Writing biography is a big challenge. You must gather information like a journalist and solve mysteries like a detective before you can turn all the pieces of jigsaw into a narrative that flows and, hopefully, lives. Thousands of these pieces go into the life of Robert Louis Stevenson, and after 20 years I am still collecting them.
My book Mrs Jekyll & Cousin Hyde, revealing the long and troubled relationship between RLS and his cousin Katharine, deals with just one aspect of a highly complex, charismatic and contradictory character. To be a good biographer, you need to forget about ego and work invisibly behind the scenes to present the central character as directly as possible.
One of the most rewarding tasks I have undertaken was invisibly editing Lesley Lendrum's biography of her grandfather Neil Munro, helping her bring to life another much-loved Scottish author. Editing a biography can be almost as much fun as writing it. My new challenge after years immersed in the life of the celebrity RLS is to tell the story of a nobody, not a comic Mr Pooter but a down-and-out nonentity, a person nobody has heard of, and to make it a tale worth telling.