Apology to Friends and Neighbours

I’ve always felt guilty about exploiting my friends when it comes to story ideas but it has never stopped me doing so! Whatever I learn from, or merely sense about an acquaintance or neighbour is all too often primped and twisted into a story thread. I can’t help it. I blithely tell people there’s a man in my village whom I’ve murder three times (in my head, you understand!). He’s met a sticky end twice in television series that I’ve written for and once in a Nathan Hawk Murder Mystery. The trouble is that he won’t lie down. Which I suppose is just as well – for both of us.

Anyway, a dear friend and mentor passed away some time ago after a long and successful life. The other day I received a package from her executor. It contained a painting of an East Coast village, Walberswick, a costume jewellery necklace and three books. Each of the latter had a newspaper cutting tucked between the pages and pencil notes in the margin. An hour after receiving it I’d stepped sideways into story mode and I asked myself the following: suppose my friend had been trying to tell me something, using the painting, the necklace and the books to do so? Stepping even farther sideways, did the items contain information about the way she and others might have died? Was she murdered?

I admit that that’s as far as I’ve got, but having finished White Crane (at least to my own satisfaction) I’m anxious to move on to another Nathan Hawk Mystery. That in itself is fairly worrying. It seems I need a parallel fictional world to inhabit daily, in order to stay reasonably sane.

For an easy explanation of that peculiarity I blame lockdown. I blame it for much else as well. It was supposed to give me time to get so much writing done, but on the contrary it brought its own problems and has slowed me down. I’m now about six months behind in my work and seem to have spent much of my free time trawling the telly for something decent to watch. On which note, am I the only person in the world who is sick to death of bent coppers? I’m not just talking about Line of Duty but every other police series from The Bill to Endeavour, Gently to Bloodlands and many, many more. They all have dead easy dodgy copper stories and they’re all as boring as hell in their sameishness. There’s one exception which I can thoroughly recommend and it’s Martin Freeman’s performance as Phil Rask, an FBI agent in the tv series Startup. The benign Dr Watson to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Homes is absolutely terrifying in it so watch with caution!

White Crane Book by author Douglas Watkinson


Douglas Watkinson is an English novelist, playwright and screenwriter.

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