How much planning and thinking do you do before writing a crime novel? Pauline Rowson, crime author, discusses her methods

I was recently asked this question by a writer on Linked In so thought I'd pen my answer here too.I am always thinking about and collecting ideas for future DI Horton crime novels or for a thriller, even when I am writing one. I will jot these down, or cut out an article from a magazine or newspaper, or copy or bookmark something I have seen on the Internet that could be of use. I keep all the paper copies in A4 ring binders in alphabetical order and often flick through them if and when I get stuck while writing a novel because invariably it will spark an idea.
When starting a fresh crime novel I often have the basic idea in mind. I will start to flesh this out using spider grams to work up the basic plot lines and character outlines in pencil on recycled bits of A4 paper. This will be by no means the finished plot or all the characters who might eventually appear in the novel, and often I create some characters that won’t appear in the novel at all because when I start to write it they are no longer relevant. I don’t know how the novel will end or who ‘done it’ that becomes apparent as I write.
I like to start the creative writing process as soon as possible, knowing that the first couple of chapters will change drastically by the time I come to do revisions.  But until I start writing and putting words into the character’s mouths and have them acting and reacting they don’t come alive. I then research further as I write. So on average I spend about month working on the outlines before I start writing. 
Then it usually takes me another eight months before finishing the crime novel.

I have just completed number eight in the DI Horton series and have started working on the outlines and characters for the next DI Horton, number nine.

A Killing Coast,the seventh in the DI Horton marine mystery series was published in hardcover in January.

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