OF SIN (Non-series)
Macmillan, London (1985) /Curley, Boston, Mass. (1987)
My second novel, published Macmillan,
London 1985/Curley, Boston, Mass. 1985. Hardback, large-print,
Audio Book (unabridged).
The man who had everything lies at the bottom of the
quarry, having received the wages of sin.
Above him a group of people gather in the gloom near
his abandoned Mercedes. They are all people whose lives
he has touched, but only one of them knows they are all
free from his blackmailing and bullying now.
Or are they? It seems that from
the grave Alan Blake’s
influence is real enough. Real enough to frighten Frankie,
who was never afraid of him in life – real enough
to set at each other’s throats people who love
each other. And it is skinny, red-headed fighting Frankie,
at odds with the world, who takes it all on her insubstantial
shoulders, determined that Alan will hurt no one else.
But the eighth deadly sin, that
of omission, is one shared by each of the people in
the little frightened
group at the edge of the pit…
Was it easier or more difficult to write once you had
More difficult. I wrote the first one with no thought
of other people reading it. When A Perfect Match was
published, it was reviewed widely and well, and suddenly
I felt I had a responsibility to live up to it with the
next one. Second novels are traditionally less successful,
and Record of Sin was no exception. But I blame the fact
that I wrote it during the only time I ever tried to
give up smoking!
What was wrong with it?
One or two things. My editor advised me against beginning
it with an overview of the village in which it was
set, and I should have heeded his words, but I didn’t.
I’d take his excellent advice and get straight
on with the story if I was writing it now. And it wasn’t
a classic whodunit – it was, in effect, a straight
novel in the form of a whodunit, and I think crime
fiction readers felt disappointed. Readers who like
it seem to love it, but they are in the minority. It
is still regularly borrowed from the library, however,
though the copies must be falling apart by now.
What was right with it?
I wanted to look at the seven deadly sins, and how people
don’t have to be obviously sinful to be guilty
of all or any of them, and I think that worked. I think
the characters worked – I can still see them
all, quite clearly, and remember them all, which is
by no means always the case with me. It had a good
title. It had a good jacket, unlike many of my novels.
What prompted you to write it?
Most of my novels begin with a character, in this case,
Frankie. I had a dream about her. I quite often use
dreams – I think it’s just my subconscious
working while I’m asleep. One reviewer (who is
a loyal and supportive fan of my work) said that she
was ‘intended to be more endearing than in fact
she is’, but he’s wrong about that, because
I have never set out to make any character endearing.
On one or two occasions I have written characters intended
to be anything but endearing, but even that is rare.
As far as I’m concerned, my characters are people – you
might like them or not, just as you would if you met
them. I think Frankie would get on my nerves if I knew
her, but the more I thought about her, the more I wanted
to write about her.
What kind of reviews did it get?
Not bad. One reviewer said the plot was good, but the
characterisation was samey. Another said that the plot
was OK, but the characterisation was good!