Thursday, May 21, 2015

One most likely . . .

Regrettably, I think the answer to this is a resounding yes.

Not only did I devour The Famous Five, The Five Find-outers, The Put 'em Rights, The Secret Seven and my absolute favourite - The Treasure Hunters (secret passageways! treasure maps! can't say more without spoilers!) - all from the Olivetti of Enid Blyton:

but I did my best to surround myself with drama and intrigue from the off. I was the fourth sister; maybe I reckoned the only way to get any attention was to raise the stakes and keep my big sisters and parents on the edge of their seats. A man followed me home! (He didn't.) There's a rattlesnake in my bed! (There wasn't. Blame Bonanza.) I've gone blind! (I hadn't.)

By the time I had graduated onto Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh, I had learned to keep my melodramatic daydreams to myself. It took a surprisingly long time to learn the next step - write them down. But I'm glad it finally occurred to me.

The first full-length book I ever wrote was the equal of any blind bonanza rattlesnake mash-up as far as implausibility and peril went. But, coming out of almost fifteen years of academia, it had zero playfulness in the writing. I put it in a drawer and moved on to Dandy Gilver (with no great increase in gritty realism). But I never forgot it and never fell out of love with some of the core characters.

A couple of years ago I returned to the imaginary town, renamed it, dusted off some characters, dreamed up more, and wrote what became COME TO HARM. It came out two weeks ago.

It's a bit surreal suddenly having other people know this story that's lived in my head since 2001 and I'm blaming that experience for me sharing, here on Criminal Minds, the fact that I once pretended a strange man had followed me home. To me, it was a tall tale no different from the rattlesnake and the loss of vision. It's only now I get what my parents must have gone through. Sorry, Mum and Dad. Next strange man -  I promise, I'll write it down.

1 comment:

Kathy Reel said...

You are such an interesting person, Catriona, and I'm so happy that you turned that great imagination to writing books that I love to read. I have Come to Harm next up on my reading chair table. Can't wait!