The crime writer on bingeing on West Wing, taking time out on computer games and the joys of first-class train travel
Illustration by Alan Vest
When I first became a full-time writer, I mostly had writing days. People seldom wanted to listen to me read, consult my opinion or watch me perform. But the combination of success and the proliferation of literary festivals and media platforms has profoundly altered the even tenor of my mostly isolated days.
That’s probably a benefit; the observation and the company of others is, after all, what provides a writer with raw material. Left to our own devices, we’ve got a tendency to adopt the habits of a hermit crab.
I tend to write in 20‑minute bursts. That seems to be the length of my concentration span
Now I try to carve out a chunk of the year when the other calls on my time are kept to a minimum. Three or four months when I can more or less stay at home and write. January, February, March and, when I can get away with it, into April. When the weather is at its most miserable and I mind being indoors least. But my life is complicated, so even then I spend the equivalent of one of most people’s working days on trains each week.
Former policewoman Clare Mackintosh has beaten JK Rowling to the Theakstons Old Peculier crime novel of the year award.
Harry Potter author Rowling was shortlisted for Career Of Evil, written under her pen name Robert Galbraith, but lost out to Mackintosh with her debut thriller, I Let You Go.
Mackintosh spent 12 years in the police force but left in 2011 and became a full-time writer.
The crime-writing prize is now in its twelfth year, with previous winners including Val McDermid, Lee Child, Mark Billingham, Sarah Hilary and Denise Mina.
Mackintosh, who will receive £3,000, beat off competition from a shortlist of six British and Irish authors whose novels were published in paperback between May 1 2015 and April 30 2016.