Empty Nests

Empty nest syndrome is when your children grow up and leave home, leaving their parents alone in the family nest. I believe writers have the same emotions when they come to the end of a character. At the moment, the last in the Strange Sagas of Sabrina Summers is at the editor. I feel as though she has gone away to university and will return to make a few appearances with her bags of dirty laundry in the holidays before that’s it forever. She’ll be back in the new year for me to finish off the formatting and implement any changes the editor suggests, then she’ll be published.

So, how can I deal with my “empty nest”? Well, Autumn Pugh is already being developed but I still can’t let go of Sabrina and her friends. And so, welcome Sabrina’s little sister! When I spoke to a group of Gifted & Talented students in Lincoln, NZ a few weeks ago, one child asked for stories for younger readers. I took her request seriously, and Sally Summers is on her way!

She’ll be starring in her own short story soon, but who knows – she might have her own books too.

Oh yes, one more thing – Merry Christmas!

Location, Location, Location

Lochmara Lodge

I’ve just been lucky enough to spend a week in the northern part of New Zealand’s beautiful South Island with my husband. We spent a night at Lochmara Lodge in Queen Charlotte Sound, which is stunningly beautiful, quirky and fascinating. You can only arrive by boat or by walking for some hours along the Queen Charlotte Track. They have a terrific eco presence, and have a couple of llamas, pigs, free range chickens, and breed endangered birds. I was thrilled to see glow worms for the first time in my life, and sea phosphorescence which looked like sparklers under the sea. I came away thinking “Wow, it would be a fantastic setting for an old fashioned murder mystery” but I’m sure their other guests were less gruesome than me.


Do you know the difference between finger prints, finger marks, latent and visible prints or what friction ridges are? I have just completed the module on fingerprints as part of the Introduction to Forensic Science MOOC which I am studying through FutureLearn. It’s so important to get these details correct when writing a crime novel. Unless you have a novel set more than 100 years ago, it’s probable that the police investigation of your crime will involve forensics, and one of the most established worldwide is the taking and comparison of fingerprints. So some definitions: fingerprints are from known sources eg when you have your prints taken either as a suspect or to eliminate you from an enquiry; however fingermarks are from an unknown source eg they are found at a crime scene. In some countries, these are called latent prints so do check the local terminology.  And the difference between latent and visible prints is in the name. Enhancement techniques such as powders are needed to make latent prints become visible. Both are photographed (or transferred to tape) and added to a national database of prints, and a computerised system used to compare prints. If you want your detective protagonist to take prints, it’s easy. Use a pencil to cover a patch of white paper and roll your fingertip across it. Then place this on the sticky side of clear sellotape and stick that onto white paper. The result is remarkably clear. Happy writing 🙂

Introduction to Forensic Science

Any crime writer worth her or his salt does needs to be accurate when it comes to forensics. The amazing team at FutureLearn offer heaps of free online courses, wherever you are in the world. I hadn’t heard of MOOCs before (Massive Online Open Courses), but now see that some very prestigious universities offer them. I have enrolled in their Introduction to Forensic Science six-week programme, taught by staff at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. It’s perfect for me, and there are other crime writers enrolled too, I see. I have now completed the first module, which is the Principles and practise of crime scene investigation. Wow, really interesting, learning heaps already. When I write the Autumn Pugh and de Winters Women series, I want to make sure that I am accurate! Happy studying 🙂