Given the state of UK politics and the really terrible events that have been happening in the world, for the first time ever I’ve had a few twinges of guilt about writing relatively frivolous murder mystery fiction. Surely this would be a good time to start on another bleak dystopian novel with perhaps a climate apocalypse thrown in?
Image: Thunderstorm near Holy Island, Northumberland
But writing fiction doesn’t work like that, at least in my experience. I don’t mean to compare myself to Jane Austen, but the horrors of the Napoleonic Wars are only represented in her fiction by the presence of red-coated army officers lounging at corners and attending balls in various rural and semi-rural locations, or captains retiring from the Royal Navy and returning to civilian life, often apparently unscathed by whatever their wartime experiences were.
So I am pressing on with my lightweight mysteries in the hope that, just as I can escape from reality in writing them, my readers can also escape for a somewhat shorter time while reading. Occasionally I will incorporate a kind of cut-down version of something that has been in the news. So I have had a local council bye-election in one story, and some refugees in another. I can’t really see how Brexit can be used to improve a storyline – it’s too new and raw at the moment, quite apart from the fact that nobody has any idea what will happen next in the real world, so things would have to be much further forward – or backward, as the case may be – before I could allow it to have any impact on my fictional town.