As a child I loved reading and could always be found with my head buried in a book. As I result I quickly outgrew children’s fiction and turned to my parents’ eclectic book collection (sometimes even having to resort to sneaking a read when my parents went out, given the adult content of some of the novels). But it was my mum’s collection of novels by the doyens of crime (Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Ruth Rendell, Georges Simenon…) that got me hooked. That’s when it happened, when I fell in love with crime.
So, like so many young adults with a dream and a passion, what did I do? I went to university and studied chemistry. They say, there’s nothing like living the dream… and it really wasn’t. It was while in my second year, realising I didn’t look good in white and unhappy with the prospect of a life in a lab, I allowed myself to dream. I scoured the local free ads and happened upon an old second-hand Olivetti typewriter and set about writing a murder mystery in the style of Agatha Christie to give to my mum for her birthday (by then her actual Agatha Christie collection was complete).
If you’ve never tried to write a first draft of a novel on an old typewriter, with no auto-correct, no back space and no cut and paste function you should try it. It’s fun. NOT.
Dreams soon turned to reams and reams of paper littered with handwritten corrections and stapled-on amendments. It really did look like someone had put a monkey in a room with a typewriter. Shakespeare it certainly wasn’t.
Realising this writing lark wasn’t quite as easy as it seemed, I did what any self-respecting wannabe author with a passion for crime fiction did. I went on and got my doctorate in chemistry.
And I didn’t like it any more than I did my degree. Go figure.
At this point you’d think perhaps I’d give the old writing thing a go. Maybe train as a journalist, or take a creative writing course. I did actually apply for a couple of technical writing positions and trade press copy editor apprenticeships, but the prospect of writing about the new advances in photocopying didn’t really appeal. Not unless it’s possible to kill someone by extracting the selenium out of the copier… now that’s an idea!
But back to reality. I trained as an accountant. Hmm.
Now I could bore you with what happened next but taking a leaf out of the wonderful Elmore Leonard’s book, I shall leave out the parts the readers tend to skip.
Suffice to say: Now I write.