I sometimes worry that people may know too much about me. Judi Dench has said that actors should attempt to remain mysterious. Too much knowledge of the actor gets in the way of the characters they play. Perhaps that should apply to writers as well. I did an interview last week and was asked, 'What's your second favourite jam?' Hard to remain mysterious when your answer to that question is in the public domain.
My second-favourite jam is strawberry. My first-favourite jam is something I will keep to myself. Mysterious? Moi?
I like writing about places I know and enjoy. Sitting here in my study on a grey skied afternoon, I can easily see why I love writing about life lived under a Mediterranean sun. However, its climate was only one of many reasons I chose Gibraltar as the setting for my novels. The people of Gibraltar, its history and its unique geographical position were also considerable influences in the decision. It also has the second oldest police force in the world, based entirely on the British system. The Royal Gibraltar Police Force has a hugely varied and challenging job. It seemed the perfect place for my main protagonist, DS Tamara Sullivan, to begin her new and exciting life as a police detective.
I play the trumpet. Or at least I did for many years. This fact has nothing to do with my writing, except perhaps for my more long-winded passages.
I love roast dinners. And so does DCI Gus Broderick. Broderick's mother was from Gibraltar, but his father was born and bred in Scarborough and loved his beef and horseradish. A roast dinner is a big favourite in the Daws household, and much enjoyed on Sundays and great feast days throughout the year. Writers are much encouraged to write about what they know, and there's not much I don't know about this particular meal. As PG Wodehouse would have said – I love it 'from soup to nuts Nut roast a speciality.
My second-favourite roast dinner is chicken. My first-favourite roast dinner is something I will keep to myself. I am still pushing the 'man of mystery' bit but with diminishing returns.
I love literary festivals. Festivals of all kinds have taken off in the UK over recent years. Among the most popular are literary festivals, and I can understand why. Festivals offer so much to people interested in all genres of literature. They give authors a chance to meet their readers and meet and listen to other writers. Writing is a pretty solitary affair, so it's great to get out and meet others in the same profession. The cakes, wine and banter are also a jolly good incentive to go along.
My second favourite literary festival is … I don't have second-favourites here, only first-favourites. The fantastic Gibunco Gibraltar Literary Festival and the hugely exciting Theakstone's Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate are both splendid. They'd be my first-favourites, but then I mustn't forget the Oxford Literary Festival, The Blenheim Palace Lit Fest, Granite Noir, Capital Crime, The Ampthill Lit Fest, The Morecambe and Vice Lit Fest - great festivals all. Include all those, and I have eight first-favourites, and I'm only getting started.
My favourite spot in Gibraltar is Europa Point. One is spoilt for choice, due to the large number of extraordinary places to visit and admire on the Rock. Why Europa Point? It's the most southern tip of Europe. To the north lies Spain, and to the south, Africa. Oceans, seas and continents meet here, and the night sky offers a canopy full of real mystery. Beautiful.