Today I’m pleased to welcome Rachel Ward to the blog. Rachel is the author of the Young Adult novels The Chaos and the Numbers trilogy and her debut novel for adults, The Cost of Living is published by Sandstone Press on 21 September 2017.
Today Rachel talks about looking for clues.
Regular followers of my Twitter account (@RachelWardbooks) may know that I go for two or three walks a day with my dog, and usually post a photograph. Since starting to write my cosy crime book, The Cost of Living, I’ve found that as well as observing the weather, the light and the wildlife, I am consciously looking for clues.
My ‘detectives’ in The Cost of Living are Bea, a supermarket checkout worker, and her friend Ant, a new trainee. They are both young and, although they are quite determined to investigate the murder of one of their co-workers, they are obviously not trained for the job. In that way, they are like you and me (unless you are a detective reading this, in which case, ‘Hi,’ and ‘Ooh, let’s talk.’). Trying to get into their heads, I started looking out for things on my daily walks that Ant and Bea themselves might find.
It’s fascinating once you start. Ordinary ‘rubbish’ takes on new significance – a train or bus ticket yields information about its previous owner. A child’s lost toy becomes desperately poignant. A rucksack floating in the river causes anxiety about how it got there and whether the owner joined it or is safe on dry land. I find myself inventing stories to go with the clues. Whether or not they end up in a book (and I’m sure some of them will), it’s a fun and fascinating exercise.
I usually take a photograph of the ‘evidence’, before picking it up if it is rubbish and not too yucky, and I’m building up quite a folder of pictures. I was looking through them the other day and realised that one of them may in fact be one of the keys to the book that I am currently writing. I need to skim back several chapters and plant it. If you are a writer, and looking for a writing prompt, you could do worse than take yourself for a walk and then compose a little story about one of the clues you find.
I’m going to keep walking and keep looking, always remembering to look up, too, and enjoy the fresh air.
About the book
After a young woman is brutally attacked on her way home from the local supermarket, checkout girl Bea is determined to find out who’s responsible. She enlists the help of Ant, the seemingly gormless new trainee – but can she really trust him? Customers and colleagues become suspects, secrets are uncovered, and while fear stalks the town, Bea risks losing the people she loves most.
About the author
Rachel Ward is a best-selling writer for young adults. Her first book, Numbers, was published in 2009 and shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. An avid reader of detective fiction, The Cost of Living is her first book for adults. Rachel lives in Bath with her husband, and has two grown-up children.