• Richard James

Once More Unto The Breach...

When I tell people I'm writing the fourth novel in my Bowman Of The Yard series, I often get the same response; "I'm sure you know what you're doing by now!" You'd think so, wouldn't you? Actually, that couldn't be further from the truth. Despite having already written three novels in the series and half a dozen short stories from Bowman's Casebook (that's me in my slippers by the way, writing The Chiswick Robbery by the river at the bottom of my garden), I have to admit that, whenever I start a new story, it's like I've never written anything before. Ever.

The same doubts assail me. Can I do this? Should I do this? Whatever am I thinking? But, I've learned that very often, the books get written in spite of me. Setting aside enough time to write a thousand words a day (that's a full length novel in three months) means I approach the task in much the same way as a mountaineer might approach climbing Everest - one crag at a time. Before I know it, I've fooled myself into doing it again.

In this case, I'm helped by having three previous novels to draw upon in terms of characters - and a readership who will be familiar with them. We'll be revisiting some old favourites from previous stories as well as getting to know some new ones. But, even so, as far as the process of writing goes, it feels like I'm starting from scratch with every new story. Perhaps that's as well. As an actor, I know it doesn't do to examine the craft too closely. Acting is all about creating an illusion and doesn't bear scrutiny. Before you know it, you're dissecting the way an actor delivers a particular word and the magic is lost. Maybe it's the same with writing. Perhaps, the minute I have the gall to imagine I might actually know what I'm doing, it might all just fade away in a puff of smoke.

If you have yet to join the investigation, Bowman's story begins with the first novel, The Head In the Ice and continues through the short stories The Smithfield Murder and The Hackney Poisoning to the second novel, The Devil In The Dock. Two more short stories follow, The Hampstead Garrotting and The Holborn Strangler. The third novel in the series, The Body In The Trees, is followed by two more short stories, The Camden Kidnappings and The Chiswick Robbery! The short stories are set between the novels and are free to subscribers to my newsletter.

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