My Writing Process – A J McCreanor

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Completing the first draft of my debut novel Riven was exhilarating – from imagining the characters to constructing the plot and creating the locations. I wrote the first draft quickly, then the hard work really began. I am in awe of writers who say that they never redraft, that whatever is the first draft becomes the book. For me the first draft was a way to unscramble the thoughts and images that had lived for months in my imagination. It was a way of creating order and developing the snatches of conversation I heard my characters say, a way of constructing solid characters from glimpsed faces and blurred shapes. I worked on the locations, some imaginary and some, like the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, very real. I stitched the story together as one would a quilt, piece by piece, observing the pattern and overall design. And I listened for the internal rhythm.

‘Write about what you know/love’ is advice often offered to authors. I knew and loved Glasgow so I set Riven in the city. I was born and grew up in the east end, not far from the police station in Riven. Later, I taught English Literature in schools across the city until eventually retraining as a psychotherapist. I hope that I have captured some of the spirit of the city.

Creating the characters always excited me. I wanted there to be a depth to them, I wanted them to be neither entirely good nor wholly bad. When the reader gets to know DIs Wheeler and Ross, they see their flaws. With Andy Doyle I wanted to create a mostly flawed character, but not in merely a good v’s bad scenario. I wanted those opposites to coexist or at least juxtapose.

Occasionally I dreamt about my characters as I developed them. Sometimes they developed themselves. It was my original intention that Stella (Doyle’s girlfriend) was to have just a single line of dialogue but she fought and kicked her way into the book and stole a much larger part. So much for the writer being in charge. Stella again appears in the second book Silenced and I wonder if she’ll make it into the third.

I have often been asked about my writing routine and the truth is I write whenever and wherever I can, including my office, on buses, in cafes and occasionally in the local pub. Like most authors I carry a pen and a notebook and jot down ideas and scenes as they occur to me.

Riven is the first in the series featuring DIs Wheeler and Ross, the second Silenced is out on September 3rd and I am working hard on the third book.

Some of the feedback has been amazing and it’s always good to connect. If you would like to get in touch, I’m on Twitter @AJMcCreanor and email at It would be great to hear from you!





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