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WI Meeting February 2023

As our speaker, the award-winning crime writer William Shaw stood up, we heard creaking coming from the back rooms. Was that the furtive movements of a homicidal maniac as they let themselves out of the fire escape leaving a corpse unsuccessfully squashed into the WI cupboard? Or was it just the central heating pipes gurgling? Not wishing in interrupt our speaker we kept our fears to ourselves as we listened to what he had to say about crime writing.

Crime writing today is about creating authenticity so that the author may plausibly kill as many people as possible. So how do they do it, bearing in mind that if Midsummer Murders was set in Fairwarp, half the population would now be dead, and while Anne Cleeves may be massacring people in Shetland, in reality the murder rate there is nil, and surely there is more than death in paradise? They ensure that every other fact is accurate. The world around the death is believable so it must mean the death is as well. If you write about birdwatching, or sheep, or policewomen driving cars in the 60s (they were not allowed to), you must get your facts right. If you talk about a Waitrose in Tunbridge Wells and there isn’t one, the reader will be far less likely to believe in your murder.

It is this authenticity that makes crime writings a window to the culture of a country. So, as William suggests, if you are going to a country and want to know more than just the travel guide is telling you, read a crime novel set in that country. With minds buzzing with ideas, we moved onto refreshments and business. Perhaps there are some budding crime writers amongst us who just need a nudge to put pen to paper – time will tell!

Oh, and did we have a homicidal maniac lurking in the shadows? Not this time – it must have been the central heating.

Caty xxx

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