Rachel Ward on turning to crime
This year I’m turning to crime. Well, crime writing to be more precise. My first novel for adults, The Cost of Living, will be published by Sandstone Press in September. It’s a warm, contemporary tale of supermarkets, date nights and charity spinathons, wrapping around the darker thread of young women being attacked in a small market town. I’ve been writing YA thrillers for eleven years (published for eight) and so it feels a bit like changing horses in mid-stream. It wasn’t planned. Over the years, I’ve found that I don’t really choose what to write – my stories choose me. My mum hasn’t hidden her bemusement (and dismay) at me producing dark, scary tales for teenagers. ‘Where do they come from?’ she asks. The answer is mysterious. Who knows? I’ve surprised myself with all my books, and The Cost of Living is another surprise, but a completely different one.
In this case the change was led by my characters and their story. The main characters in The Cost of Living are Bea, who works on the checkouts at Costsave, a mid-range supermarket, and Ant, the seemingly gormless new trainee. Bea came to me first. In fact, she’s lived in my head for several years. I wondered for a long time if she was a Saturday girl, and if her story was YA, but when I started writing it was obviously an adult book and I settled on her being about twenty. I started writing the book almost by mistake. I was waiting for edits on another book to come back, and had promised myself a rest from writing. Of course, the moment you give yourself permission to do other things, you feel the urgent need to write. In this case, I just thought I’d play with Bea and see what it was like to write about her.
The first chapter came tumbling out and then the next and the next. You get the picture. It didn’t feel like work. It was fun, and I completely fell for Ant and Bea and their friends and families. I also got hooked on crime. This wasn’t so surprising, since for the last thirty years or so I have enjoyed reading detective stories, and for the last couple of years that’s all I’ve been reading. Writing a crime story was fascinating, absorbing and hugely enjoyable. I hope that this enjoyment comes across to readers when they meet Ant and Bea in September. I’ve loved writing adult crime and hope that this is the start of a new chapter for me. Rachel Ward is the author of five YA thrillers, including Numbers which was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize. She lives in Bath, Somerset with her husband, daughter, dog and one remaining chicken. The Cost of Living is her first book for adults.
Thanks to Shaz's Book Blog for hosting this post.