The Crime Readers' Association

CRA logoWandering and Wondering – Alex Shaw

1st October 2014

Twenty seven years ago I saw Alan Bennett sitting on a wall in the Yorkshire village of Heckmondwikestaring at passers-by and taking notes. When my father and I, two southerners passed by he made notes. Years later I found myself doing the same thing but I was in Kyiv, Ukraine. I was sitting on the terrace of a café sipping chilled vodka and watching the ‘new Ukrainians’ strut by. Like Mr Bennett I discovered that I too prefer to ‘write on location’ and thus far I’ve been lucky enough to be able to do so for the majority of the time.


Most of my writing centres around Aidan Snow, an SIS (the official name for MI6) operative. Snow and I have a love for Kyiv and have both lived there. Whenever I can set at least part of my narrative in Ukraine I do so. The benefit of Kyiv as a setting is that few international authors have yet to write about Ukraine in great detail, as a location its surface has yet to be scratched.

My wife’s side of the family is Ukrainian hence we travel to Kyiv several times a year. This affords me the chance to wander and wonder. I’m not one for dragging a laptop around or tapping away in a coffee shop as I find this insular, I much prefer to keep my head up and like Alan Bennett ‘observe’.  If I’m not wandering or catching up with friends and family I’ll usually sit in the in-laws garden and write in longhand (which I’ll then incorporate into my writing on a laptop in the evening).

When writing in the UK I tend to make fewer notes and try to focus on polishing what I’ve written already and of course adding extra scenes that are set elsewhere.  As an author I am extremely lucky that there is no commute to my place of work, unless I want or more importantly can afford for there to be one!



Read more about Alex Shaw over on his CRA author’s profile

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