Crime Writing


Memories turn into nightmares, until writing makes them something to be proud of While working on my second Palestinian crime novel, A Grave in Gaza, I sometimes wept as I wrote. I used to think that meant I was a damned good writer. Far be it from me to dispute that self-assessment, but now I know it was my trauma, collected over a decade of monthly visits to Gaza, seeping onto the page. It was a kind of trauma writing therapy, but I...

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Writing the truth by turning to fiction, instead of journalism Journalism is fiction. Don’t believe me? Open a newsmagazine and you’ll be expected to believe that a given Hollywood star is actually a nice man, that you can drive everywhere and not get fat provided you lay off fruit, and that the latest development in the Middle East gives hope that things there will get better: well, of course, he isn’t, you...

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How Hammett’s classic ‘The Maltese Falcon’ showed me what kind of writer to be As an undergraduate I studied English literature at Oxford University and I read all I could find of the sort of literary criticism which made novels seem like East German economic analysis. Three years later, I hadn’t learned a thing, except that it was fine to have a room you could take a girl to without having to sneak past your...

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Remember how it feels to feel bad, endure it positively, and write it down When something bad happens to a writer, the experience is great material for something bad happening to your characters. Remember the feelings, the way your mind processed it and the sensations of tension in your heart, your veins. Get it all down on paper and save it for when you need to give those emotions to a character. The experience can teach you how to...

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Thriller writers who use Twitter as more than a place for press releases Twitter is about connecting. Some crime novelists, however, clearly don’t write their own tweets. Other thriller writers openly declare that their account is managed by their “team.” I say humbug to this one-way-street view of Twitter. This list includes those who’re very much engaged and worth following: Connect with Harlan Coben Witticisms that seem to come...

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Child’s evocation of the Dakota winter shows how well he writes Lee Child is justly famous for creating a compelling main character in the loner Jack Reacher and for building plots that turn the pages for you — and fast. In 61 Hours Lee Child shows how well he can create an atmosphere and a location. The frozen tundra of Dakota is the setting and it’s almost a character in the plot. After I read 61 Hours I went back to some...

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