Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Actual Murder

"Writing down lies" is what novelists are sometimes accused of doing. There's not much defence. "But we don't expect people to believe it's true" protested one of my crime writing colleagues, only to be told by another that that's exactly what she does want people to believe.
It's when the murderous imagination is confronted by reality that I have doubts about my  profession, and this week I have to confess that reading and writing fiction about untimely death has felt like a very improper occupation.
My husband's cousin, Perran Thomas,  serving  in Afghanistan, was one of three British soldiers who were  shot dead by an Afghan policeman. Suddenly those familiar scenes, the huge aeroplane, the flag draped coffin, the Last Post, ceased to be a familiar ritual on the six o'clock news, and became a personal human tragedy - the precise opposite of  Good Copy.