Hi everyone, I’m delighted to welcome to the blog today, crime writer Gemma Rogers. Gemma has three psychological thrillers out, and is published by Boldwood Books. I am a huge fan of her writing and was delighted when Gemma kindly agreed to answer a few questions on her writing journey.
Over to you, Gemma…
1) As a child, did you have a favourite author? Was there a turning point with any particular book that made you go ‘Wow!’
As I child I loved Judy Blume but then my head was turned by the Point Horror series, Christopher Pike and I fell in love with the genre. Richard Laymon blew me away in my teenage years and I lapped up his books. I’d have to say the book that made me go ‘wow’ was Birdman by Mo Hayder. I hadn’t read anything so dark before and I absolutely loved how chilling it was. I wished I’d written it.
2) Did you enjoy English at school?
Yes I loved it. It was a subject that made sense to me, where I felt at home. Some of the texts chosen for GCSE year, i.e. Tess of the D’Urbervilles, I hated, it was analysed to the point you couldn’t enjoy it anymore. However, I loved Macbeth. I think I’ve always been pulled towards darker stories.
3) Are you a full time writer? If so, what was your ‘life’ before turning to writing full time?
I am currently writing full time. Up until recently, I worked in Human Resources, specialising in Visa & Compliance. A role that was as non-creative as you can get.
4) What is the best thing about your publishers, Boldwood Books? Why did you choose them?
I’d been trying to get an agent with my novel Stalker, it was the second time I’d sent a manuscript around. I’d had some interest but was unsigned, still am. I saw that Boldwood were a new publishers and had a powerhouse of experienced women behind the new company start-up. It was a no-brainer for me to send my work through and I was incredibly lucky they saw something that no one else had before and signed me to write four novels.
5) Do you have any plan formed when you come up with ideas? How does your idea generation work?
I normally start to grow a plot in my head, starting with either the ‘hook’ or the ending. Long dog walks and baths help me flesh out my ideas but I know if I can’t stop thinking about it, then I’m onto a winner. Very rarely will I get writers block, nothing a good walk can’t help me to fix.
6) Can you name one author that you admire, and why you like their particular style of writing? Why do their stories intrigue you?
I admire lots of authors, the list would be endless but John Marrs for me, is such a fantastic storyteller, his novels grab you from the first page and don’t let go. They are so fast paced that you rush to devour them. I picked up The Good Samaritan whilst on holiday and it floored me. I told everyone I knew to read it, it was so deliciously dark but you couldn’t tear your eyes away.
7) What is your approach to planning your novel? Mine consisted of interviews, court visits and note taking.
I don’t plan too much if I’m honest. I do character pages where I can get to know them, always with pictures so I can visualise them which helps me write scenes. The latest book is set in an industrial laundry so I found someone who’d worked in one before and could describe what it was like. I contacted a probation officer to check some things with them, because my characters are both on probation. It varies for every book. With Reckless I took advice from another author who holds a masters in Psychology, she helped me with anxiety and OCD that my main character suffers. Another author who used to be a teacher, gave me details on aspects of teaching so I could ensure it was factually correct.
8) When you leave your desk on a Friday evening, what’s the first thing you do? On a Friday evening/the weekend, what do you do to relax?
When I’m writing, I write every day regardless of the weekend. I’m pretty relaxed and not chained to my desk, I capitalise when I’m in the mood and spurred on to write a particular chapter or scene. Luckily I don’t have to force myself too often. I absolutely love it, it’s the best job in the world. However I’d be lying if I didn’t say I indulge in a few Captain Morgan’s on a Friday and Saturday night.
9) In the start of lockdown, what were you currently reading? Have you found that your reading habits have changed?
No not really, I normally find I read thrillers and then dip into something lighter, normally Jane Fallon, when I fancy a change. I read Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James, then The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, both were excellent. More recently I’ve read The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary, which was very funny, and I’m now reading My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell which is at times a tough read. I’ve read some fantastic books this lockdown. Initially I couldn’t get into my audio books, which for me is unheard of, although I believe many people felt the same. Thankfully my appetite came back with gusto.
10) In the start of lockdown, what were you currently watching on television? Have you found that your telly habits have changed? Do you have a favourite drama that you watch religiously?
During lockdown we watched Tiger King along with half the world it seemed. What a bonkers life he had! We watched films like Contagion and Outbreak which of course, were close to home and made it all feel very real. I love any dramas, BBC, ITV and Netflix but I found we were leaning towards movies. Most recently I have been watching the Jeffrey Epstein documentary which is almost unbelievable it’s so shocking as to how he managed to get away with it for so long.
Thank you for visiting the blog today Gemma. It was a pleasure to interview you. All the best with your writing!
Gemma Rogers lives in West Sussex with her husband, two daughters and bulldog Buster. She writes gritty thrillers full time. Alongside writing her main passion is film, believing there is nothing better than a trip to the cinema and escaping into a story, hopefully one that doesn’t make her cry. Most of the Disney ones do! Favourite genres are horrors and thrillers, after all who doesn’t love a good scare?
When not writing or working, she loves exploring different country walks with Buster. The greener the better. Getting out in the fresh air helps her plot future storylines and characters. It’s excellent thinking time. She drinks lots of tea while she writes and is partial to all things sweet.