An Interview with Simon Booker – author of Without Trace

Simon Booker’s debut crime fiction novel “Without Trace” was published by twenty7 book as an ebook on 28th January. Although this is Simon’s first novel he is is no stranger to crime fiction – having worked as a screenwriter for many years. So how different has the process of writing a novel been? Simon tells all!

Simon Booker Author Photo-2“After many years writing TV drama (Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Holby City, The Mrs Bradley Mysteries … etc) penning my first crime novel has been a very different experience. Not better, not worse – just different.

“Working in TV is ‘writing by committee’. The moment you start work on a script, you must necessarily take into consideration the views of a small army of people, including the script editor, producer, executive producer, commissioning editor, channel controller, director and, very often, the actors who will speak your dialogue and bring to life the characters you create.

“Writing a book is, of course, a much more solitary business. You need to be mindful of your editor’s views, and your agent’s, but that’s it. Ninety-nine percent of the time the process of just you and the world taking shape inside your head.

“In my psychological thriller, Without Trace, I introduce readers to my series character, Morgan Vine. She’s a single mother and investigative journalist who specialises in miscarriages of justice. Her childhood sweetheart, Danny Kilcannon, has been convicted of murdering his stepdaughter. Morgan believes him to be innocent and campaigns for his release. But when he’s freed on appeal – and her own daughter goes missing in mysterious circumstances – Morgan is forced to question everything she thinks she knows about her old flame. As the ‘shout line’, er, shouts, She fought to free him. Now is he free to kill?

“Morgan Vine lives in a converted railway carriage on the beach at Dungeness. As I write about her desperate hunt for her missing daughter, and her determination to discover the truth about Danny, I visualise every image in my mind’s eye, just as I would if I were creating scenes for a TV drama. The key difference is that I am free to feature as many diverse locations as I like, and as many characters.

“Writing for TV means producing scripts that can be brought to the small screen without breaking the budget, or driving the director and cast crazy
with unfeasible demands. There would be no point in letting my imagination run riot in a TV script and creating, say, a huge manhunt in which viewers need to see hundreds of volunteers (too expensive), or even a small-scale domestic scene where a cat is required to jump on Morgan’s lap on cue (animals are notoriously unpredictable).

“But the broadcast medium with the most freedom is radio drama, where everything happens in the mind’s eye of the listener and where, as the saying goes, ‘the pictures are better’.

“Without Trace is the first in a series of psychological thrillers. In each book, Morgan will tackle a fresh miscarriage of justice. Perhaps the series will find its way onto TV at some point soon. If so, I know just the writer to tackle the adaptation.”

If you would like to find out more about Simon and his writing he will be appearing at Deal Noir on 2 April.

Without Trace Blog Tour


  1. That would explain why there are not nearly enough cats jumping on laps in TV dramas – according to my own cat. Great explanation of the differences between writing a screenplay and a novel – looking forward to reading the book!

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