use the protagonist again? And, 2: Could he read the whole manuscript? This was the furthest I’d ever got with an agent or publisher before and I was just so excited. Of course I told him that I planned to use the protagonist again. I was very struck by his long-term view, even at that early stage. I whizzed off the entire manuscript to him and the rest is history. Dead Gorgeous, the second novel in the series was originally called Not Just a Pretty Face but Tony Collins didn’t really think it worked. I plucked Dead Gorgeous out of the air and sent the idea to him thinking I was about to begin a very lengthy back-and-forth of suggested titles and rejections but he emailed me back almost immediately saying he liked it and we stayed with it. I’m really pleased. I think it’s a lovely title. End of the Roadie was Tony’s suggestion. We’d had a lot of back and forth on the title and couldn’t come up with anything. I think End Of The Roadie is pretty neat.
It has been great to see how the main characters have developed and interact with one another over the three titles you’ve written so far. I find myself really connecting with them, wanting to know what happens to them and how they deal with everyday home life as well as their work. How have you felt that connection with your characters – do they seem to take on a character of their own (ie have they gone in directions you didn’t first envisage) or did you have a clear idea of what you wanted them to be like and what situations you would put them in before you started each new book?
I do feel a connection with my characters but I only have a loose idea of how they’re going to develop. I didn’t really know, before I found myself writing it, that Patrick’s daughter was going to move back home. (SPOILER ALERT!) This is mooted in the first novel in which she doesn’t appear but she moved in at the beginning of the second book and now she’s become one of the regular characters. I don’t really have much of an idea of how Patrick and Angela are going to develop. I do remember once, in a piece on the Association of Christian Writers website that someone, in giving advice to crime writers said: avoid clichés, not all detectives are alcoholic divorcées. So I’m very pleased to make Angela a happily married woman. Patrick is an ex-DI and he’s useful as a kind of back-up to Angela as well as her husband.
Do you have a particular place you like to write in? And do you have a particular writing schedule – are you quite disciplined about setting aside a certain amount of hours each day, or when you are in the midst of writing a new book does it simply take over and envelop your days until you are done?
I write wherever I am, so long as I’ve got a pad and pen or a PC to hand. I’ve written while working on switchboards (when I was a telephonist), I’ve written on the beach and, of course, at the kitchen table. I tend to write more in the afternoon but it’s not a rigid timetable and I’ll write in the morning if I feel so moved. I only do about 1,00o words a day, give or take, and generally know when I’ve reached the end of that day’s session, at which point I stop until the next day.
If you like light-hearted, well-written murder mysteries, I would thoroughly recommend this series.