Joyce started writing in her twenties at a time when her husband, John
was studying for a degree in physics. It seemed a good idea at the time
because, working with pen and ink, it didn't distract John by making a
noise, it didn't cost a lot of money for raw materials and there wasn't
a lot of clearing up to do afterwards.
She started by writing short stories for a women's magazine and, later
for the BBC, and then on the precept that this was the next step in the
learning ladder, she progressed to historical romances for Mills &
Boone. Her relationship with Mills & Boone, however was never a stable
one due to her congenital inability to be serious for more than a paragraph
at a time. Romance readers, it transpired, do not appreciate someone who
writes tongue-in-cheek and when her editor started complaining, 'this
is not a romance- it's a romp!' Joyce decided that a change of genre was
in the cards.
Contemporary romances, of which she wrote two for Robert Hale, were really not her scene so, in 1994 she finally decided to turn to a life of crime.
The first Fizz and Buchanan book - 'GIZMO' - was completed in May 1995.It had been a year in the writing but at the eleventh hour, when it was already spellchecked, printed out, and ready to do the rounds of publishers and agents, she suddenly realized that it wasn't good enough. The characters were fine, the writing was about as good as anything she could come up with, but the plot was undeniably too contrived. There was nothing to be done but to chuck it on the fire and start again. Of Gizmo, all that she salvaged was her pair of amateur sleuths, Fizz Fitzgerald and Tam Buchanan.
Fizz's character grew out of Joyce's exasperation with the goody-goody heroines so beloved of Mills & Boone and Robert Hale. This time she was determined to create a real heroine, one who had faults as well as virtues, one who spoke and thought the the way today's young women think and speak, and above all, one who could give voice to all the disreputable thoughts and opinions which Joyce - as a respectable Edinburgh citizen (a great cover when she worked as a detective in the agency of Allen &Stewart)- couldn't! The challenge lay in creating a persona that was, in many ways annoying: pushy, opinionated, manipulative, dishonest, etc., and yet to make the reader want to spend time with her again and again.
One narative thread that runs through the whole series concerns the experiences
that make a person what they are and it's not till book 2: FOREIGN BODY
that we begin to see where Fizz is coming from. Joyce is frugal with her
information, doling it out in small doses, book by book, but when the
story moves from Edinburgh to Am Bealach, the tiny hamlet where she was
brought up by her widowed grandfather, a picture begins to emerge. Gradually,
as the series develops, the full story of Fizz's past life will explain
why she is what she is and, at the same time, the understanding of Buchanan's
rigidly middle class background will give a deeper understanding of his
unfailingly moral stance.
Will the two ever become an item? And if they ever do, how long could