The Writing Seasons

It took me a few years to notice it, but there are definitely right and wrong seasons in which to set a book.

It was only after my fourth novel, The Judgment Book - a lovely cheery tale of human follies, blackmail and death - that I realised I tend to set my stories in the winter or autumn.

That wasn't planned in any grand sense, that they were the best times for creating the atmosphere I intended, it just happened.

And then I worked out why - if you're writing crime, with all the darkness it entails, you don't want lots of sunshine and light about, do you? That combo only goes and makes people happy and smiley, and you just can't have that in a crime novel.

I suspect it's down to the all important feel thing of this writing lark. You don't stop to ask why, you may not even know, but the way you write something just feels like it's doing the job.

On the subject of seasons, and feeling right, a quick visual interlude from these autumn days -

Seasons quay.jpg

My beloved River Exe, at dawn at the weekend - just the sort of scene to set you up for some writing.

Anyway, back to the seasonal backdrop of a book. I did a little checking around and lo and behold, upon scanning through a few romance type novels I found many set in spring or summer.

Being me, I did then try writing one book in the warmer months (The Balance of Guilt, my fifth), and I think it worked, but only because I made some of the heat so oppressive the poor characters spent much of the novel drenched in sweat.

If not rain and cold, then baking heat - I'll create an unpleasant atmosphere and make my poor imaginary friends suffer somehow.

But it is worth thinking about when you're planning a story, because it's such an overarching part of the backdrop and I now do so more carefully. Choose your season with care!