How It All Began

When I originally embarked on Orchestrated Death, the first of the Bill Slider books, I was just doing it for fun, as a relaxation between other books. I had no thought then of having it published.

With no preconceived notions of how to write a detective novel, I started with a corpse; and, in order not to make it too easy, I made it a totally naked corpse in a completely empty flat – a clue-free zone! I didn’t have to invent a detective – Bill Slider walked into my head the first day, complete in every respect. Don’t ask me where he came from: he’s not like anyone I know, at least not consciously; but from the first moment I knew everything about him – how he looked, where he lived, where he’d been to school, what he liked and disliked.

So Bill and I started investigating our first case. I had no more idea than he did who the corpse was, let alone who had murdered her or why, so we had to work it out as we went along – not the recommended method for writing a mystery! After a few weeks I had to put it aside and get on with other work; but I kept coming back to it, and when at last it was finished I decided to show it to my publishers. They liked it so much they took it, but with the proviso that if it was a success I would write a series.

The rest, as they say, is history. Bill has flourished, winning friends all over the world. But this story of how I first came to write him will at least explain why ORCHESTRATED DEATH is a little different from the following books: it was written as a one-off. That enigmatic ending was never meant to be – er – de-enigmatised!