Creating enduring characters is the answer to a continuing literary career

Robert McCrum's excellent article in the Guardian at the weekend rang home with me. He said that "Despite the received wisdom of the book trade, writers don't have careers in the conventional sense. Each book emerges from a private imaginative landscape. But that's not a career, more a succession of leaps in the dark."

How true that is! McCrum says that "ideally the writer works only for him, or herself, on their own terms. They have no boss." And that all a writer can do is "put one book in front of the last, and go back to the empty page or vacant screen." "Every fresh start feels like an outrageous gamble against impossible odds."

Even if you are published, as I am, and are fortunate enough to have a book contract how do you know if the market and critics will love it? How do you know that your next book will be accepted? You don't.


But McCrum says that if writers don't have careers, their heroes certainly do. "Lee Child has Reacher; Ian Rankin has Rebus; PD James has Dalgliesh."  "Conan Doyle had Holmes, until he killed him off at the Reichenbach Falls, Fleming had Bond." And I have Horton.

My hero, DI Andy Horton, is the flawed and rugged Inspector in my series of marine mystery crime novels.

Horton is proving popular with readers as an enduring character with number six in the series published this year to excellent reviews in the States, Footsteps on the Shore, and number seven in the series, A Killing Coast to be published by Severn House in 2012.  I'm also contracted to write number eight in the Horton series, which I am currently doing. 

So I would very much like to see DI Andy Horton continue his career.  I've also got plans to write more thrillers (I've already written and published two: In Cold Daylight and In For The Kill) but this time I would like to write a thriller trilogy with a strong continuing character. Who knows if I will find a publisher for them, that is the gamble.

A continuing literary career then? I sincerely hope so providing I have the energy, mental capability, imagination and oh, hard graft to pursue it.

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