Having said that…
It’s a well-known fact that I hate research. Hate it. I’m glad that, if I need to visit foreign shores, I can jump onto Google Earth and fly straight to the street, cathedral, house, park or whatever it is I’m describing. It’s not as good as actually being there, but it does help. On the whole though, I like to set my books locally so that if I need to describe a special place, I can whistle the dogs and set off with them to have a good look at it.
One advantage of this is that when I’m asked if there are any visual elements to the book that might help a cover artist, I can say “Why, yes…” and send a photo I’ve taken.
In Silent Witness for example, one scene takes place on a bleak hillside where the only signs of life are a few sheep and the Singing Ringing Tree. This a musical sculpture, designed to resemble a tree bending in the wind, that hums through specially designed pipes. For the story, I needed to hear it ‘sing‘ so I took the dogs for a walk and we had a good listen. I then needed to convey the impression of the sculpture to the cover artist so I sent her this:
The result was this - a fabulous cover showing one of my favourite places.
This is from the back cover:
After his ex-wife bled to death in a bathtub covered in his fingerprints, the case against Aleksander Kaminski seemed open and shut. Though sentenced to life in prison, he swears he's innocent, a claim supported by his current wife.
Private investigator Dylan Scott finds himself drawn back to dreary Lancashire in a search for justice. The evidence against Kaminski is damning, but having been unjustly jailed himself, Dylan is compelled to pursue the case; if there's even a small chance the man is innocent, he has to help. The other obvious suspect--the victim's second husband--has a watertight alibi. But Dylan has a strong hunch that as usual, there's more going on than meets the eye in Dawson's Clough.
The deeper Dylan digs, the more secrets he unearths. The question remains: If Kaminski didn't murder his childhood sweetheart, who did?
Silent Witness releases today - yes, today! - and I'm busy celebrating. (Help yourself to virtual chocolates and champagne!)
So while I’ve never had dinner with a killer (to my knowledge), perhaps being told to write about what you know isn’t quite as stupid as it sounds. What do you think?