With great timing, I’m delighted to welcome Alice Castle to my blog on the day of her new book release. I can’t wait to read The Invitation, which dropped into my Kindle this morning 🙂
Why I write by Alice Castle
I just can’t help it. That’s by far the simplest answer to the question of why I write. I am currently between book projects and, as is usual at these times, I am beginning to notice something about my shopping lists and my comments on birthday cards, my emails and even my texts. They are all getting longer. I have a simple need to let words out onto a page. If I don’t do it, they spill out in other ways. I go a bit mad if I don’t have a book to put them in.
That doesn’t mean writing is always easy. I’m lucky enough not to suffer (so far, I’m touching wood) from writer’s block, thanks to an early career on national newspapers. Once you’ve been shouted at by editors who need that copy now, if not sooner, you stop being too precious about its production. Having said that, I’ve often sat and written, knowing that what I’m producing is not up to scratch. I am a firm believer, though, that anything is better than the blank page. Whatever words you get down, however wrong the order they’re in, you can improve them if you really try.
Why I write crime fiction, of all things, is even more complicated. I remember reading PD James’s whodunit, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, many years ago. It’s a great story, but the title perhaps made even more of an impression. I was sure PD James meant not simply that being a private eye was considered unladylike, but also that writing such stories was too. Dead bodies, nasty people – all that unpleasantness. Why would she, and I, want to get our hands dirty? When I interviewed PD James some years later (another perk of working on a paper was that I got to choose some fabulous people to talk to) she gave me lots of explanations about puzzles and the delights of solving them – and I think all that was absolutely true. I think there is something else, though, that drives women to write crime fiction.
They always say write what you know, and crime fiction is fundamentally about fear. Women know fear. Events in the UK in the last couple of weeks have brought to a head what we have all known forever – our streets are not safe, if you’re a woman. Fifty-one per cent of the population routinely plan their strategy for getting home in the evenings, guarding against the aggression displayed by some of the other 49 per cent. We all know it isn’t all men, but the fact that we don’t know, until it is too late, which particular ones it is, means that every journey down a darkened street becomes a sort of Russian roulette and our survival is an exhilarating bonus.
Against this background, this life, the writing of crime fiction seems less like a peculiar hobby than a bona fide calling. If there is anything in a crime novel that can help another woman develop her own survival strategy, then I think what I do is worthwhile. Even pointing out the ridiculous horror that we all have to walk with our keys in our hands, talking on the phone, walking down the middle of well-lit streets, and that these precautions might not be even be enough, seems important. It means the subject isn’t being ignored yet again. There is also considerable satisfaction in writing about, or reading of, a just universe where perpetrators get caught and held to account. If only that were always the case.
When looked at from this angle, the surprise becomes that some women authors aren’t choosing to specialise in crime. No wonder I write it. And no wonder it’s the UK’s favourite genre. It’s a matter of life and death.
If you’d like to read my latest book, The Invitation, it’s out on 26th March and available here: http:www.MyBook.to/CastleInvitation.
About the Author:
Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a feature writer on national newspapers including the Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. She writes the Death in Dulwich cozy crime series for Darkstroke/Crooked Cat as Alice Castle and psychological thrillers for HQDigital under the name A.M. Castle. Her latest book, The Invitation, will be published by HQDigital in 2021. Find her on Twitter, @AliceMCastle, or on her websites http://www.dulwichdivorcee.com and http://www.alicecastleauthor.com. She lives in south east London with her two daughters and two cats.
Amazon UK author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Alice-Castle/e/B06WLPV46S/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1
Amazon US author page: https://www.amazon.com/Alice-Castle/e/B06WLPV46S/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1
Links to buy books: