Move over, Dustin Hoffman. Whereas method acting was once hot news, now it’s method writing. Writers aren’t just metaphorically putting themselves into their character’s heads, they’re living their lives for real to see how it feels.
It isn’t for me – I found it challenging enough writing from the perspective of sleazy Tony in Up In Smoke or lost Jed in After The Interview. Simply imagining their thoughts, experiencing their emotions, made me tense and uncomfortable. When I’m working with characters whose values are so different from my own, I can’t wait to take a deep breath, close the laptop, and leave them behind for a while.
I do think research is important, though. Although that may involve enlisting a friendly policeman or lawyer to check my facts, sometimes there’s no substitute for personal experience. I was lucky enough to use a friend’s flat for a chapter in The Bride’s Trail – see the photo above – and visit pubs like The Plough in Harborne and the colourful Rose Villa Tavern (both highly recommended). Research also took me to casinos for The Bride’s Trail and there’s an imminent trip to a vodka distillery for the next book. As they say – it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!
Having lived, worked and breathed in three British cities, I write crime thrillers set in my old stamping grounds of Birmingham and London. The Bride’s Trail centres on the hunt for a missing croupier. Will her friends or her killers find her first? As for the vodka – watch this space!