From hairdryers at dawn to radio 6 at dusk with the odd courtroom thrown in along the way, we give you a day in the life of Neil White.
Most days start with the noise of the hairdryer at around seven.
My wife gets up before I do, and so her hairdryer stirs me. I don’t spring into action exactly. I have to get the children packed off for school. We’ve got three noisy boys, thirteen year old and ten year old twins, and so I spend a blurry hour lost in a flurry of making breakfasts and putting together packed lunches and getting myself ready. Once they are all sent on their way, scrubbed and fed, I set off for my day job.
As well as being a writer, I’m a solicitor by profession, and work as a prosecutor in the north west of England. My days are a mix of courtrooms, office work and providing advice to the police. I enjoy the courtroom the most. I like the drama, the arguments, and it is what attracted me to being a criminal lawyer. If I’m in one of the remand courts, I spend the day working through a pile of files, trying to keep people in custody if they ought to stay there, and agreeing that they shouldn’t be in prison if that’s the right thing to do. As I drive into work, I never know what I will face. It could be something as mundane as shoplifters, or as dramatic as a murder. If I’m not in a remand court, I conduct trials, anything from assaults and thefts to routine road traffic cases.
I work with one of my oldest friends, someone I worked with when he was just a young trainee solicitor and I was newly qualified, and we have a lunchtime loop that we walk most days, where moaning about work cleanses the soul. The visit to the sandwich shop always ends up in a battle with my conscience: cake or no cake. I come away with cake every time, and never know if that’s a battle won or lost. I pander to my sweet tooth too often, and I convince myself too easily that flapjack is really just porridge, which is healthy, apparently.
The courtroom days can be long and tiring, but they are rarely dull. Passing the prison van on the way home and knowing that I have helped to fill it can be immensely satisfying.
I arrive home around six, and I have a wind down routine. I check my emails, answer those that need answering, and then browse the online newspapers for a while. At some point I’ll emerge for the evening meal. Whether my wife cooks, or I do it, depends on what preparation is required. If it involves handling raw meat, I get the job.
I get to my computer to write some time between eight and nine. My study is a converted cupboard under the stairs, where there is just enough room for a small desk and a chair, and I jump whenever the children thump their way upstairs. I’ve squeezed a DAB and internet radio in there, and Radio 6 keeps me company. It can be distracting though, the music is too good, and so I turn sometimes to a country and western station from Kansas City; the twangy guitars are interesting, but not enough to make me stop typing.
The first thing I do is edit what I did last the night before, and then I take a break. This coincides usually with the children going to bed, and so they reacquaint themselves with the funny man who lives under the stairs.
At around ten o’clock, I’ll start to write some new stuff, to take the plot forward. I aim at a thousand words. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes less. If it is going well, I’ll carry on until the early hours, always beyond midnight. If I am struggling, I’ll do what I can to progress the story and then break off to watch a film, just to unwind. Thrillers are a favourite, but during the week, duration is sometimes more important than content. I save the epics for the weekend.
There isn’t much empty time, because any spare moments are spent with the family, or reading, or watching one of the few television programmes I still get time to catch. I used to be a soap addict, but writing ended that. I’ll sometimes go for a run, just to shake off the cake, but it seems that the cake is winning the fight with every passing year.
The day ends between midnight and one, and my tiredness increases during the week, until a bottle of wine or two dissolve me into fatigue on Friday nights, when I fall asleep watching the films I had been waiting all week to watch.
I’m lucky in that I don’t really get too stressed about things. I enjoy my day job and I enjoy writing. Tiredness is my main enemy, but a night off gets me back on the right track, and then the week just begins all over again.
Neil White’s new novel, Cold Kill, already has an incredible 4 star rating on Amazon. Click on the pack shot to see these reviews and more information on his latest chiller.