# Please introduce yourself and your books.
I come from Northumberland in the northeast of England, though have lived in Scotland for the last 17 years. I mainly write murder mystery books, along with a few children’s adventures and the odd horror novel.
# What inspires your creativity?
I like to create a puzzle for the reader to work out. Sometimes I make the puzzle too difficult and have to backtrack a little, but usually I can work out the ending at the appropriate moment.
# How do you deal with creative block?
Like Terry Pratchett, I don’t believe in writer’s block, so the only time I had a real creative problem was after my father died. For many months afterwards I found it impossible to get back to writing every day. It took me two years to regain my confidence and return to my previous routine.
# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
Both can be problematic in that they have to convey something of the content of the book to the reader. I like to have the title and the cover finalised before I start writing, that way I can keep them in mind and not stray too far off topic. Many writers would say a cover should fit well within the chosen genre, which is why so many crime writers have similar covers – a lone figure walking towards a deserted house, or a man holding a gun and looking mean. With my Terry Bell Murder Mystery series, I wanted something different, so the covers all feature a central image with silhouettes of Terry and his car at the sides. I’m aware that the books would probably sell better if I conformed to the norm, but I always liked to be different 😉
# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
Luckily, I don’t get too many of these, but I try to bear in mind that no single novel is going to appeal to everyone and for those people who read one of my books and didn’t like it, well, that’s just their opinion.
# How has your creation process improved over time?
I’m much more aware now of the need to grab the reader’s attention on the first page, giving them something scary or thrilling to whet the appetite. With some of my earlier books, I didn’t do that. It’s like a sales pitch – you have to show the potential book-buyer that they’re going to get something exciting right from the off.
# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers?
Personal satisfaction is the most important thing to me. Essentially, I try to entertain myself, to write something I would enjoy reading. If I can do that, I reckon I’m halfway there.
# What are your plans for future books?
Write more. I have a couple of series that I think may come to an end in the next year or so, but I’m always thinking about brand new characters that won’t simply be carbon copies of ones I’ve already created.
# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself.
I once walked into a plate glass window thinking it was an open door. It didn’t smash, but I got a huge lump on my forehead.
I play lots of musical instruments, including the guitar, ukulele, mandolin and banjo.