A crime writer will host a creative writing workshop at Harpenden Books on Wednesday, May 31.

Decima Blake, author of Hingston’s Box, is 33 and grew up in Harpenden before moving to Welwyn Garden City. This novel is her first, however she is currently working on the next Hingston story.

I spoke to her to find out more about her writing and the event…

Tell me about the book

Hingston’s Box is in many ways typical of a Golden Age murder mystery with a touch of spookiness, whilst remaining true to present day policing.

The novel begins with Detective Sergeant Hingston giving a talk at his Metropolitan Police History Society evening. All appears well until he is found alone within the small museum at the police station, slumped by a cabinet, traumatised.

Hingston is next seen leaving his office having been signed off work. It transpires that he has been suffering from night terrors for almost a month, since 15-year-old twins, Daniel and Nathan Clarke, went missing. They remain unfound and there are no leads.

As Hingston hands his investigation file over to his Detective Inspector, he feels something hit his foot. He looks down and a small brass key has fallen out of the file. With no explanation for its appearance, he takes it with him. Escaping to Devon, Hingston finds an old wooden box in a bric-a-brac shop which the key fits. This leads him into another investigation involving a murder that took place in 1866 which he believes has bearing on the missing twins’ case.

Do you have a process you follow when writing?

After completing my research I write down a line or two for every chapter. By working to a structure I can track the plot and the sub plot. This outline helps me ensure the mystery is solved logically and that suspense is built.

How do you deal with writers block?

I read through my most recent chapters to get back into the storyline. The characters come back to life and this allows me to move the story on. I also review my chapter outlines to remind me where I am going next. If I decide I still need time to think, I go for a walk to relax.

Tell me about the event in Harpenden

I will be running a creative writing workshop at Harpenden Books, followed by a book signing. The hour long workshop is for young adults aged 14 years plus. I will be talking to the group about my experience of writing, including research, planning, plot development, redrafting to reach the final product, submissions to agents and publishers, publication and marketing. There will be two exercises - one based on characterisation and the other on scene setting.

Places are limited on Wednesday, May 31 and need to be booked via Harpenden Books, 48 High St, Harpenden AL5 2SX. Details: 01582 471375. Decima is running a similar workshop on Friday, June 2 at 2 pm at Waterstones in Welwyn Garden City.

A percentage of royalties from the sale of Hingston’s Box will be donated to the charity Embrace Child Victims of Crime.