Shadow Man has now gone through its final edits – gulp! What that means is that really, Orion now have the final version – apart from page proof checking (which is where I go through line-by-line to weed out any remaining spelling or punctuation horrors), from now on the writing work on Shadow Man is over. It’s even in Orion’s July ’17 – January ’18 catalogue now, so I think that means it really is a thing.
So of course, this is where I start to get twitchy. Thinking about all the things I should have written differently, panicking that the book is really the most awful tosh and no-one is ever going to want to read it – or if they do, it’s only so they can send for the Writing Police and cart me off to Bad Writers’ Prison. Luckily, I had a (sort of) diversion planned – this weekend, I went to this event:
In a weekend of fascinating talks, one that really stood out for me was by retired detective, Tom Wood, who was involved in the investigation into the World’s End murders in 1970s Edinburgh. Briefly, in 1977 two young girls, Christine Eadie and Helen Scott, were murdered by Angus Sinclair and Gordon Hamilton (his brother in law, now deceased).
It was a brutal double murder which horrified the whole country. The attempt to bring the killers to justice took nearly forty years (and led to the repeal of ‘double jeopardy’ legislation in Scots law). But what struck me was the passion in Wood’s voice as he described Sinclair’s evil and the effect of his crimes on the victims’ families – forty years later, the case was still emblazoned on Wood’s psyche and his anger was a palpable thing. He referred to the seventeen year-old girls as ‘children’ throughout, and of course he was right – they were young girls, celebrating leaving school and getting their first pay packet by going out for a drink. And what happened to them (link to Wood’s book below) was beyond evil:
Wood’s talk was moving, and also incredibly heartening for me – in Shadow Man, I have three pretty gruesome murders, but I really try to focus on how these events affect the families, and of course the investigating detectives. In Tom Wood, I found the embodiment of the kind of compassion my DI Lukas Mahler brings to his work, and it gives me a little more confidence that, even if I’ve made some horrible procedural gaffes in the course of the novel, at least this is something I’ve got more or less spot on.
And I sort of think I’m happy with that.