I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I also wanted to be a singer, even though I don’t have a note in my head! The writing dream stayed with me, despite me ignoring it for a great many years. It was always waiting in the wings.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I’d say 12 months, more or less. The first draft probably takes about four months, another two months working on honing in the overall structure and text; the same again after editorial feedback is received. After that, it’s copyediting and final bits and pieces. However, the story germinates in my mind for a long time before I start writing. The idea and general theme come first, often with a particular character in mind. Other bits then fall into place, so I have a firm grounding by the time I put pen to paper. Even more of the story unfolds as I write, and there are always surprises.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
It varies. In general, I tend to write early mornings, starting around 6 a.m. I like working before the rest of the world gets up, and then I’ll work until early afternoon. After that, the other day job and family kicks in. During editing, or if I’m close to a deadline, it’s every hour in the day that I can possibly manage. Large cups of coffee and sugary treats are often required, which is why, when I can, I try to go out walking as part of the routine.
How many crime novels have you written?
My first novel, Red Ribbons was published last year. My second novel, The Doll’s House will be out August 1st, and I’m currently working on the next one. I’d attempted novel writing before Red Ribbons, on two previous occasions, but lost courage halfway through. I don’t regret that. It was all part of the journey,
Which is your favourite and why?
I think stories, especially stories which span the length of a novel, are like your children, each of them being special in their own way. You spend at least a year of your life thinking about them and then writing them, so they all have a strong place in your creative heart.
It’s always important to be excited about your current work, so if I was pushed for a favourite, it would be the current story, only because it is unfolding all the time.
Where do you get your ideas?
I read somewhere recently that there’s no such a thing as writer’s block, it’s more ‘idea block’. I’m not sure about that, but as I mentioned earlier, usually something will grab me creatively and will stay in my head for a long time. When it does, I know it’s there for a reason. I hope my novels are emotionally charged, and it’s the emotional story or potential consequences which takes hold. I don’t focus on being overly clever with regard to plot. I’m willing to let the characters develop into the story, although the end result is a multi-layered plot.
Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?
Gosh, that’s a hard one. Dr Kate Pearson, the criminal psychologist, who appears in each of the novels, is evolving at all time, so she’s particularly interesting. When new characters are brought in, I tend to align with the main protagonist more than others. For Red Ribbons, The Doll’s House, and the current novel, the main protagonist is written in first person. I think this allows me go deeper into their mind-set. I like the bad guys too. As the writer, I don’t set myself up as judge and jury over them. They have their own light within the dark.
Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
The one that instantly jumps to mind is the character of Hannibal created by Thomas Harris, but there are many more. I tend to link to characters who bring you places you haven’t been before.
If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
Fictionally, the character of Sherlock Holmes would be rather good! I love the old puzzle solving aspect, and he certainly got himself into all kinds of interesting scenarios.
I wouldn’t like to be anyone from history who did evil things. Writing about them, and being them are totally different. So I’d be happy to be any one of the good guys!
What are you working on now?
The working title of my current novel is Last Kiss. There is something of a clue in the title! I don’t tend to say too much about a work while it’s evolving, mainly because you can lose some of the magic unfolding in your mind. Ask me again in six months, and I’ll give you lengthy paragraphs.
Born in Dublin, Louise Phillips returned to writing in 2006, after raising her family. Louise’s work has been published as part of many anthologies, including County Lines from New Island, and various literary journals. In 2009, she won the Jonathan Swift Award for her short story Last Kiss, and in 2011 she was a winner in the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice platform. She has also been short-listed for the Molly Keane Memorial Award, Bridport UK, and long-listed twice for the RTÉ Guide/Penguin Short Story Competition. In 2012, she was awarded an Arts Bursary for Literature from South Dublin County Council. Her bestselling debut novel, Red Ribbons, was shortlisted for Best Irish Crime Novel of the Year (2012) in the Irish Book Awards. Her second novel The Doll’s House will be published August 1st 2013.
Places to find Louise