Saturday 23 July 2011


After an early start and just barely catching the train, I spent the day in Bristol, scouting locations and learning more about different areas of the city. It's become clear to me that my original plan for Book 2 will need some significant alterations, one of which is a change to the first killing - different victim, different setting, different everything. Fortunately it's not as daunting as it might sound. Indeed, parts of Eye Contact underwent several shifts until they snapped into alignment, and it was a similar process with today's trip.

Certain places seem to act as catalysts for ideas. I'm not a New-Age type and I don't believe in ley-lines and all that jazz, but as I drift around a city there can be an almost tangible sense of "getting warmer" or "getting colder". And when there's time to look around, that can be very productive.

Last time I was in Bristol, I followed a whim and took a bus from Templemeads to Clifton Down. By chance, I chose the longer route and it took me through a number of places I'd not really seen before. One of these was Redland, and it's been on my mind ever since.

Today, I got the train straight through to Redland station. The area around it is lovely, and I had a great time exploring. I found a great house that would suit my new victim-to-be, and took a look around her neighbourhood to understand what it would be like living there.

I've been thinking that this character should work somewhere around the Clifton Village (keeping as far from the location in the first book as I can) so I took the bus from her local stop to see what the commute was like.

As luck would have it, the bus stop where I got off was close to a sign that mentioned Clifton Arcade. I'd never heard of it before, so I ducked down a side street and entered a truly charming little Victorian mall. Again, as soon as I stepped inside, something clicked and I knew that this was where my character should work.

After a helpful shop owner patiently answered my evasive questions (well, I didn't want to spook her!) and a nearby cafe fixed me up with a genuinely magnificent all-day breakfast, I thought I'd head over to the other side of town and visit my detective's house.

Stackpool Road is somewhere I've been before, but only briefly and only in my car. Walking there, then walking into town from there, has given me a great insight into what it would be like to live in that part of Bristol. Hopefully, that will come across in the Eye Contact edits, as well as the sequel. In any event, I got that same feeling of correctness that I had in Redland and Clifton Village.

Three out of three! And there's still half a weekend left to go...

Saturday 16 July 2011

Friday Feeling

Even for a Friday, that was pretty damn good.

Yesterday turned out to be a day of days, with a rather special trip to London. My agent, the excellent Eve White, had arranged a meeting with a potential publisher and, filled with excitement and trepidation, I met up with her and off we went.

Over the next couple of hours, we met a whole host of really lovely people to discuss the book, two sequels, and the process of becoming an established author. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't flattering to be so absolutely the centre of attention, as influential person after influential person came into the room to meet me and tell me how much they'd enjoyed reading Eye Contact. However, the more I've thought about it, the more I've come to realize that it was also the shock of so many people having actually read the story that really got to me. Up until now, only a handful of very trusted people have seen it. Suddenly, a procession of literary heavyweights were shaking my hand and telling me how much they enjoyed the book. It was a surreal experience - almost as if they'd mistaken me for someone else, and were offering compliments on some other novel - and quite overwhelming at times. Fortunately, Eve was there to calmly focus our discussions on the creative side of things and defer business matters to another day.

Which brings me onto the second high-spot of the morning. A key purpose of the visit was to meet the woman who would potentially be my editor - not just on Eye Contact, but on the whole series. Eve wanted to see how I got on with her, and whether we had a common vision for the books. As our discussions progressed, it became clear that she really gets the story and understands where I'm hoping to take the characters. She made a number of suggestions, all of which rang true with me, and the icing on the cake was when she correctly predicted the ending of book two.

And afterwards, still numb from the excitement of the morning, a lunchtime stroll in the sunshine led onto a pleasing afternoon meeting about a new iOS project for work. I even got a seat on the train home.

Next Friday has a lot to live up to!

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Shoot First

My thanks to Ali Downie and Hema Vyas for giving me the opportunity to do my first photoshoot with a real model. Despite the weather it was an enjoyable and informative experience, and I certainly learned a lot.

Hema arranged things and took care of makeup and styling - two things I know very little about - and Ali was extremely patient as we dragged her around the mean streets of Winchester, especially as it emerged that she had tragically missed breakfast.

An overcast sky meant the light wasn't great, but the results were quite pleasing. I wish I'd given Ali more guidance, but I found myself concentrating on technical / composition issues for a lot of the time. Hopefully, as I become more practiced, these things won't be so distracting and I can devote my attention to better model direction.

Still, for a first attempt, I'm happy with the photos. Watch my Flickr feed for more images in the coming days.