Thursday, 30 May 2013

Ten facts about … Gillian Hamer




When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I’m not totally sure it was ever a premeditated decision. I was good at English at school and had an excellent English teacher in junior school who got me interested in books. I loved our village library – started with Enid Blyton and soon moved onto Agatha Christie. I think writing was a natural progression of reading for me – wanting to create my own stories and realising I was quite good at it and it wasn’t something everyone else could do as easily as I could!

And then I think encouragement from my partner, Adrian, about twelve years ago gave me the confidence to take it up a notch and consider going for a full-length novel, rather than short stories. And then from there to the creative writing course, and onwards to considering publication. A long, hard, slow road. No easy fixes.

How long does it take you to write a book?
From start to finish about a year depending on how much research is needed. Every book I’ve written has gone through several rewrites which I can do in a couple of months if I have a deadline. But the actual journey from idea to finished product via numerous edits would be twelve months or more. I’m in awe of these writers who can rattle a book off in a couple of months, first draft is the finished article, that will never work in my case!

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
With working full time, I find it hard to have a writing schedule – I’d probably write much faster and be a lot more productive if I had time I could dedicate on a regular basis. Early morning, late at night and Sundays are really my writing time. If I have a deadline I will grab every hour I can. If I’m writing for pleasure I may just do one evening and a Sunday morning.

How many crime novels have you written?
I have three novels published: The Charter, Closure and Complicit comes out on June 1st. I have another two novels in a series called The Gold Detectives that my agent is pitching as we speak. And I have another two finished novels that need work that will hopefully see the light one day. So, that’s seven now!

Which is your favourite and why?
Probably Closure, because it’s what I class as my first proper completed novel – although it has gone through numerous rewrites. It’s part of the cross-genre crime books that I love to write – crime with a hint of paranormal. It looks at the topic of reincarnation and how different people have opposing views about such things.

I found the whole subject fascinating; much of the research I included in the book really opened my eyes to the topic. And I still remember where I got the original idea – from a television programme where a young boy was regressed and then taken back to the remote Shetland Island where he knew he’d lived previously. I knew there was a story there that I wanted to retell in my own way and I loved creating the characters. Yes, it’s probably the book that has made me the most proud to date.

Where do you get your ideas?
Closure – I’ve just covered.

With The Charter it was a fascination with shipwrecks which I’ve always had – I used to collect anything to do with the Titanic as a child. Having a house on Anglesey and friends who come from the area, I’ve grown up with stories about the shipwrecks around the coast and spent hours treasure hunting on the beaches. I remember visiting Llanallgo Church as a child – where most of the Royal Charter victims are buried – and getting really drawn into the story. I researched it and then tried to think of ways of bringing it to life in a modern day crime story.

With Complicit it was the discovery of the Staffordshire hoard – a treasure hoard of Saxon gold – found near my parent’s home that gave me the idea. I went to see it at Birmingham Museum, then went to a lecture given by the archaeologists, and decided I wanted to write about a treasure hunt in the modern day but also cover how and why the treasure ended up where it did - as that seems to this day to be something we will never know about the Staffordshire hoard. Anglesey is famous for its Roman invasion and its strong Druidic influences – so that seemed a perfect combination!

Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?
Probably Helen West – the mother of the reincarnated child who suffers from the nightmares and traumas in Closure. She’s a strong woman, grieving for the loss of her husband, and having to cope with seeing her child suffer. And yet, she is strong enough to stand up to the doctors who doubt him – and has strength in those convictions right up to the point of travelling back to the place her son remembered from his previous life. She has balls – and I like a woman with balls!

Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
Goodness me, so many! I’d have to choose one obvious one as a crime writer – Miss Marple. I love how Christie broke moulds by choosing a female – and an elderly female at that. I love how she was quietly intelligent, letting the big, strong male detectives think they were solving the cases – whereas behind the scenes she was steering them in the right direction. She had a brilliant knack of knowing people, understanding what made them tick, and yet she carried it off with a brilliant air of humility. And I loved the twinkle in her eye!

If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
That’s a really interesting question I’ve never considered before. I’d want to be a goodie, so on the side of the police, I don’t think in real life I’d be much good as a baddie. So, a really interesting crime that was never solved maybe. Jack the Ripper? I could be the Victorian female detective who came along with her new forensic tricks and solved the crime! There … could be a story in there.

What are you working on now?
I’m actually on a mini-break. I’ve been writing solidly on rewrites for the past twelve months. Complicit is out in a couple of weeks, so I’m going to give myself the summer to enjoy reading and start thinking of a few new storylines. I’ll see how long I last – I may well be engrossed in a new full length novel in a month’s time if something takes my interest!


The Charter & Closure are available as paperback or ebook on Amazon. Complicit available soon. 



Biography:
Born in the industrial Midlands, Gillian's heart has always yearned for the wilds of North Wales and the pull of the ocean. A company director for twenty years, she has written obsessively for over a decade, predominantly in the crime genre. She has completed six full length novels and numerous short stories. After completing a creative writing course, she decided to take her writing to the next level and sought representation. She is a columnist for Words with Jam literary magazine, a regular theatre goer and avid reader across genres.

TWITTER : @gillyhamer

Friday, 24 May 2013

Ten facts about ... Ruth Dugdall



When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I met with an old school friend recently, having not seen her for 25 years, and she said that on during our first year at secondary school we had each been asked what we wanted to be when we grew up and I’d said “a writer”. So I suppose the answer is 12 years old!

How long does it take you to write a book?
Years. From starting with the first draft to eventual publication has been five years for each of my published novels. And I have been working on my current novel since 2009…But I don’t work on one novel exclusively, so that time will be divided between at least two on-going projects.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
At the beginning, I can be prolific, and set myself a goal of 1000 words a day. But that just gets the first draft done and the journey from that to the finished novel is long (see above!) so I will then go over the draft repeatedly, working in themes or sub-plots or adding in research.

How many crime novels have you written?
Three have been published, but I have written a further two, and two others are in first draft stage.

Which is your favourite and why?
Difficult question. The James Version was my first novel so, like a first child, I made mistakes but I also learned a great deal. The Woman Before Me is my most successful novel, and it is also the most emotional (it concerns motherhood and the death of children, and the first draft was written when I was on maternity leave) and can still make me cry. But I think my best novel is The Sacrificial Man. I like the coolness of Alice, and I feel my writing is strongest with cool and detached characters.
 
Where do you get your ideas?
From life: cases I’ve worked; stories I’ve read in the newspaper. I was a probation officer and continue to work with Criminal Justice so I come across troubling and bizarre stories often. The ones I write about are the ones that I can’t stop thinking about: why did that happen? How does someone justify that?


Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?
Alice, my cannibal killer from Lavenham. Because she doesn’t realise she’s the protagonist in a crime novel; she thinks she’s a romantic heroine in a love story.

Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
Camille Preaker from Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Edges is a brilliant invention. She is a self-harmer but she writes words on her body.

If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
Elizabeth Fry, prison reformer. I’m attracted to the idea of making a difference.

What are you working on now?
My Sister And Other Liars. It’s a revenge tale, and a coming of age story, about a young girl who has decided to kill the man who attacked her sister.

Twitter: ruthdugdall
Ruthdugdall.com
Facebook: ruthdugdallauthor



Thursday, 16 May 2013

Ten facts about … David W Robinson






Ten facts about … David W Robinson

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I was about 12 years old, and I’d just read ‘And Then There Were None’ by Agatha Christie, and I thought, hmm, I can do that. I began writing short stories soon after, but naturally, I never did anything with them. I only began to take it seriously in my 30s and I was over 50 before I published my first novel.

How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends on the book. I write full time now, and I can turn out a STAC Mystery (50-80,000 words) in a month, but longer, more detailed work, such as The Handshaker, can take anything up to two years.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Manic. I’m usually up by six, when I spend an hour checking overnight emails, chart positions and sales estimates. I write a blog post if I have one in mind, and then I begin work usually by eight in the morning. I work until 1 p.m. with only the occasional breaks to walk the dog, then take an hour off for lunch. I’m back at it just after two and I usually finish around seven in the evening, again with odd breaks to walk the dog.

How many crime novels have you written?
Hundreds LOL. Mercifully, not all of them have seen the light of day.

As of this moment, I have seven STAC Mysteries published, and the eighth is due next month. I also have one dark thriller, The Handshaker, and the sequel to that is with my publisher. By the time they’re released, it’ll be ten published works.
 
Which is your favourite and why?
The I-Spy Murders, which is STAC Mystery #2. I hate TV, and I especially hate shows like Big Brother, so it seemed to me to be the perfect setting for a murder. It would be practically impossible with the cameras covering every action, so I had to alter the TV company’s methodology slightly, and I was really pleased with the end result.

Where do you get your ideas?
They’re all around me. Tiny, ordinary events which happen all the time. When something catches my attention, I ask myself, “What if…”

For example: There is a huge supermarket nearby, and I was having breakfast there when I noticed a woman making notes by the DVD displays. She wore an identity badge on a cord around her neck. Nothing strange about that. She was obviously a member of staff.

But what if she wasn’t? What if she was a spy for another supermarket, or what if she was from the DVD producers looking for pirate copies? And what if she turned up murdered later in the day?

Change the giant, nationally known supermarket to a privately owned minimarket, throw in a lover, several red herrings, and you have a murder mystery. All while I’m taking tea and toast in a supermarket cafĂ©.

Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?
Brenda Jump from the STAC Mysteries. Brenda is a widow and her husband’s early death brought home to her the realisation that life is not forever, in the same way that my younger brother’s early and unexpected death (he was 54) hit me. Brenda is hell bent on enjoying herself. As long as she’s not hurting anyone else, she’ll have a damn good time.

Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
In crime fiction or any genre? If any genre, it would be Tom Sharpe’s masterly creation, Henry Wilt. He doesn’t make things happen, they just happen to him.

If, on the other hand, we’re talking crime then it would be Hercule Poirot. This annoying little man never jumps to arbitrary conclusions. He notices everything, and formulates his theories to take account of that everything.

If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
A difficult question, but on the whole I think Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Topping of the Greater Manchester Police. He was the officer who reopened the Moors Murders inquiry in 1985, and despite some criticism, as a result of his work, Hindley admitted her part in all five murders. They also recovered the body of Pauline Reade.

What are you working on now?
STAC Mystery 9, which is set in your part of the world, Torremolinos. My wife and I were there in January this year, and I thought it was time Joe had a suspected heart attack and a holiday. Why should I leave him enjoying the sunshine on the Costa del Sol when he could be investigating a murder (or two)?

I’m also working on two new series. Later this year will see Madeleine Chester, a nosy genealogist, make her debut, and  the other series will be an attempt to revive British farce with a series of crime based novels featuring Dennis and Danny, a couple of idiots, who win through more by luck than judgement.

Finally, there are plans for a third Croft/Millie novel to follow The Handshaker and its sequel, but I must admit, I haven’t done much work on it.

***

David Robinson is 63 years young. A former adult education teacher, now a full time novelist, he abides by the principle that if you haven’t grown up by the time you’re 50, you don’t have to. His series of light-hearted whodunits, the STAC Mysteries, have remained in the Amazon UK Kindle, British Detectives chart for the last six months. He lives on the outskirts of Manchester with his wife and a crazy Jack Russell terrier name Joe.

Find David at:
Website/blog: http://www.dwrob.com/
Twitter: @DW96


Published by Crooked Cat Books

The STAC Mysteries
The Filey Connection
The I-Spy Murders
A Halloween Homicide
A Murder for Christmas
Murder at the Murder Mystery Weekend
My Deadly Valentine
The Chocolate Egg Murders

Other Works
The Handshaker
Voices

Coming soon
Costa del Murder (STAC Mysteries)
The Deep Secret (sequel to The Handshaker)