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Thought that'd get you reading!

A slightly naughty question has arrived in my inbox, as it were.  It's this - why are there no sex scenes in the tvdetective books?

Yet again, as with so many inquiries from my wise and perceptive readers, it's a darned good one.

As befits the nature of the question, I shall be frank and answer by telling you a little story. 

When first I began writing, some 7 years ago now, I got to a point in A Popular Murder, where Dan and Kerry became so intertwined they were about to do what boys and girls have been doing for many a year.

From my subsequent  conversations with other writers, I now know this presents a dilemma for us all.  Romance is an inevitable part of most books, and when it comes to fruition that leaves the author a choice.  Do you follow the characters into the bedroom to reveal to the world what goes on there, or cease your journey at the bedroom door?

Filled with enthusiasm for my new found writing, on my first attempt I went into the bedroom with the lucky couple to observe and describe (imagine the scene!) and wrote it all up.

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My little (not black) book

I often get asked what I think are the indispensable tools for a writer.

Well, there are many - imagination, persistence, writing ability, determination, the list goes on and on.  But an often overlooked, although very important part of that, is a little notebook.

I find ideas for plots, characters, locations, or just pieces of dialogue can strike me anywhere and at any time, and it's maddening if you haven't got something to write them down on. If you're like me, a good idea can pop into mind, only to be long forgotten a few minutes later.

Hence, these days I carry with me, and just about everywhere, a little pocket notebook. It's not black, but a rather bright blue and white striped number. The reason for this is simple - it means I'm less likely to lose it!

It's become a subject of some amusement for my friends - we can be out having a drink, a meal, a walk, and like a gentleman of old with his sword, I'll whip out my notebook and scrawl something down.

If ever I'm stuck for an idea when writing a new book, whether it's a bit of plot, or a quirk of character, back to the notebook I go and usually the little tome of wisdom can provide an answer, or at least a suggestion to help.

If you're trying to write a book, along with all the other traits I've mentioned, I'd thorougly recommend getting yourself a pocket notebook.  It'll be a few pounds very well invested.

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This may come to be a rather ironic blog, as fashion is something I never really got the hang of. I've got an amusing little tale to impart on the subject - at least I think so - but more of that in a moment.

I'm prompted to write about the issue of fashion, because of a conversation I had with a stranger earlier this week. The lady in question was kind enough to comment on the ties I wear, but then went on to say that there's little in the tvdetective books about Dan's dress sense.

In this she has a good point. I suppose it's because of the relative priorities of the characters - Adam's attire often gets a mention, as he's a fashion victim, but Dan seldom worries too much about such matters.  As I'm often asked how much of Dan is made up of myself, and usually fudge the answer, here at least I can say it's a fair comment - fashion isn't exactly my strongest subject either.  Hence I suppose it not featuring highly in the books.

As an aside here, a good friend once said that I found a style I liked in the mid 80s, and have stuck with it ever since. The cheek of it!  I was about to remonstrate when I realised he may have a point!

So, back to that incredibly amusing fashion story I promised you. In an attempt to be with it, as it were, I recently bought one of those ultra cool Superdry sweatshirts. It's a fine piece of fabric, very warm and comfortable, and indeed, I'm assured, wonderfully trendy.

But this is the point.  When I did some washing this week, and a couple of days later came to take the sweatshirt in question off the drier, guess what?  It was the only item of all the collection which wasn't dry!

Oh, the irony!  Oh, how I laughed...

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The trials of technology

A fortnight ago, my old mobile phone was adjudged as sufficiently battered and ill functioning for me to be awarded a new one.  I was pleased about this - until the moment the thing arrived and I started trying to work it.

It was hardly the most encouraging of signs that it took a full 15 minutes to sort out how to get the back off and the battery in.  However!  Undaunted, I overcame that considerable hurdle, only to utterly thrown by what awaited me when I got as far as switching the phone on.

The new phone is one of those touchscreen things. It took me a while to understand why there was no keyboard... As for what it can do, the list is seemingly endless - surf this new fangled internet thing, send and receive emails, find out the weather anywhere in the world, tell me my GPS position, inform me of my appointments, so much in fact I was a little disappointed there wasn't a function to iron my shirts and cook my tea.

Anyhow, aside from pointing out what a technophobe I can be, the other thrust of this blog is to crow my achievement.  You'll be so impressed, I know.  Two weeks on and I have at last mastered how to make and receive calls, and send texts too. Now, how about that for progress?!

The real point of this blog, apart from wondering about the extraordinary advances of science etc., is to lament how such remarkable bits of kit can make the life of a crime writer much harder.  These days, it's more or less impossible to put a victim somewhere where he or she can't phone for help.  And as for disguising the movements of a murderer, it's not so easy when their mobile can be traced to within a few inches...

One final word on the subject of technology, and again I think you'll be impressed. Today, it being a Saturday of leisure and all that, I've decided to attempt to be ultra cool and modern and try to load some music onto my phone.  Something about MP3 players, or some other such jargon?  The only trouble is, looking at the phone, I just can't work out where to slot the MP3s in...

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An unwanted birthday present

Apologies for being out of touch awhile, but I've been suffering with a cold.

Now I know some of the less kind hearted types amongst you - if any such people could ever read my blog! - will immediately accuse me of overdoing my suffering, but boy, has it felt rough. Forget accusations of man flu, this has been more a mix of the plague, Lassa Fever, Black Death and many other an awful ailment all in one.

In short, as you may have guessed, I've been feeling more than a little sorry for myself. That sensation has only been enhanced by the fact that it was my birthday last week, and a cold seems a most unfair present from the fates.

(Incidentally here, many thanks to all of you who were kind enough to get in touch and wish me a good birthday - which I did my best to have, despite my suffering.)

I resent illness on many levels.  I hate feeling rough, I hate being cooped up at home without the energy to do much, and I hate the way it effects my writing. It makes knocking together any decent efforts at a book so difficult when you have to struggle to concentrate.

However, the good news is that I'm now feeling much improved and the scribbling has resumed. So I can respond to a question that I keep being asked - how is progress on the new tvdetective book going?

The answer is - very nicely.  The first draft is done, so it's now into the reading through and editing, sharpening up, cutting the unnecessary waffle, removing inconsistencies, all that sort of thing.  And it's a pleasure to be back at it, now that I'm once more feeling as near to human as the Hall ever gets.

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Birthday thanks

May I say a sizeable thank you to everyone who's gotten in touch to wish me a Happy Birthday.

In the traditional manner, I shan't be revealing the exact vintage of the Hall, but I'm well aware with this new fangled internet thing that it isn't too tricky to work out.

When you do, if you do, please say - Well, I'd never have guessed, rather than something like - Blimey, you look much older...

Despite my advancing years, the problem is that I still think I'm about 19 or so, inside my little mind at least. Perhaps that's one of the failings - definitions even?! - of being a man.  I'm well aware I'm not a teenager any more, because every time I go for a run I pant and sweat in a way that alarms all those unfortunate enough to be around.

It's an odd birthday this one, the first since the couple of family losses I've suffered over the last few months.  So I'm feeling a little reflective, although also warmed and flattered by the series of kind messages I've received.

Also, to compound the oddness of the emotions, as if fate is having a laugh at my expense I've managed to catch a cold.  Now, what kind of a birthday present is that?!

Finally for this post, one more thought - why must birthdays usually be on schooldays? My vote for the next Act of Parliament to be sponsored by one of us is for a Birthdays Only to Fall at Weekends Bill.  Wouldn't that make life more pleasant?

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