…and a quick rewind back to the spring of 2015. I’d written some short stories and had what I call my ‘practice novel’, an exercise in psychological suspense that I’d finished but not particularly loved, languishing in my Dropbox. But my writing had evolved, I’d produced a distinctly dark and twisted short story set in Orkney, which I was rather fond of…and in the final few chapters of my novel, I’d made the acquaintance of one Detective Inspector Lukas Mahler.
Clever, complex Lukas. Son of a German father and Scots mother, Cambridge-educated Lukas, lover of the Italian Renaissance and master of the caustic put-down. Ex-Met DI Lukas, recently returned to Inverness and finding himself even more a fish out of water than usual. Lukas, who walked into the story and took it over.
Three things happened very quickly. I wrote the first few chapters of a novel set in Inverness, introducing Lukas and his female counterpart, Anna Murray. With great forebodings, but encouraged by my amazingly supportive husband, I made the decision to give up work – cue warning klaxon here, this is not a sensible thing to do! – and I attended a crimewriting course at Moniack Mhor run by Val McDermid and Louise Welsh.
Look, I’m not naturally a ‘joiner’ – I’m the classic introvert you’ll find quivering behind the foliage at parties – and I worked myself into a state of absolute terror at the though of getting feedback on my submitted chapters from writers like Val and Louise. But to my amazement, they were as encouraging as they were kind. For the first time, I started to believe that maybe becoming a writer really was something I could achieve.
And so the real work began…