copyright: Murf 2017
I am really glad you’ve accepted my interview. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
It’s a pleasure – thanks for asking!
Can you tell us a bit more about how you became a writer?
I wrote my first ‘proper’ story when I was ten, and continued writing in secret through my teens, but I set all that aside when I started work as a school teacher. At thirty-one, I had been diagnosed with lupus (SLE), and I suffered a TIA (a mini stroke). I had difficulty with co-ordination, concentration, and – most devastatingly – with words. A full-blown stroke was a very real possibility. That was the turning point: I decided right then that I needed to at least give writing a try. Then my father died, and I was devastated. My uncle stayed overnight after the funeral and happened to ask where we were going on our summer holidays. I told him that we hadn’t had a holiday in three years, and he offered us the use of his holiday home on the North Wales coast. It was down a tree-shaded, unlit lane, a short walk from the village where British Prime Minister Lloyd George grew up. The secluded setting, the space, the quiet, the freedom from distraction – and a sharp kick in the pants from lupus – were exactly what I needed to begin writing.
Was it difficult for the first book to find a publisher?
My first two novels were rejected by many agents and publishers, though one editor did say of my second effort: “She can write – that is not in doubt.” He just didn’t think the novel fit neatly into a niche – it was what we would call “crossover fiction”, today – crime and mystery, with a hint of the supernatural. Even though it was a rejection, his comment encouraged me to carry on, and the third novel – a story about stalking on the internet – was accepted.
Could you describe literature in three words?
What an awful thing to ask a writer! But okay, I’ll try: Escape. Excitement. Reflection. (Or as a sentence: “New worlds portal.”)
Is there a book you would never read? Why?
I don’t like books that use violence exploitatively, so I suppose slasher-type horror – it’s just too easy and lazy to go for the shock factor. The same goes for extreme violence in crime novels – which might sound odd, coming from someone who’s written a novel about a killer who tattoos the victims to death. But the difference is that I leave most of that to the imagination – it’s not dwelt on or portrayed graphically in the narrative.
What’s your favorite book?
I’m going to cheat slightly, because that’s changed over the years: In my teens and twenties, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. In my early years as a writer, Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. Right now, Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane
I don’t have just one – the great thing about literature is there’s a favourite quote for every occasion. But here’s one of my favourites from Silence of the Lambs. Lecter tells the reader (and Clarice) everything she needs to know about Buffalo Bill, and yet keeps so much back.
“He covets. In fact he covets the very thing you are. It’s his nature to covet. How do we begin to covet, Clarice? . . . We begin by coveting what we see every day.”
I can’t resist adding one short quote – because it was the first time I ever saw lupus referred to in literatre: “Life’s too slippery for books, Clarice; anger appears as lust, lupus presents as hives.”
EBooks or paper print?
I can’t do without both. Ebooks for convenience when travelling. But for pleasure, reading paper print is always a more satisfying experience for me. I like the physicality of holding a book, the colours and texture of the cover and the paper, the sound of pages being turned. I have a kind of map in my head of where the key scenes are in a physical text, which I just don’t have with digital format. (It’s also better for healthy sleep patterns if you don’t stare at a lit screen just before you go to sleep!)
What inspires you?
So many things! Music, nature, wonderful writing (of course), theatre, dance, film. But when it comes to books, it’s often a disturbing image – or a nightmare – which triggers the idea.
Imagine you were given the opportunity to meet a book character in real life. Who would that be?
Although she described herself as “poor, obscure, little and plain”, Jane never doubted her worth. What a strong and resolute woman, and how underestimated she was! She remained true to herself despite terrible injustice and suffering, took control of her life, and triumphed with grace and kindness.
What’s your worst nightmare?
Having a great idea for a scene or a snatch of dialogue, but no way to record it.
The best decision of your life was?
Taking that short holiday to begin writing.
I can’t wait to read your next book. Are you currently working on a project? Is there any release date to reveal?
Book two is complete! It’s with the publisher right now, and I hope it will be released around this time next year. It’s another dark tale from Carver and Lake – a serial killer with a taste for art . . .
If people want to know more about the books, forensics, writing, or the Liverpool setting of the Carver and Lake series, drop by at: