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Becoming a writer, the hard way

8 November 2015

‘I just thought: Wow, there is so much to learn here (a forensic laboratory). And I said: "I will do anything you will let me to be useful if you just let me hang around."

I didn't set out to work there for six years. I honestly was so dumb, I thought when I got there I would do this for a few months and then write this great novel. Well, I wrote one and nobody wanted it. I wrote a second and nobody wanted it. I wrote the third and nobody wanted it. And then I went back to the newspaper to see if I could get a job. I thought, you've really failed. Like usual. Loser, loser, loser.

Nobody was writing about that sort of stuff back then. I kept being told, nobody wants to read about laboratories or morgues. And a woman who does it? No thank you! Wow. Well, I guess that turned out not to be true.'

Patricia Cornwell, whose latest book is Depraved Heart, in the Observer magazine.