Susan Sage Interview: “My favorite genre is probably Magic Realism.”

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Poet and Author Susan Sage provides me with an overview of her work and how it’s been influenced by a diverse range of writers.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style.

My writing style has been greatly influenced by authors/poets I’ve enjoyed reading over many years. Due to my love of poetry, specifically contemporary, I’ve always enjoyed imagery – especially dreamlike imagery. My descriptions aren’t particularly lengthy, but they are often visual. Never was a big Hemingway fan, but I suppose I’ve been influenced by his writing style.

Authors like Zora Neale Hurston/Toni Morrison/William Faulkner are brilliant with voice, and have affected me most. I doubt whether you can see their influence in my writing, but I’m in awe of what incredible masters of the craft they all are. If you’re referring more to writing style in regards to genre, I don’t have a particular genre that I write in, though I especially enjoy character-driven writing, regardless of whether a novel’s a fantasy, mystery, or other. I’m currently working on a draft that I’m hoping is multi-genre. My favorite genre is probably Magic Realism.

What is your background in writing and how did you get in to writing professionally?

I have an undergraduate degree in English from Wayne State University in Detroit and have taken several graduate English classes from the University of Michigan-Flint. I took several creative writing classes when I was an undergraduate. Also, I’ve been an active member of a writing group for several years. I’ve taught creative writing to all ages of students and have been an editor of a student creative writing magazine. While I write fiction and some poetry, I’ve always worked, too. Since I don’t spend most of my day writing, I’m certainly not as professional as many.

Tell me about your books. What do you believe draws your readers to your work?

I’ve published two books. My first book, Insominy, is a contemporary fantasy. It was self-published back in 2010. I was clueless about how to promote it, and to be fair, there weren’t as many online opportunities. Local promotion drew readers interested in fantasy. A Mentor and Her Muse, published by a traditional publisher, Open Books, has definitely sold more copies than my first. It’s classified as both psychological and women’s fiction, so I guess readers, particularly women, who are interested in psychological fiction, are drawn to it. Two of the three main characters are writers, so it has a literary bent, as well, so female authors might be the ones most drawn to it.

When choosing books to read, what style of writing do you enjoy yourself? Are there any particular writers you admire?

Interesting question because I think it’s true that we do write what we tend to enjoy reading! I’d have to say, I most enjoy psychological fiction and also some fantasy and science fiction. I’m interested in writing and reading novels that make social statements, as seen in the work of Margaret Atwood or George Orwell. There are too many present day novelists to list, though my among my favorites from the 19th Century include Tolstoy, Proust, and Dickens. I’m a fan of Gabriel Garcia Marquez due to his use of Magic Realism. I keep meaning to re-read One Hundred Years of Solitude.

If you could collaborate with any person, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

It would have to be Margaret Atwood because of her superb imagination. Also, she seems like she’d be easy going and would have the right amount of humor to make a collaborative project possible.

Have you got any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

I’m currently working on a draft of a novel, which is proving to be an interesting challenge, not only because it’s multi genre, but also because it’s main character is a guy – an older guy. I’ve never written from a male perspective before except in a few short stories. It’s tentatively entitled The Ringo Tales and it’s basically about a near End Times community coming together in search of Ringo, a lost golden retriever.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to later in the year?

Just recently, I began enjoying books by several authors I’m acquainted with on Twitter. Ones I high recommend include: Kevin Ansbro, Susan Rooke, C.A. Asbrey, Milana Marsenich, Iris Yang, and Mark Ozeroff. There are many others whose works I’m curious about but haven’t yet read. This group includes Gemma Lawrence, Ellie Douglas, Karl Holton, Millie Thom, and M. Ainihi. There are many others, as well!

Anything you’d like to add?

Thanks SO much for giving me this opportunity! I’m looking forward to reading your blog.

Huge thanks to Susan for answering my questions, it’s been a pleasure.

 

 

 

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David Hewson Interview: “I wanted this to be a story driven by character, atmosphere and the extraordinary culture of Calabria”

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To celebrate the launch of Black Thorn Books, a new publishing imprint dedicated specifically to crime fiction, I interviewed one of their authors, David Hewson, whose book The Savage Shore, part of his Nic Costa series, is being published by Black Thorn. David talks me through his latest novel and how he came to create such an engaging series through his love of reading.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction?

To be honest I never set out to write crime fiction. I just wanted to write original, mainstream fiction that told big stories with bold narratives. It was only a few books in that I was told I was now a crime writer – not that I mind. And of course many books are now classified as crime which may not have been years ago. And maybe even plays too – is Macbeth a crime story? Possibly. Labels don’t really trouble me. It’s the story that counts.
What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally?

I left school at 17 to work as a reporter on a little (now vanished) local newspaper in Yorkshire. A few years later I’d graduated to The Times, then the Independent and Sunday Times. But I always wanted to write fiction so gradually I eased back on the journalism and started trying to write fiction. It took a while but in 1996 I came out with my first book, now republished as Death in Seville and after a while I was able to give up journalism altogether.

Please tell me about The Savage Shore. What do you think sets it apart from your other work?

The Savage Shore is the tenth instalment in a series of books based around a young detective, Nic Costa, who works in the historic centre of Rome. There hasn’t been a Costa book for nine years but readers have been nagging me for once constantly. So I decided to bring the old team back but this time in a new place and with a new challenge.

Usually they’re on home ground in Rome, and in charge of events. But here they’re in the foreign ground of Calabria in the south and having to pretend to be something they’re not. They’re trying to engineer the escape of a crime gang lord who wants to turn state witness. But no one knows who the man really is or how they can get him out safely. Nic has to pretend to join the gang to make contact with him, while the rest of the crew have to sit around on the coast struggling to make escape plans while staying undercover.

I wanted this to be a story driven by character, atmosphere and the extraordinary culture of Calabria. There are no car chases and very little in the way of violence. It’s about how difficult it is for people to pretend to be something they’re not – and the price that can make them pay.

Having written books set around the world, what is your favourite place to set a novel and why?

It’s always the one I’m working on at the moment. It has to be that way otherwise I’d get distracted. But somewhere I come back to time and time again, both for stories and for peace for editing, is Venice. It’s such a magical place and with every book I finish there with a read through and an edit in an apartment I rent. It’s almost a superstition by now.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

I’m not sure I’d call it anything as fancy as inspiration. A lot of writing isn’t about intellectual stimulation. It’s about practicality, craft, sweat, labour. The kind of things a painter thinks about when he or she sets out on a canvas. What kind of colours will I use? What brush? What sort of paint? What’s the perspective? The time of day?

When I set out to create a story I try to find a location, some characters and an inciting incident – in this case the gang lord who wants to defect. Then I place all these players on the board and see how they want to approach events. A writer should be in control only up to a certain point. You have to let your cast be true to themselves in order to find the solution.

Following on from that, what do you read yourself and how does this influence your work?

I try to read widely. I don’t think it’s healthy for a writer to read only in the field in which they work. In fact I think that’s unhealthy on occasion – you subconsciously pick up styles or ideas, and worse you miss out on a lot of good writing in other fields. So I read a lot of fiction – mainly but not only history. The past is such a good mirror of what’s happening today, to a startling degree at times. I’m a sucker for anything about ancient Rome and Greece and follow Mary Beard, Robert Harris and Tom Holland avidly. I also like obscure foreign works which take a bit of tracking down. Most recently a fascinating novel set in Ferrara just before World War Two, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

I’m not a natural collaborator, I must say, but I would love to have worked out how Robert Graves went about writing I, Claudius and how long it took him. There were so many sources for that book and they were all in Latin.

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

My next book with Black Thorn will be a real departure – the first novel set somewhere I’ve never been. I’m usually big on local research – I signed up for language school to write the Costa books and spent ages in Italy. But you can work straight out of your imagination too. So next year my you’ll meet Devil’s Fjord, a mystery set in the fictional wilds of the Faroe Islands about a couple who retire there thinking it’s paradise, only to discover they got things very wrong.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

No names or titles – as always with books I wait to be surprised.

Thanks to David for taking the time to answer my question. You can find out more about The Savage Shore and Black Thorn HERE.

 

 

Nicola Avery Interview: “I can’t tell you exactly where the ideas for my stories come from”

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As a follow-up to my review of her brilliant novel Within The Silence I interview Nicola Avery to learn more about her work and how she came to start writing it.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards thriller writing?

I think my writing style developed from a need to create a dialogue with my readers. I tend to write about what I know, think, believe, or have been told. I explore subjects that make me cry, make me angry, make me question, hoping that my voice is always honest and open. Some of my subject matter is brave or controversial and requires the reader to listen, watch and engage with an open mind, exploring their own emotions and views, allowing the plot and characters to develop. I don’t judge in my writing, I leave that to my readers.

Both my books are very different – Whispered Memories is a mixed genre, multi-dimensional love story where a tragedy in the past (the premise of a past existence) and present day collide, as repeating patterns threaten lives once again.

Within The Silence is also a mixed genre, but a darker thriller with a paranormal twist, a race against time to stop an atrocity, where a love so powerful crosses even the ‘ultimate boundary of death’ to keep a love one safe.

As a reader I have always been drawn to thrillers, not frightening horror type, but more psychological, dark, ‘bad people’ led thrillers. That’s possibly why both my books are littered with murders, intrigue, hidden agendas, sadness, brutality, and tragedy… but lifted with the truth that ‘love’ is the final answer.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally?

My father is a published author, my mother a ballet dancer so the artistic seam runs deep within my psyche. I travelled extensively, in and around Australia, returning back to the UK as a divorced single mother and carving a professional career in the corporate world of finance.

As soon as my daughter reached eighteen I began to follow my own interests, studying and qualifying as a professional hypnotherapist and past life/regression therapist in order to understand the impact that the past has on an individual in their lifetime. The subject matter on past existences was fascinating, the findings although chiefly unproven – persuasive. I needed to share, hence my first published book.

I write now about things that inspire me, move me or allow my mind to literally ‘free-fall’.   Whether these latest stories will go to print remains the question, but as long as there are readers that like my writing, I will find the time to create and put pen to paper.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

I can’t tell you exactly where the ideas for my stories come from. They are in my head and grow in the telling, becoming more layered, more intricate, and more involved as the stories develop. My editor has to cut chapters and pages from each finished manuscript with the cry of ‘too much!’ I’m also asked how do I know about some of the things I write about, especially the more ‘unusual’ or ‘unpleasant’. Research is essential, a vivid imagination and the courage to tackle something that might be seen as sensitive, unbelievable, unnatural, or unexplainable, hoping I will always convey the darker or difficult with compassion and sensitivity.

I treat ‘writers block’ like a virus. We will all get it one day – for me its natures way of saying enough – take a break – breath again…

I ‘word dump’ if I feel the guilt to write during these periods, work on an alternative project. I normally have two on the go so I can dip in to one on the back burner when I feel pressure from another. That way I always have an outline for the future, for another book (guilt is one of the writers curses, the need to write, whatever). Sometimes a break from your work is beneficial as it also allows you to take a step back. Also, ‘life’ does get in the way of writing and we should understand this. When this happens to me – I read – a lot. It’s my chance to go into another author’s world, soak up their wording, plot and characters, and enjoy their ‘place’, like a perfect holiday: it works for me.

Nicola avery books

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

Amelia Mary Earhart would be my first choice as a collaborator. I’d like to write her story, her life from her perspective. She was an American aviator pioneer and author, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Married, but with no children of her own, she disappeared in 1937 flying with her navigator Fred Noonan over the Pacific ocean en route to Howland Island from Lae, Papa New Guinea, in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

There is still a mystery as to what really happened to her, her navigator, the plane, where she landed or crashed, and how she met her fate. The mystery of her disappearance would be a fascinating detective story, but weave in her views and past battles as a woman in a man’s world, the choices she had to make, the risks she took, the fear she had to conquer, her experiences as a nurse’s aid during WW1 in a Canadian hospital, her experiences as an author, and her own personal lessons in life, her loves, her hates, then the project takes on real colour.

Spin that with fiction and conspiracy theories then the book takes on a different edge, a fiction book with several potential endings. Her capture by the Japanese for spying, the unknown bones found on an Island, the sunken plane, the mystery woman with a new life and new face, her murder, or the truth; what really happened to Amelia Earhart?

Sadly we may never uncover that, but if she allowed, I could add a twist to the book project and add in a paranormal element-perhaps she could then tell us!

What do you read yourself and how does this influence your writing?

I read as much as possible and can be wooed by a beautiful cover. I love thrillers, mysteries, crime, psychological thrillers and books that cross and mix genres. A ghostly twist to a love story is a bonus for me. As a result of my reading needs I’m writing the kind of books I want to read; mixed genres, murders, crimes, mysteries, thwarted love, reincarnates, ghosts, justifiable retributions, rather like a box of chocolates with no sweet index, where there’s something in it for everyone, and each bite is a surprise.

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

Yes, a children’s book – but with a difference – going back to the days of Hans Christian Andersen where story telling and children’s tales were filled with love, beauty and pain, where morals are taught and all actions good or bad had consequences. This is a challenge for me as I’m finding it very emotional to write and the intended age group keeps growing – to date it’s for children aged 9 to 90 years! Have quite a following and its not finished yet!

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

I read at least three book a month and have on occasions been surprisingly disappointed by a ‘well known’ author’s much publicised book, so now tend now to wait for the buzz to die down before purchasing and reading. I always finish a book whatever my opinion and never give a bad review, after all there is no ‘one size fits all’ in the world of books; readers views are varied and personal.

I do now have copies of Kate Mosse’s The Burning Chambers to read and Kate Atkinson’s Transcription..

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Yes – a huge thank you to Hannah for inviting me to take part in this interview and to all the other amazing book bloggers out there, that are throwing authors a ‘life raft’ in this bumpy sea of book publishing and supporting us as we paddle.

Thanks Nicola it’s been great to hear your thoughts!

 

 

Paula Williams Interview: “It was the proudest moment of my life when I was accepted as a full member of the Crime Writers’ Association!”

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Murder mystery writer Paula Williams shares some insights into her work and the influences behind it.

Tell me about the books you write. Why do you have such a passion for crime fiction in particular?

At the moment I’m writing a series of murder mysteries, set in a small Somerset village called Much Winchmoor. The village is fictional but bears an uncanny resemblance to the one I live in, although as far as I know, there are no murderers among my friends and neighbours.

I do, indeed, have a passion for crime fiction. It’s my favourite genre and they do say you should write the kind of story you like to read, don’t they? I don’t like too much graphic violence and am not comfortable being inside a serial killer’s head. So my books are in the ‘cosy’ category, although that makes them sound a bit pink and fluffy which they are not.

My heroine, Kat, is young and sassy. She’s one of the ‘boomerang’ generation, forced by financial problems to return to the village in which she grew up – and feeling as out of place there as ‘a canary at a cat show’ (her words, not mine!). She would leave tomorrow but for two things. Firstly, she can’t afford it. Secondly, her on/off romance with her childhood friend, Will, a farmer whose family have been in Much Winchmoor since the days when Judge Jeffreys scoured the West Country looking for rebels to hang, draw and quarter after the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685. Will is as much a part of Much Winchmoor as the village duck pond and this is part of Kat’s dilemma. Should she give up on her dream of a proper career in the media… or give up on the man who, she sometimes thinks, is the love of her life? My Much Winchmoor series can be summed up as murder mysteries, sparkling with humour and sprinkled with romance.

What was the first crime fiction novel you read and how did it draw you into seeking out more books of this genre?

My mother introduced me to Agatha Christie when I was about 12 and I have loved her books ever since. I then went on to discover Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers and all the writers of that golden age of crime fiction. I’ve been reading and enjoying a wide variety of crime fiction ever since.

It was the proudest moment of my life when I was accepted as a full member of the Crime Writers’ Association! Imagine me, in the same company as the likes of Ian Rankin, Peter James et al! I still have to pinch myself – although I remind myself that while they are top of the Premiership, I am probably lurking around the bottom of Third Division South.

Please tell me about your background. How did you get into writing and publishing your work?

I have always written but I began selling my work about 12 years ago when I started writing short stories for women’s magazines. I really enjoyed writing the ‘twist in the tail’ stories, where the writer deliberately misleads the reader and they sold so well that I realised that the same misdirection technique could be used to write crime stories. So I started writing longer stories and serials and soon found I enjoyed writing crime fiction as much as I enjoyed reading it. During that time I sold over 400 stories and serials in the UK and overseas.

But the world of women’s magazines has changed hugely in the last decade. When I started writing for them, there were 14 different magazines in the UK that published fiction. Now, it’s a mere handful, and so I started thinking about branching out into full-length novels. I’d already sold several ‘pocket’ novels, which are now in Large Print so it was just a small step from that to writing a full-length novel.

After a bit of Internet research I found my present publisher, Crooked Cat Books, who were accepting unsolicited submissions at the time. They published the first in the Much Winchmoor Series, Murder Served Cold in October 2018 and the second, Rough and Deadly, is coming out in April 2019. I am currently writing the third, with the provisional title of Burying Bad News. And have plans for more.

I also write a column in the UK magazine Writers’ Forum. Called Ideas Store, it focuses on where writers get their ideas. I have been writing this column for over eleven years now and still enjoy asking the question that every writer is said to dread.   ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ So far, no one has refused to answer it.

Are there any particular mediums or narrative troupes you like to use in your writing and why?

The Much Winchmoor series are written in the first person. This does not make it easy as it means that every scene I write has to be from Kat’s viewpoint, which can be a bit restricting. But when I started writing Murder Served Cold, I just couldn’t ‘get’ the tone of it to start with. It just didn’t feel right. So I switched from third person to first and as soon as I did, Kat began talking to me (and at me) and hasn’t stopped since.

She has such a strong voice and her snippy comments are so much an integral part of her personality that I’m afraid I’m stuck with it. Although I do have a few scenes from the murderer’s viewpoint sometimes – and yes, I know I said I didn’t enjoy being in a murderer’s head but they are very brief scenes! And they really help to ratchet up the tension.

Setting also plays a huge part in my Much Winchmoor stories. Kat is living in this pretty, chocolate box village that has more holiday homes than affordable housing. It looks, and sounds, lovely but the reality of living in a small rural community is far from idyllic, particularly for young people.

What books/ authors do you enjoy reading and how does this influence your writing?

Where do I start? I have always read very widely and one of the things I’ve enjoyed since becoming a Crooked Cat author is reading books by my fellow ‘Cats’.   I am now a huge fan of Alice Castle, Joan Livingston, Val Penny, Catherine Fearns to name just a few.

I also enjoy Michael Wood’s Matilda Darke series, Angela Marsons’ Kim Stone series (although I have to skip through some of the scary bits!) and anything written by Ann Cleeves. Then there’s Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway and Damien Boyd’s Nick Dixon series which are all set in my lovely corner of Somerset.

I also love MC Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series and was very flattered when one lovely Amazon reviewer said that Agatha Raisin fans would enjoy my books. I really, really hope she’s right. I’m not sure if these authors influence my writing. Except to make me want to work hard at my craft so that one day I might become as good as they are.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

Goodness, this is a tricky one! I would learn such a lot from Agatha Christie about plotting but I think I’d be so overwhelmed by her that I’m afraid wouldn’t contribute much to the process.

Then I thought about my twelve year old granddaughter who has the most fantastic imagination. The story lines she comes up with are way better than any of mine. She is also a very accomplished (and dedicated) ice skater and is up several mornings a week to be on the ice before 6am! I would love to use her knowledge to set a story in the incredibly competitive world of figure skating. Maybe I will one day – if she doesn’t beat me to it first.

Have you got any exciting new plans or projects coming up that you’d like to share with me?

At the moment I am working on the third book in my Much Winchmoor series. Looking ahead a bit further, I would love to write a new series set in West Dorset. I grew up on the Dorset/Somerset border and West Bay was just a cycle ride away (I was a lot fitter in those days ) while, for many years, my dad had a boat which he kept at Lyme Regis – one of my favourite places in the world.

We came within a whisker of selling our present home and moving to West Dorset a few years ago but had to give up on that particular dream. Writing a book (or, better still, a series of books) based in the area would be the next best thing to actually living there.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

I wait eagerly for each new Elly Griffiths and Angela Marsons. They both have really strong yet vulnerable women at the heart of their stories and I love seeing how they develop as the series progress. I would love to think that one day someone would be saying the same about my Kat. Who knows?

Do you have anything to add?

Just a very big thank you for such an interesting set of questions. I have really enjoyed working my way through them. I blog about my writing (and, sometimes, my beautiful rescue dog, a handsome Dalmatian called Duke) and often feature other authors at paulawilliamswriter.wordpress.com

My Facebook author page is https://www.facebook.com/paula.williams.author. Twitter. @paulawilliams44. Website. paulawilliamswriter.co.uk

Murder Served Cold is available to buy at mybook.to/murderservedcold. Rough and Deadly will be available to pre-order shortly and will be published on April 30th.

Thanks ever so much Paula for taking the time to answer my questions, it’s been a real pleasure.

Patricia Earnest Suter Interview: “True events are almost always my inspiration”

patricia suter

This week Patricia Earnest Suter, non-fiction writer and author of the fiction Dash One: Dark talks me through her work and how she came to start writing about an array of topics.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style.

My writing style is adaptable and casual. I have written primarily nonfiction, so far. In it, I exhaustively research the subject while taking care to not insert myself. An author’s beliefs or modern sensitivities should not influence historical narrative.

Currently, however, I am working on a science fiction tale. In both, I write casually as opposed to scholarly and prefer a friendly tone. The fictional work, Dash One: Dark has a little quirkiness too. Fiction allows the author to insert a little of themselves.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally?

I graduated from the University of New Mexico with a BA (psychology/sociology) but my husband and I transferred to Europe before I developed any career footing. After my oldest was born, my mom and I spoke about the lack of interest kids had in genealogy and history.

Together we created Kids and Kin, a book designed with activities to get children involved in researching their family history. That was in the 1990s.

Later, Mom and Dad followed the grandchildren to Delaware, where we lived. I joined Earnest Archives and Library. We were approached and asked to write The Hanging of Susanna Cox: Pennsylvania’s Most Notorious Infanticide and the Legend That’s Kept It Alive.

As I researched Cox, I found records of Anton Probst’s horrific murders of the Dearing family in Philadelphia. I could not interest anyone in the story and dropped it and continued on to write about Pennsylvania German, Peter Montelius.

The Dearing’s story kept digging at me and I decided to finish it and self-publish. By then, my original idea changed. It was no longer a tale of murder but became a comparison of monsters. The Face of a Monster; America’s Frankenstein was born. After FOAM’s release, I began working on Dash One: Dark. Now, I have too many ideas and too many other stories to quit.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

True events are almost always my inspiration. Even in Dash One: Dark, the science fiction aspect is based on real events. People never cease to amaze.

I am incredibly lucky, in that I have never suffered writer’s block. A difficult section might prove problematic but if I take a break and sleep on it, a solution will come to me (usually in the middle of the night).

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

I would love to say Mary Shelley. Was I correct about my few suppositions in FOAM? But I have long been fascinated with Ambrose Bierce. He had the acerbic tongue but was made of many layers. It would be fascinating to watch as they were revealed.

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

You are going to regret having asked that question. Yes!!! Mom was well known in the field of Pennsylvania German fraktur (illuminated manuscripts). She wanted to finish her flagship book, Papers for Birth Dayes 3rd edition before she died. It wasn’t meant to be, so dad and I are finishing for her. Hopefully, we will have it completed by the end of 2018.

Nearly complete is Patent no. 1054 (working title only). It is a true story about the William Stoy family. They experienced changes met by the colonists and Americans. They faced the soul-searching experienced by people in an emerging country. The Stoy family challenged issues such as religion, women’s roles, immigration, and education. Meanwhile, Stoy held the “cure” for the bite of the mad dog. Even George Washington sent a servant to Stoy for aid. After William’s death, his wife Maria Stoy continued the family business in spite of challenges to the cure. Theirs was an incredible journey.

Dash One: Dark is now with several beta readers. Their responses have been terrific. I will fix any incongruities and soon begin looking for an agent. Dash One has huge potential as it provides a new look at a familiar concept. Its premise could continue for years without becoming boring and it will easily lend to a visual medium such as television or movie.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

I have to be honest, a friend dragged me kicking and screaming to Twitter. I had been unable to figure it out but she got me to a point that I was able to navigate. Somewhat. I still do not know what I am doing half of the time.

As luck would have it, I stumbled into a writing group. Some use traditional publishers and others are independently published but I am having a fantastic time talking with them and then reading their work. It is like having additional insight from authors that have not been possible in the past.

Like, a professor asks, “What did Mary Shelley mean by this?” Anyone can take an educated guess, but no one knows the reality. In this case, talking with authors allows true engagement and introduces an entirely new reading experience. I have bunches of new works from new authors, and old favorites, that excite me.

Thanks for taking the time! You can find out more about Patricia HERE.

 

James Hayman Interview: “Writing was the one thing that came naturally to me”

james hayman

James Hayman, former advert writer turned bestselling author talks me through his books and how he draws on his previous role when writing them.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction and thriller writing?

Before starting to write fiction I spent over thirty years writing advertising copy, mostly for television, for one of the world’s largest ad agencies. Writing TV advertising trains one to write fiction in a couple of ways. First, you have to write tightly. You can’t waste a word. After all, you can’t cram more than 120 words into a 60 second TV commercial but very often those words have to tell a complete story.

I’ve brought that discipline into my fiction. I try very hard never to use any words that don’t move the story ahead. Writing advertising is also a wonderful training ground for writing dialogue. Anyone who’s read any of my McCabe/Savage thrillers know that they I use a lot of dialogue to tell the tale. Finally, writing for television trains you to think cinematically. Capturing a scene as a camera would allows readers to actually “see” in their minds the scenes I am describing.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally?

Writing was the one thing that came naturally to me back when I was in school. After leaving university I looked for some job, any job that would pay me a living wage to do what I do best. As I said before, that turned out to be advertising. However, the whole time I worked in the ad business I had an itch to write fiction. After 30 years I finally got a chance to scratch that itch. My first thriller The Cutting quickly attracted one of New York’s top literary agents and she quickly sold it to one of the major publishing houses. The Cutting subsequently became a bestseller both in the US and the UK as well as several other countries. It is currently being translated by an Israeli publishing house into Hebrew.

Now, nine years after The Cutting there are six books in the McCabe/Savage series.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

All six of my McCabe/Savage thrillers weave topics of social importance seamlessly into the story. For example, in my latest, A Fatal Obsession, I introduce readers to a villain who kidnaps a young actress who he brings to a remote house. Same old, same old? Not exactly. Turns out the so-called villain suffered multiple concussions as a teenager at the hands of an abusive father and his criminal actions are the result of an advanced case of CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. As you probably know CTE is a disease that afflicts the brains of many men ranging from professional football players who have suffered multiple concussions to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan whose brains were damaged by proximity to explosions. When the disease is not driving his actions, the villain turns out to be a loving and caring young man. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Kind of but not quite.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

There’s no way I could ever collaborate successfully with any other writer no matter how talented. My books grow organically out of my brain and out of my unique relationship with my characters. It’s no exaggeration to say Michael McCabe and Maggie Savage are the closest friends I have and I’m happy I get to spend a lot of time with them. I suppose in one sense you could say McCabe and Maggie are my best collaborators.

What do you like reading yourself and how does this influence your work?

I have pretty broad tastes in reading. Naturally I read a lot of both thrillers and what they call literary fiction. Among the Brits I particularly like are Kate Atkinson and Ian McEwen. I also read a fair amount of non-fiction. Most recently a fascinating biography of war correspondent Marie Colvin who worked for the Sunday Times in London. The title is In Extremis for those who’d like to dip into it.

What’s next for your writing? Are there any new releases or projects your doing in the future that you are particularly excited about?

I’m currently working on my first stand alone novel which is about a woman who is convinced her husband is planning to kill her. When that’s finished I may come back to McCabe and Savage. Or maybe I won’t

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

I’m currently reading a John Grisham book called The Reckoning. After that I’m not sure.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Just to say thank you for liking my work enough to want to interview me.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, it’s been a pleasure.

 

 

Carol Wyer Interview: “My first novels were comedies encouraging people to enjoy life to the maximum”

carol wyer - fence

Another awesome interview for you as I speak to Carol Wyer about her dark comedy and crime fiction novels.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction?

I started my writing career back in my thirties when I penned a series of educational books for children that taught French through cute, funny stories. They were highly illustrated and had titles such as Noir and Blanc -Two Naughty Cats. The books ended up being used in schools and were a stepping-stone to what happened later, when I decided I wanted to write for the adult market.

My first novels were comedies encouraging people to enjoy life to the maximum and laughing at the ageing process. My humorous non-fiction book, Grumpy Old Menopause was a chart-topping success and I found myself on radio shows in the UK and USA and New Zealand, writing articles for national magazines and on BBC Breakfast sitting on the red sofa discussing my writing with Susanna Reid and Bill Turnbull. The book went on to win The Peoples’ Book Prize Award. I was finally making a name for myself.

In 2016, Bookouture (part of the Hachette group) took on my madcap comedy called Life Swap and I was signed to write further comedies. It was about that time, I realised each book was becoming darker and the genre wasn’t suitable for my developing style. I wanted to add twists (which I’d managed to do brilliantly in Life Swap, but romantic comedy didn’t allow me to surprise the reader as I wished. I also yearned to write about human nature in more depth and although I love making people laugh or feel good about life and themselves, I also wanted to chill them and surprise them.

I sent in a pitch for a psychological thriller that had been bubbling about in my brain for a couple of years and my editor loved it. I wrote the book and no sooner had I submitted it than my editor suggested I write more. She saw potential not as a stand-alone but a crime series, and so the DI Robyn Carter series came to be. Little Girl Lost shot up the charts and earned me acclaim as a crime writer.

What is your background and how did you get into writing?

It’s too long a story to tell here but as an only child and a lonely one at that, reading was my escape. Following a second prolonged period in hospital where I underwent major spinal surgery in my twenties, I communicated with my friends and family through a series of lengthy letters that charted the daily crazy events in a hospital ward. Using stories that nurses recounted to me and my observational skills, I put a humorous slant on events. Everyone loved the letters and asked for more. After my recovery and while working in Casablanca as a teacher, I began writing stories for children – purely for fun. Writing became my release just as reading had been before that and I wanted to provide the same escapism, raise spirits through humour and basically entertain people.

What do you enjoy reading and how does this influence your writing?

My parents were both avid readers and we’d all troop down to the library on a Friday to select books for the coming week. While my father enjoyed light-hearted reads such as the Don Camillo series by Giovannino Guareschi or Dennis Wheatley novels, my mother would read absolutely everything and anything. If she enjoyed it, she’d insist I read it after her. So, one week I’d read The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone, about the Italian artist Michaelangelo, the next, an historical romance from Georgette Heyer novel or something very different like Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest

At the age of seventeen, I had a major health setback that saw me bedbound in hospital for several months followed by more months at home. I read and read and read. I think I probably read almost every book available our local library during that period along with a whole bunch of Mills and Boon books my friends brought along to keep me occupied.

My literary diet was varied to say the least but my penchant was always for thrillers and crime, especially Agatha Christie’s works. I couldn’t get enough of them.

I studied both English and French Literature at university and it was there I picked up a penchant for humour. Chaucer’s works amused me enormously as did Voltaire, especially Candide.

Once I completed my studies, I began to read contemporary, ‘lighter’ reads and that was when I got heavily into thrillers. I am a speed-reader so I’ll get through a book in a few hours, much to the chagrin of my husband who insists I read any book I receive as a gift more slowly.

I absolutely adore thrillers – the darker, the better. The complexity of the human mind fascinates me and although I only studied psychology as a first-year module at university I often wish I’d delved further. I suppose, in a way I do nowadays. I spend a lot of time researching murderers and reports on those who’ve committed heinous crimes. I try to give my readers the experience of being inside the mind of my fictitious killer in most of my books. I don’t want them to feel sorry for the murderer or applaud their actions but sometimes life and unfortunate circumstances can make people behave in dreadful ways and that’s what I try to exploit.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author to help them succeed in today’s publishing industry?

My husband gave me the best advice ever when I told him I wanted to be a writer. He said if I was serious and really wanted a career out of it, I’d have to work hard and never give up. He was right. I have worked – day and night, almost every single day for the last 10 years. I have written books while on holiday, stayed awake night after night to meet deadlines and taken every knockback, bad review or disappointment on the chin. Success doesn’t always come with the first book or even the second, or the third. You might have to plug away at it for a few years before you find a publisher willing to take you on but I think that’s fine. You are honing your craft all the while and building a presence online and gradually making a name for yourself. You are improving all the time. In brief my advice is: be patient, stay positive and never give up.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

This is so tough! I’d love to collaborate with Janet Evanovich. She inspired my early writing and when I sent her an email to tell her, she answered it. She also congratulated me on Twitter when Last Lullaby came out in December – I had a complete fangirl moment and ran about the house screeching. I’d also like to work with the queen of crime, Angie Marsons, who is a fellow Bookouture author. Not only is she an incredible writer but an absolutely hilarious person. She keeps all our spirts up when we are flagging as a team with her funny posts.

Have you got any exciting new plans or projects coming up that you’d like to discuss?

This year is a busy one. Not only do I have two romantic comedies coming out but three more crime novels all in the DI Natalie Ward series. The first of those will be released in April, so expect news about it soon. I’m working on Book 4 at the moment and it is a really exciting book to write. I keep holding my breath writing some of the scenes and have to remind myself to release it. I have one last DI Robyn Carter book to pen. My fans keep emailing or messaging to ask if The Chosen Ones is the last book. Book 6 is waiting to be written, so hang on folks- I’ll get there. I’m also considering a stand-alone thriller for next year but I have a mountain of work to do before I can work on that.

 Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to going forward?

I just let out the biggest groan. You’ve reminded me that my TBR pile is a veritable mountain of books and I am so behind with my reading I need a year off to catch up. I am desperate to read all of them. Really desperate. I have a backlog of Jeffery Deaver and Jo Nesbo novels, a large number of Scandinavian Noir books, Lars Kepler’s entire series to read and a Kindle stuffed full of Bookouture authors’ works. However, there are far too many great books that I definitely want to get my hands on: Alafair Burke’s The Wife, Belinda Bauer’s Snap and CJ Tudor’s The Chalk Man, Steve Cavanagh’s Th1rt3en: Aargh, too many, stop me!

Thanks for taking the time- its been a pleasure hearing from you!