The English tradition offers the great tapestry novel, where you have the emotional aspect of a detective's personal life, the circumstances of the crime and, most important, the atmosphere of the English countryside that functions as another character.
I don't think anyone could write about another culture and get it 100 percent accurate.
Plotting is difficult for me, and always has been. I do that before I actually start writing, but I always do characters, and the arc of the story, first... You can't do anything without a story arc. Where is it going to begin, where will it end.
I wish that I had known back then that a mastery of process would lead to a product. Then I probably wouldn't have found it so frightening to write.
I have to know the killer, the victim and the motive when I begin. Then I start to create the characters and see how the novel takes shape based on what these people are like.
I really liked the idea of creating a journal myself. It's like the way I clear my throat. I write a page every day, maybe 500 words. It could be about something I'm specifically worried about in the new novel; it could be a question I want answered; it could be something that's going on in my personal life. I just use it as an exercise.
Creating the characters is the most creative part of the novel except for the language itself. There I am, sitting in front of my computer in right-brain mode, typing the things that come to mind - which become the seeds of plot. It's scary, though, because I always wonder: Is it going to be there this time?