Last night saw the start of the Reading Writers regular meeting season after the summer break, and we were treated to a visit by crime fiction writer, Imogen Robertson. She also has a blog in which she has since written about her visit to our group.
Imogen’s books to date are based in London in the 1780s, before police forces, and involve an unlikely pair of investigators: the wife of a naval officer and an anatomist. Her first two books are Instruments of Darkness (Amazon|UK) and Anatomy of Murder (Amazon|UK), her third book is due for release shortly, called Island of Bones, and she’s currently working on her fourth.
The talk that Imogen gave was based around her experiences as a writer (before, leading up to and after publication), the steps involved in the process, explanations of the people involved, the editing and release process, some of the research and minutiae involved in her current work in progress, and everything that an aspiring — and even published — author could want. She was friendly, engaging and honest, and felt very accessible. Most of us felt comfortable asking questions in the post-talk Q&A, as we did during parts of Imogen’s talk, and she answered all questions with patience and humour. If it’s any indication: Imogen brought a number of copies of her books with her, which were handed around for us to look at — we bought them all. Then it was to the lovely library-in-a-pub next door, Great Expectations, for some laryngeal lubrication. Where, I’m afraid, I may have monopolised conversation with her in the noisy environment.
The combination of the restart of the writing group’s season and the visit from Imogen has reinvigorated my motivation for writing. While I have spent the time well in catching up on my unread pile as well as studying the occasional book on the craft of writing — I’m currently reading Plot & Structure (Amazon|UK) — my creative output has been almost nil. This partly came about due to the last manuscript critiquing session I attended, as the (requested) criticism that was provided showed me that I did not understand all the necessary elements of a story, and that it was clear such deficit would not get me much beyond scratching the surface of the competitive fiction market. And there was the group break, summer, etc. Last night’s events gave me a kick in the pants and have set me on my way again.
The first step in this was my submission this morning of an entry into Reading Writers’ annual Autumn competition, judged by someone in the industry who is not a member of the group. Although I did not write a new piece for it (the deadline was this morning and I had to both sleep last night and go to work today), I did have a larger piece already done with an shoe-hornable theme that needed to be cut down to meet the word limit. Cutting a large piece down to 1,000 words — even if it’s just an excerpt, as this was going to be — is hard work! You can’t just copy and paste a chapter, as the start and ending needs to make sense as do the characters and their activities when the reader hasn’t had the benefit of prior explanations, introductions and foreshadowing.
It was a bit of a panicked rush, but I managed to get it in and accepted by the independent judge. Deep sigh of relief, and now back into the creative writing fray!