Today on the first stop of his blog tour, David Jackson talks about the items he cannot write without.
It ought to be simple. Pen and paper. What more could you possibly need to write? Sit over there and get some words down.
Not always that easy. At least, not for me. Maybe I'm just fussy, but conditions have to be right if I'm to produce anything worth reading. I don't think I'm talking about anything extreme or weird here – I don't need to write in the nude while sitting on a space hopper, for example (that one occasion was just an experiment) – but I do have a few meagre requirements. Here they are:
This is a must for me. Some writers like to work to music. I can't do that, especially if it contains lyrics. I just end up singing along and dancing around the room and looking stupid. I can just about cope with some muted background conversation, but if it rises above a certain threshold, then be prepared for me to take drastic action (by which I mean I'll stomp out of the room in a huff).
Pen and paper? What century is this, anyway? I've tried it, and believe me, it sucks. I get aching wrists, ink all over my hands, and my writing quickly degenerates into something less readable than that produced by a chimp with a crayon. Give me technology every time. The computer and I have an understanding. It lays its keyboard bare, ready for me to thrash it with my words. I pound my thoughts into it with impunity, and always it comes back for more. Except when its battery dies, and then I loathe it with a passion.
Hot beverages must be supplied at regular and frequent intervals. Which is a bummer when I'm the one who has to get up and make them. I mean, I have to break off my train of thought, leave my comfortable writing environment, go all the way downstairs, fill the kettle, wait for it to boil, make the damn drink, then carry it all the way back upstairs, where I'll put it on a coaster and forget to drink it – so why the hell do I bother?
A blank page (or in my case, a blank screen – see above) would bother me enormously if I didn't have a writing plan. It would stare at me and I would stare back, until one of us started crying (so that would be me, then). It doesn’t have to be anything plotted out to the nth degree, but I do need to know where I’m going next. If I’m left to drift aimlessly, I just end up in the pub.
I don't mean any old family. I'm not saying I have to pay the Wainwrights down the road to come and cheer me on while I write. I'm talking about my own nearest and dearest. Writing isn’t the most sociable of activities (in my day job I work with computer geeks, so trust me that this is my field of expertise). We often abandon family, friends and the cat to closet ourselves away while we use the computer to do things we class as work. I don’t think I’d be selfish enough to keep doing that if I suspected that my absence was greatly missed. Which it isn’t. Ever. So, hey, what kind of family is that anyway?
So there’s my list. What’s yours? (And if it features a space hopper, then I don’t want to know).
A Tapping at My Window by David Jackson (£18.99, Zaffre) out on 7th April 2016
A woman at home in Liverpool is disturbed by a persistent tapping at her back door. She's disturbed to discover the culprit is a raven, and tries to shoo it away. Which is when the killer strikes. DS Nathan Cody, still bearing the scars of an undercover mission that went horrifyingly wrong, is put on the case. But the police have no leads, except the body of the bird - and the victim's missing eyes. As flashbacks from his past begin to intrude, Cody realises he is battling not just a murderer, but his own inner demons too. And then the killer strikes again, and Cody realises the threat isn't to the people of Liverpool after all - it's to the police.
More information about David and his books can be found on his website. You can also follow him on Twitter @Author_Dave.