Each person I met whilst writing INJURED PARTIES knew a small part of the story and I was there to put clues together, a bit like doing a jigsaw. My partner invented a phrase for me: diligent sleuthing. It was a skill I never thought I had.
Armed only with a brief description of Dr Davidson’s murder in 1966 and newspaper clippings, I knew I needed to find characters from the 1960s before it was too late.
From the start, my loyal team of Amersham contacts bent over backwards to help find people from the 1960s; from suspects who’d been pulled in by the police for questioning and their family members who’ve waited 50 years to tell their story, to chance encounters with acquaintances of Dr Davidson, her patients and others closely involved in the investigation. It has been a seven year learning journey for me…a journey I would not have missed for the world.
How do you feel about public speaking? I joined Toastmasters International (TI) some years ago and still have a stack of the little feedback slips from fellow members about my presentations. Getting those slips was as good as being awarded a gold star at school for getting my spellings right. Wonderful for morale. Knowing that fellow members of the group were genuinely interested in what I had to say, even if it was a talk lasting two minutes, always gave me a good feeling. An excellent organisation in which I felt comfortable whilst learning how to stand up in front of an audience and not feel thoroughly sick and self-conscious.
Seeing this piece today about BBC’s Nick Robinson’s voice:
reminds me of my personal struggle. Having developed bell’s palsy in 1995 I’d been left with speech problems. For years I couldn’t say my Bs, Ss, Ts and other letters, properly. One side of my mouth wouldn’t move. So for me, public speaking, as well as the nerves kicking in, was peppered with the struggle to speak coherently. At TI meetings I learned to speak slowly and if necessary cut back the length of the talk to the bare minimum. I mention my illness to audiences sometimes. It often results in someone coming up to me afterwards saying how clearly I talk. That makes me feel very happy. I know what it was like for a long time.
I’m putting together a talk about INJURED PARTIES. It’s taken months of preparation. From thinking : Where will I start? bit by bit it began to take shape, creating a back story to the main story. I hope I can carry the audience with me, and my passion for solving the murder of Dr Helen Davidson in 1966. Maybe some will leave the venue with a copy of my book in their hands. That’ll be good. Diligent sleuthing will have paid off. Maybe others will tell me quietly that they like the way I speak. That’ll be good too.
For details of my talk in Amersham, Bucks on 12 July please click on this link: