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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Dead Wood, Night Watcher & All That Jazz

Bill Murphy is returning on the 11th July in a new crime novel, Missing Believed Dead, and it’s not that long ago he was interviewed by the fabulous Peggy Stanton, so with Peggy’s permission I’m replicating the interview here. It’ll give you a feel for Bill, if you haven’t already met him.

This interview was originally published on Famous Five Plus

Peggy – Leaning forward for a chaste kiss on the cheek – ‘Do sit down, I’ve ordered us a pot of tea.’

Bill Murphy – Sitting down in the chair opposite. ‘Thanks, Chris asked me to pop along here for an interview.’
Peggy – ‘Chris, she’s like me, one for words, mind I’m more for speaking them. Anyway, thanks for coming along, Bill. You don’t mind if I call you Bill?’

Bill – Nodding a smile. ‘That’s okay. I’ve been called worse.’
Peggy – ‘I’ve been doing a bit of ferreting around and it seems you’re a Detective Sergeant. So I take it no uniform then? Pity!’

Bill – ‘Hmm, no, but you’re right, I’m a DS with the Dundee Police Force. That’s in Scotland, in case you didn’t know.’

Peggy – ‘You’ll not catch me out on my geography, we’re quite multi national here, Bill. We’ve got writers and characters from lots of countries, down under, that’s Australia, even across the pond, I can see you’re with me, yes it’s USA.’

Bill – Raising an eyebrow. ‘I had a look at your Books room while I was waiting. It’s quite impressive, looked a bit like my local bookstore. I’d tell you the name of it but we’re not allowed to advertise.’

Peggy – ‘You can always advertise us in any book store, that’s very kind of you. Now, from what Chris has told me, you’re a bit like myself, you don’t like following the rules much.’

Bill – ‘She has her own opinions, but I follow the rules, provided they don’t get in the way.’

Peggy –  Smiling. ‘It’s not what I’ve heard, I get the impression they get in the way quite a lot. A little birdie told me you’ve added the word bend to your set of rules!’

Bill – Shifting in his seat. ‘I’m not sure where you’re coming from on that one, but let’s just say, I get the job done. Anyway, there’s more to me than detective work, I’m quite a nice guy at the end of the day. A bit lonely sometimes. In fact I believe there are some readers who’d like to see me settled with a nice woman. Not that I’d mind that, I just never seem to be lucky with women.’

Peggy –  Raising her hand to her hair, gently strokes it. ‘I love a saddo, if you know what I mean. There’s nothing wrong in being lonely, but do tell me about the women in your life? I’m sure it’s more fascinating then the men in mine.’

Bill – Flicking some invisible fluff from his trousers leg. ‘Not much to tell. I was married once, you know. But like a lot of cop marriages it didn’t last. Not my fault, you understand. Evie, her name was. She had a roving eye and a taste for alcohol. She ran off with my best friend.’

Peggy – Notices the pained look in Bill’s face. ‘I don’t think she was the only one with a roving eye a good looking man like you must have cast your net out from time to time, surely there have been other women?’

Bill – Casting a glance across the room at the video playing, he smiled. ‘One or two, but they didn’t come to anything much.’

Peggy – Leaning forward in a conspirator tone. ‘Do tell me about them, I’m the soul of discretion?’

Bill – Raising his hand and counting on his fingers. ‘There was Julie. I met her in Night Watcher. I really thought that might have come to something, but when the case was over she went back to Edinburgh. She said she would phone, but she never did. Then I met Louise in Dead Wood, and that was developing nicely until the fiasco in Templeton Woods. That gave her quite a fright and she went home to her mum for a while. She’s back now, but Sue told me she wanted some space.’

Peggy  – ‘My my, you’re one for scaring them off , what with night watching, dead wood and what’s the other, templeton wood. Anybody since then?’

Bill – With a far away look. ‘Well, there’s someone I’m quite attracted to in the new book Chris is writing. Diane, her name is. The problem is her daughter vanished five years ago and it kind of messed her up psychologically. I really like her, she brings out the protective side in me, but there’s an even bigger problem because I think she might have committed a murder.’

Peggy  –  Stifling a chuckle ‘You like to live in the fast lane, good grief what happened to nice girls next door. Never mind, I can see this Diane could be a bit of a handful, particularly in your job.’

Bill – Shifting in his chair.  ‘Are we done yet? It’s just that my new DI isn’t very understanding and I didn’t tell her where I was going.’

Peggy – Placing a reassuring hand on Bill’s knee ‘I’m sure I can talk with your DI, better still I’ll invite her for an interview, as a senior officer, she’ll understand how important it is to answer questions. Maybe she can enlighten me more on what goes with her staff, so stop fretting. My, for a policeman out of uniform you’re a worrier, well, if you’re in a hurry, I guess that will do for now. But do come back another day when you have a bit more time. I’d like to know more about this mad woman who could have murdered someone. Also I’ll be wanting to know if you are seeing her, nothing like some excitement to talk over coffee with my lady friends.’

Bill – Standing up, amusement crossing his face, just what had he subjected himself to with this Peggy interview?. ‘Of course, provided you clear it with Chris. I like to let her think she controls me, although to tell the truth I’m afraid I just do my own thing.’

Peggy – ‘I think you’ve got that wrong Bill, whoever this Chris is seems a pussy cat compared to your DI, never mind, run along and hurry back.’

Peggy Stanton

Newsflash – Chris Longmuir's new crime novel, Missing Believed Dead, featuring Bill Murphy, will be launched at Waterstones, Dundee branch, on 11 July, 2013, at 6.30pm. Hope to see you there.

Chris Longmuir

Saturday, 4 May 2013

When is the End not the End?

Book Launch after I won the Dundee International Book Prize

I need a pat on the back. Why? Well I wrote The End on my work in progress. It’s finished. Completed. I’ve written the final chapter, and even better, the final sentence. And I must say there was a wee tear in my eye as I wrote it.

Tears! From a dark crime writer! What next? Well, even though my books are not renowned for happy endings, I do have a soft side. I’m sure I’ll be deafened by the mutterings out there when this is read. But I do, honestly. And, although my crime books may not have very many happy endings, things do work out. Anyway, would you really want a happy ending to a dark crime book?

Once I stopped dancing because I had written The End, I had to knuckle down to some more work. You see, when a writer writes The End to their work in progress, it’s not really the end. Next comes the hard work of revision, editing and proofing, and I do all that before it goes out to my editors for fresh eyes to look at.

Revision comes first. The entire manuscript is read, and while reading I am looking out for clumsy writing, places where I’ve told the story rather than showed the action, although there are places where telling is okay. If I reach a tell section, I consider it. Would it be better if I turned it into show, or should I leave it the way it is? A lot depends on what is happening in the story at that point. If it’s a fast paced section then there is no argument – it has to be show. But tell is great if you want a quick way to sketch in background or move the story through time. However, given that the action in the new book takes place over a period of 6 days, time gallops.

Then, there is the hunt for weasel words. That is, words that are unnecessary, words where the sentence would make the same sense if they weren’t there. I’m thinking about words like – just, that, actually, basically, extremely, almost, simply – there are loads more, including the word ‘then’ which starts this paragraph, and the Find command in Word is excellent for rooting them out. However, each word has to be considered before removal, because in some cases they are needed.

Then a hunt for quotation marks. Word’s Find command is great here too, but this is laborious, and you only realize how many you use when you search them out. So what am I looking for? I’m checking that dialogue is both opened and closed, and that apostrophes are in the correct place. Speaking of apostrophes, I also do a find on words like ‘its’ just in case it’s the one that needs the apostrophe. Then there’s the hunt for ise, and ize endings to ensure the correct one is written. I use the Oxford Dictionary for Writers & Editors, and they stipulate the correct usage for words that can be written either way. Their preference is for ize endings, with some exceptions, for example, ‘realize’ is an ize ending but ‘surprise’ is an ise ending. However, as I have a tendency to use the ise endings in preference to ize, this means hunting out every ise ending and converting it if it’s needed. I’m getting better though, because when I’m writing my brain has become trained to write ize instead of ise.

After that, another read through is needed before it goes out to my editors. And that’s where the book is at the moment. And, of course, another read through once the corrections are in, then a speak aloud read through – it’s amazing the errors you can detect when you read the manuscript aloud, although after 92,000 words I reckon I’ll be hoarse!

Oh, nearly forgot to say, the cover has been commissioned, but I have no idea what it will look like yet. I’m waiting for my cover artist to surprise me.

I suppose you want to know what the book is about, but I’ll leave that until later. What I will tell you though, is that it is the third one in the Dundee Crime Series, and I should be ready to launch it in early July.

Watch this space!