8 Novels by Journalists

Peter Ranscombe examines novels written by fellow journalists

One of the most interesting aspects of becoming a writer of fiction has been speaking at literary festivals and book signings. Answering questions from readers and potential readers certainly keeps you on your toes!

One point that regularly comes up is how being a journalist helps one write fiction. Certainly a journalist’s research skills are a big advantage when it comes to sifting material for a novel, and the discipline of writing every day is also a bonus: as a reporter, you soon lose your fear of a blank page.

Unsurprisingly, many have swapped their reporter’s notepad for the author’s paperback and the skills gained in the newsroom have served them well. Reading Robert Harris’s novels and Helen Fielding’s pre-Bridget debut illustrates how research for non-fiction work can seep through into fiction. Others on the list prove how passion for a subject about which you write – such as Lucy Ribchester’s dance and circus, or Ian Rankin’s music – can also shine in fiction.

To learn more about how journalists tackle fiction, see Olga Wojtas's How I Write blog.

Fatherland by Robert Harris

1. Fatherland

Robert Harris
Defender of Rome cover

2. Defender of Rome

Douglas Jackson
The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home

3. The Sea Detective

Mark Douglas-Home
The Hourglass Factory cover

4. The Hourglass Factory

Lucy Ribchester

List created by

Peter Ranscombe by Alex Hewitt
Peter Ranscombe

While he was a journalist at The Scotsman newspaper, Peter Ranscombe delved into its archives to read reports about notorious murderers Burke and Hare as inspiration for his debut novel, an historical thriller called Hare , which was published in paperback in August 2015 by Knox Robinson Publishing. Besides writing fiction, Peter now works as a freelance journalist, which includes editing BQ Scotland and writing the wine column in Scottish Field. Follow him on Twitter @peterranscombe2 and find him at www.peter-ranscombe.com.   In the lead up to Book Week Scotland 2016, Peter will be growing a beard to raise money for Scottish Book Trust. Learn more and help support his efforts at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Peter-Ranscombe.