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May 2018: Hello, spring!

Well, hello spring!

After what seems to have been the longest winter EVER, the sun is finally out, blossom blooming, and the birds are nesting.  The only drawback when the weather cheers up is that I’d rather be outside than in, so sitting at my computer becomes a bit of an effort. Today, for example, I’ve been out all morning, notebook in hand, and as usual when I’m walking, I’ve returned bursting with more ideas for my stand-alone.

I sent the outline and first few chapters to my agent last week. Luckily, he loves them (phew) and has sent them on to my editor. It will be interesting to see what she thinks since it’s a bit of a departure from my usual writing.

I’ve written 8,000 words so far and already it’s intensifying and deepening into a really good psychological soup. Without a contract, it seems crazy to keep writing, but now I’ve started I can’t seem to stop!

Hello, spring! (© CJ Carver)

With this book I’ve chosen to keep it close to home, London, so this means that I’ll have to take a few research trips there in due course.  I know that if I make a single mistake my email inbox will be full of people pointing it out so I have to make sure I walk every street and visit every tube station I mention.

In my first book Blood Junction, which I wrote in the UK, I had a car chase around the Sydney Opera House and thank heavens I visited before the book was published because the whole area had been pedestrianized! In my view, there’s nothing worse reading a book where the author hasn’t done, or can’t be bothered to do, their research.

Google is great, though, for broad brush strokes. But there’s nothing like getting your feet on the ground and seeing who actually walks the same streets as your characters, what the air smells and sounds like, whether it’s bin day, how clean or how dirty the area is.

Getting away from work for a moment – my Scottish sojourn for a friend’s 70th last month was fantastic. Talk about a treat. We were just 12 miles shy of John O’Groats with just the sound of sheep bleating until the piper walked in to Address the Haggis. Great fun!

A Scottish sojourn. (© CJ Carver)

And look what I found hidden in the castle – a Writing Room! Mind you, all it did was make me feel guilty that I was on a mid-week knees up and not working. Why is it us authors feel guilty if we’re not welded to our computer keyboard? Answers not by postcard, but by email, please.

I tried hard not to feel too guilty when I came across this ‘Writing Room’ during my Scottish sojourn. (© CJ Carver)

I’ve read loads of books through winter, but right now I’m in the middle of Snoop, what your stuff says about you by Sam Gosling. He’s a terrifically engaging writer, as well as a renowned psychologist, but I don’t think I’ll be inviting him into my office!

Seriously, it’s a great insight into not just others, but ourselves. He shows what our desks reveal about our personalities. How the books we own and the pictures on our wall tell a story too. He also reveals the best way to find out what your new partner is really like. It’s a fascinating insight into the way we leave impressions without even knowing it, and I’m loving it not just for personal reasons, but it’s a really useful tool to help me show character in my books.

If you’re into psychological thrillers, then Need to Know by Karen Cleveland is one that will keep you awake through the night until you finish it. I liked this one in particular because it’s about a CIA analyst put in an impossible position loyalty-wise, and the office details feel absolutely genuine thanks to the fact Cleveland spent 8 years as a CIA analyst. She knows what she’s talking about.

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland: one that will keep you awake through the night until you finish it (© CJ Carver)

Don’t forget JK Rowling’s Cormoran Strike series either, which I’m really enjoying. And if you like spy thrillers, my top three authors today are Charles Cummings, Alan Judd and Adam Brookes.

If you fancy getting my latest thriller at a bargain price (in my opinion recommended books make the best presents!) the paperback is just £1.99 this week, 98p for the e-book.

Right. Time to get stuck into my manuscript again, but before I go I’d like to thank you for reading this, as well as wish you a happy spring (if you’re in the northern hemisphere) and a happy autumn (if you’re in the south).

Lastly, good health to you all!