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I think I’m getting old.  

Apart from the usual indicators (grey hair, wrinkles, don’t start me on the menopause) I have noticed one other Big Difference in me recently. I no longer find murder and gore palatable.

The past few books I have read in my usual genre of choice have left me feeling more than a little nauseous and uncomfortable. They have been written well, the prose was tight and the pages were turning, but… I don’t  think I want to read this stuff anymore. What’s wrong with me? Am I growing up at last?

I don’t believe it has anything to do with maturity. Crime fiction is one of the country’s biggest sellers. In May The Bookseller reported that in a four-week period ending 14/05/2010, Stieg Larsson sold over 310,000 books, Lee Child over 13,000.  There is clearly a market for the genre that is bigger than just a few gore-obsessed oddballs reading under the blankets with a torch. So why have I changed?

There has been a lot going on in my personal life in the past few months (nothing involving knives, guns or dismemberment, I hasten to add) and I have been more than a little stressed but hardly enough, I would have thought, to bring about such an about face. Then look at the news.

On top of the many natural disasters the planet has suffered over the past six months there have been many, many incidences where man’s violence to each other has been reported: riots, the Cumbrian shootings, Afghanistan, even the ongoing arguments over what really happened to Dr. David Kelly. I have begun to feel that each news report is chipping away a little of what makes me a human being. I’ve stopped watching the news or looking at news websites (apart from the Daily Mail ‘cos we all know that stuff’s not news) and a good slasher movie just leaves me cold.

Working on my novel has been making me very uneasy too. It’s a crime fiction set in Glasgow and involves child abduction into a paedophile ring and revenge. I still believe in my characters and I actually like them, finding it harder and harder to put them into the peril necessary to move the plot forward. The opening few pages have been especially upsetting as the POV character is a young boy. I found myself pleading with him not to go with the man, yet I knew he must.

So, I have come to a decision. I can’t save the squaddies in Afghanistan, I can’t reanimate the thousands who have died in the floods in Pakistan but I can save Joey and stop him being taken by the bogeyman.

Trouble is, what do I do now?

I have spent months planning and researching, my shelves are crammed with books on various aspects of crime and murder and I am totally at a loss as to what I will write next. Romance leaves me cold, I think I lack the ‘science’ bit for science fiction and I can’t stand cowboys. I did do some research and planning for a couple of children’s books that I still think could work and there are some incidents from my childhood that are odd enough to be written up… But really, I am stumped.

All suggestion gratefully received.

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