Crime author Harry Dunn tells us why he finds Lanzarote such an inspiring location for the writing, and shares a few tips.
Writing is a solitary occupation at the best of times and it would be understandable if the current pandemic was seen as a novelist’s best friend. Well, that could be true for many but enforced isolation is not for me. A long, cold winter hasn’t helped the mood and my thoughts often stray to my many writing weeks over the years in Lanzarote. A writer’s paradise!
My wife and I first travelled to the island in the 70s and it immediately captured our hearts. As a Scotsman, flying for four hours from a freezing UK in January to blue skies and 23c seemed nothing short of a miracle. It still does!
On Lanzarote I set aside a couple of hours each day to write. I sit down at the table on the balcony, often with a glass of Rioja, and listen to the ocean below. I take great pleasure in writing longhand in an A4 jotter as it avoids squinting into a laptop screen in the sunlight. This also allows me to edit and improve when I transfer my writing to my computer.
One afternoon in Playa Blanca I got carried away and wrote ten thousand words of my first ever published thriller. That’s around thirty pages in a paperback. It was a beautifully hot day in March with a slight breeze and as the characters led me through the story, the plot simply unfolded. I even forgot to re-fill my wine glass!
At least one quarter of each of my novels has been written in Lanzarote. Is it the warmth? Is it the wine? Is it the rhythmic sounds of the ocean hitting the shore? It’s probably a combination of all those things plus the relaxed ambience of the island. Each time we visit a market, wait for a shoreline fisherman to catch the big one or simply watch the world go by from a promenade bar, ideas are picked up and stored away. It’s how many writers craft their novels. Who knows, you may have helped me without ever knowing it.
We have so missed our winter visit this year and although my writing habit is intact, I can’t wait to return and wallow in the luxury that is Lanzarote. My fourth Jack Barclay thriller is a work in progress but a visit to the Island soon would definitely speed up the moment when I type, ‘The End.
• If you set aside 10 or 20 minutes each day, you would have written around 250 words. In a year that would amount to 90,000 words and that’s a good-sized book.
• Try writing a short story first. Make it about something you know. We all have unique life experiences locked away so draw on them and give your readers any drama involved in the story.
• Read a lot! You will see how successful authors keep the reader engaged and needing to turn the page.
• Join a writing group. Being with like-minded people is very helpful and will build confidence.
• Perhaps the most important thing to do is START! Don’t worry about making errors along the way. These can be sorted out later.
Good luck and Happy Writing
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