I guess most people presume that an author is in complete control of their work – their words and their characters. So perhaps it comes as a surprise to you that I’ve only just worked out/decided whodunit it for book 4 in the Sophie Anderson series. Scary, but true.

My mum came to baby-sit last Friday (as she does every Friday) and I confided in her: ‘I’m getting kinda worried, mum, because I’m 80,000 words in and I still don’t know whodunit.’ She gave me a look…the ‘you gotta be kidding me!’ look. Like I wasn’t stressed enough!!??

But, after a little bit of brainstorming with hubby, a few index cards (great for structure) and a little bit of soul-searching, the haze has cleared.

I’m now 90,000 words in, and I know exactly what I have to write to finish this first draft for my 30 May deadline. Phew!


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Comment by Elizabeth Zelvin on April 23, 2008 at 1:11am
I write the way you do, Phillipa. It's an anxiety-producing process, but eventually it works. On one manuscript, I decided in advance that the literary agent would be the murderer (picking up on a playful suggestion on the AgentQuest e-list, where Guppies in search of an agent share some painful experiences). But when I got to about 70,000 words, another character butted in: "Me! Me! I want to kill the SOB!" What can a mere author do but comply when a character expresses a strong opinion?

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