Linwood Barclay: Hook them first, then reel them in
For this newspaper columnist turned mystery writer, it all starts with the hook.
Some authors, when starting a novel, imagine a place first. Others, a character starts taking shape in their head. I start with a hook, a situation, a 'what if.' What if a girl woke up one morning and her entire family was missing? What if everyone next door was murdered, and then you learned the killers went to the wrong house? Once I have a hook I think has potential—enough to spin out more than a hundred thousand words, then I start turning my attention to characters. Who are these people? Why did this thing happen to them? But the hook always come first."
Linwood Barclay, a former Toronto Star columnist, is the internationally bestselling author of seven critically acclaimed novels, including Fear the Worst, Too Close to Home, and No Time for Goodbye, which has been optioned for film. He lives near Toronto with his wife and has two grown children.