George’s creative process owes much to her discovery of John Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel, which he kept while writing East of Eden. “I really liked the idea of creating a journal myself,” she says.
“It’s like the way I clear my throat. I write a page every day, maybe 500 words. It could be about something I’m specifically worried about in the new novel; it could be a question I want answered; it could be something that’s going on in my personal life. I just use it as an exercise.”
But before both of these exercises, there’s a page or two to be read from either a classic (she recently finished Pride and Prejudice, which, she says, has ideally short chapters) or a book by a literary figure about the art of writing. It was the Steinbeck, of course, which set her on this track.
These three elements in her routine take only 30 minutes. Then she’s ready to continue with the book in hand: weaving a tapestry that, some critics say, contains writing that’s almost too good for a detective novel.
As Inspector Thomas Lynley investigates the London angle of an ever more darkly disturbing case, his partner, Barbara Havers, is looking behind the peaceful façade of country life to discover a twisted world of desire and deceit. The suicide of William Goldacre is devastating to those left behind who will have to deal with its unintended consequences. Could there be a link between the young man’s leap from a Dorset cliff and a horrific poisoning in Cambridge?