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Comment from the book world in April 2022

April 2022

'You don't have to worry about the plot, really'

18 April 2022

‘I thought I was going to write a great novel about social justice, it was going to be a great work of literature. I'm really quite good at character, I can build a character that people can believe in, but you can't just have them sitting around chatting in a room, something's got to happen. And I couldn't think what to make happen...' (her comfort reading was crime fiction, so she decided to kill someone off) ‘and then I was away, because you've got that structure with traditional crime fiction. You don't have to worry about the plot, really. You've got a body, you've got a limited number of suspects. And you've got some form of resolution. Somebody said it's like a corset to hold you up.'

Ann Cleeves, author of 39 crime novels, including the Palmer Joe, Vera Stanhope, Matthew Venn, Jimmy Perez and Inspector Ramsay series in the Bookseller


'How do I make it more exciting, funnier, more heartwarming?'

4 April 2022

‘I wanted the characters to do magic, but I didn't want them to be magic. I wanted a foundational mythology through the elements. When you run into pot holes it's sometimes quite tempting to fix it with magic. I resist that and want it always coming back to the elements or the bond so it feels believable...

I'm a really visual writer. If I can't see it I struggle to write it. It has to be able to play out as if it's a scene...

The more I know about the characters, the easier it is to find the humour. How do I make it more exciting, funnier, more heartwarming? I'm aways asking myself these questions. The message of the book is finding friends who accept you for who you really are. It's about loving people even when it's hard, about doing the right thing even when it's scary.'

A F Steadman, whose debut children's novel Skandar and the Unicorn Thief, the first in a five-book fantasy series, is published this month, in the Bookseller