Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Pants on Fire ...

While doing signings recently I have met some amazing people and have had some very interesting conversations that you don't necessarily foresee having at noon on a wet afternoon in Ayrshire. One of them got me thinking about my writing process. The conversation went like this. Kinda.

‘So you tell lies for a living then?’ she arched an eyebrow and offered a half-smile.

'Well...’ I answered and wondered if she was looking down on me, or looking up to me. ‘ You could say that.’

Fair enough. Professional liar, that’s me.  I spend hours making stuff up and let me tell you it’s great fun. Sometimes, when the lies aren’t flowing – not so much.

I looked it up in the dictionary to be sure.

Liar – noun - someone who tells lies.  Yup, that’s me.

Lie -  noun – a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive.  Fair enough. Guilty as charged. As a crime writer I often make such statements, but we call it misdirection. You look there, but I’m really going over here.

On the other hand if I didn’t also include the truth, the lies wouldn’t be quite so convincing. Every character I write about, I write about them in a manner that is true to them. Their actions and reactions are completely true to the person they are.  

I work at finding the truth of my characters’ emotions. How do they feel and why do they feel it? I hitch on to that and you, the reader (hopefully) take up their cause. Then for the crime writer those other truths are required. Whodunnit and more importantly in my view, why they did it. As a human being myself (I know – hard to believe) I am fascinated by other human beings and what makes them tick and in my humble opinion no genre gets to the heart of this more than crime fiction.

The trick, as a writer, is to leave yourself out of it. How often have you read something where it reads like the author is venting? Where you are removed from the story while thinking, who’s talking here? The character or the author?

So, hands up. I make up lies and give them a core of honesty. And as all the best fibbers know, the most convincing lies are the ones that stick most closely to the truth.

BTW – just so you know – BLOOD TEARS will shortly be available on e-book. And there will be all kinds of events throughout the country.

Be sure to stay tuned for more exciting news. Kinda.


  1. Hey, I lie and try to convince you there's a whole race of people living in a galaxy far away.
    Or do I...?

  2. It really is about finding the truth inside the lie, isn't it? Er, that may or may not be the truth, I don't really trust myself anymore.

    1. You could tie yourself up on knots with that kind of thinking, LG.

  3. It's great being able to make things up and be paid for it!

    1. Absolutely, Rosemary. It's all a form of play innit? And to get (some) money for doing it is a bonus.

  4. Hi Michael, so pleased about the book and so sorry I missed the launch night at the Library. Hope to see you soon at AWC:-) Well done:-)

  5. Thanks for popping by - and taking the time to say so, Katbalou. Whoever you are. Gaunnae geezaclue?