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Friday 11 February 2022

Take Every Opportunity by Peter Tickler

‘Take every opportunity that comes your way.’ That is the advice I always, at some point, hand out to my creative writing students. Because whether you are an established writer (whatever that means) or someone who is known by their friends to like writing, sooner or later an opportunity will come along. The conversation will go something like this (actually you, the writer, will be so stunned that it will be more of a monologue):

‘Hey, you’re into writing, aren’t you?’  Yikes, they think of me as a writer.

‘Fancy writing something for us?’  Me? Me! Course I fancy it, but I’m not going admit it. That’s a sign of desperation.

‘My friends and I want to make a short film.’  A film? Hell, I’ve never even thought about writing for the screen.

 ‘A horror film.’ Blimey. Well, I’ve watched all the Scream films.

‘We’re on a tight budget.’   So … they want me to do it for nothing?

‘Just a ten-minute film. Set in a high-rise apartment. And we need the script by the end of the month.’ Stunned silence. I have a thesis to finish/a garage to build/a baby that wakes me four times a night.

‘You won’t regret it.’  
How do you know?

‘So, are you in?’  

Finally, you reply, very nonchalantly:

 ‘Sure.’   I am trying to be cool. But inside I am wondering what the hell I am letting myself in for.

So, this a long-winded way of saying that at the beginning on December with the builders moving in to blitz the
kitchen, other workmen due to come and replace several windows the week before Christmas and a load of family due for several days over Christmas, I got that sort of call.

‘Would you like to write a chapter for a new book on Oxford Literary Walks? On P D James? Deadline 1 January, or sooner if you can manage it! And of course, remembering my own advice liberally doled out to my students (and despite not having a clue about P D James’s links with Oxford), I said: ‘Sure’.

So, I searched the internet, contacted my contacts, and before I knew it, I was  discovering all sorts of interesting links James had with Oxford, and had fun putting my piece on her together. One thing leads to another – as the saying goes – and I was then asked to do the same for my own fictional detective (D I Holden) based in Oxford, and so I did that too. So sometime in March the chances are the book will be out, and I will have two chapters in it. Detective Inspector Susan Holden and I will be rubbing shoulders with Morseland and Lyra’s Oxford and Iris Murdoch and even Laurence of Arabia. And that was all because I said ‘Sure.’ 

So, make sure you do that exactly when the opportunity comes knocking on your door.  ‘You won’t regret it.’ 


Blood in Oxford Series
Blood on the Cowley Road
Blood in Grandpont (2010
Blood on the Marsh (2012)

Doug Mullen Series
Dead in the Water (2015)
White Lies, Deadly Lies. (2018)
Dead in Oxford (2021)

The Girl Who Stole the Apple (2016)

Twitter: @ptickler


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