Whodunit? A guide to crime, suspense & spy fiction - 1982
This book is a celebration of the genre and an accessible reference volume for the reader, written by a former chairman of the Detection Club, H.R.F. Keating, who was also a friend of Len Deighton's.
The chapter contributed by Deighton is entitled 'Even on Christmas Day,' in which he explores the intense process which goes into writing one of his books. He writes of endless reappaisals of each chapter he develops and the detailed research which goes into each book. For Bomber, he tells how it took three trips to Germany and numerous maps, charts, movies and interviews to ensure he got the accuracy of the bombing raids and their results absolutely correct.
The chapter is illustrated with one of Deighton's own hand-drawn research drawings, showing the details of the air base from which the bombers depart, and he has even done drawings of the goggles worn by the pilot, evidence of his unstinting focus on accuracy.
Why it's interesting
Fascinating opportunity to explore the process of how Deighton writes, and evidence of his commitment to his craft. He takes the reader chronologically through his books, detailing how he grew as a writer and developed new research and writing techniques which contributed to improving him as a writer. There is a fascinating picture showing his notes about the technical details about flying goggles, one small detail in a much bigger story, but one he wanted to get right.
'My own writing is characterised by an agonising reappraisal of everything I write so that I have to work seven days a week and usually do an hour or so even on Christmas Day, simply to keep all the problems fresh in my mind. The most difficult lesson to learn is that thousands and thousands of words must go into the waste paper basket. To soften the blow, I place scrapped chapters on a high shelf for a month before tossing them away.'
Also contributing to this volume are spy novelist and friend of Deighton Eric Ambler, Patricia Highsmith and Reginald Hill.
Whodunit?, UK first edition, 1982