Long gestation and the crime novel

Crime novelists generally write a novel a year. It’s what publishers want. Some big writers—and I mean, 25 million books sold—have told me their publishers and agents complain that if they don’t produce a book a year their readers will forget them.
In the case of such writers, some of those 25 million may have degenerative diseases and others may be plain stupid, but in all likelihood about 24 million of them will remember a writer whose book they read, let’s say, two years ago.
Nonetheless the expectation remains that a book a year will be forthcoming. So do all crime writers have one good idea a year? Or do ideas take longer to gestate? And if they do, where does that leave the writer who needs to get words on paper right now.
In the case of my latest novel MOZART’S LAST ARIA (out now in the UK, but not until November in the US), it was eight years between the initial idea and publication. A most un-crime-fiction-like timescale.
It began with a trip I took with my wife into the Salzkammergut, to find peace among the mountains and lakes at a time when we were living through the Palestinian intifada in Jerusalem. There we stumbled across the remote house where Mozart’s sister Nannerl had lived and a fascination with her was born.
It was nurtured through future visits to Vienna, to Prague (where Mozart’s operas are still performed in the Estates Theater, scene of his “Don Giovanni” premier), dinners with Maestro Zubin Mehta at which we discussed our mutual admiration for the great composer (though it shan’t surprise you to learn that his understanding of the music is on a somewhat, ahem, more elevated level than mine…)

Read the rest of this post on my blogThe Man of Twists and Turns.

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Comment by Matt Rees on May 21, 2011 at 6:14pm
Comment by O'Neil De Noux on May 21, 2011 at 1:04am
Why listen to publishers? What do they know? How to run business badly. It's taking sailing lessons from the captain of TITANIC.

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