On Writing with Peter Robinson


Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson

What made you want to write when you were starting out?

First it was a simple desire to tell stories. I used to write my own versions of famous tales, such as William Tell or Robin Hood, and illustrate them myself, too. When I entered my teens, I got more into horror and science fiction and wrote a lot of short stories. A literary education complicated things and for many years I wrote nothing but poetry. Then I got back to story-telling.

What makes you want to write now?

I think that same story-telling impulse is at work, in addition to the love of creating pictures with words and getting inside a character’s mind

What preparation do you do before writing?

Not much really. Usually I can tell when an idea has reached critical mass in my mind and I’ll just explode if I don’t sit down and start writing it. It may be still very unfocused, though, and I may have only an idea for an opening scene. Then other scenes grow out that, and so on.

Do you have a daily routine when you are writing?

Well, I usually write from about 8.30am to late afternoon. The more days in a row, the better, but that gets more difficult these days. I never work in the evening, though I might jot down an idea or two for the next day, because if I don’t put something between me and the story – dinner, TV, a movie, a concert – I know I won’t be able to get to sleep.

How do you survive being alone in your work so much of the time?

I like it. I think writers have to be able to enjoy solitude rather than just endure it. I’ve always enjoyed being left alone with my imagination, ever since I was a kid.

What advice would you give to new writers?

Bum on chair, fingers on keyboard. And persist. I’ve seen far too many would-be writers come to grief through lack of application rather than lack of talent.

Is there a secret to writing?

If there is, I haven’t found it. Students always think there is, though.


From Wikipedia:

Dr. Peter Robinson (born March 17, 1950) is an English crime writer, based in Canada. He is best known for his crime novels set in Yorkshire featuring Inspector Alan Banks. He has also published a number of other novels and short stories as well as some poems and two articles on writing.


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