10 Questions With Sam Carrington

Good evening folks, I apologise for my absence – real life took over for several weeks and I have had UCAS application to complete and assignments to get done for my Access Course.

Without further ado though, allow me to introduce my Q&A with one of my favourite authors, the lovely Sam Carrington.

Sam discusses her degree in psychology, how her publication day felt and how her lead detective DI Wade changes in her next book Bad Sister.

1) As a child, did you have a favourite author?

Yes, Enid Blyton was my favourite. I devoured the ‘Adventure’ series and loved ‘Hello, Mr Twiddle!’

2) Did you enjoy English at school?

I did! English literature was my best subject – I always found it interesting and adored reading the set books, interpreting them and discussing what we thought the author was trying to achieve.

3) At Open University, what was your psychology degree like and how did you find your experience?

It was really challenging completing a degree with a young family and full-time job. I enjoyed many aspects of the course and I loved trying to better myself. I did have high expectations of myself too, though, which made it stressful sometimes. If I got a distinction in one assignment I HAD to ensure the same in the next one. I ended up with a 2:1 which is great, but I would’ve preferred a first! Gaining the degree definitely helped me secure my job as psychological assistant in the prison.

4) How did you feel meeting your agent and what was your publication day like?

I was so nervous on the way to London to meet my prospective agent, but to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d heard that agents were the ‘gatekeepers’ and in some ways held them in such high regard that they became almost God like! They are, I can now confirm, very lovely people! It was a great day when I met Anne, and I immediately liked her. I was so completely thrilled when she offered representation. I celebrated in London with my sister and daughter, and couldn’t stop smiling!

Publication day for my debut novel, Saving Sophie, was in two parts – the ebook being published four months ahead of the paperback. Both days were amazing, but seeing my paperback on the shelves in stores is a moment I’ll never forget.

5) Is it nerve wracking, knowing that you have someone to impress, but also someone who will champion you and your writing?

It’s a very strange mix isn’t it? Yes, when a manuscript is with my agent I’m biting my nails and half-dreading the feedback. But, on the other hand, she is championing my writing which is a fantastic and reassuring feeling!

6) I LOVE Lindsay Wade in Bad Sister, as I feel we get to know her more as a human being, not just as a detective. Do you have any tips on creating a police procedural aspect to your novels?

I like to have the police procedural aspect as more of a side line, instead, focussing on the main characters – the ones who have/are going through the issues and problems I’ve set for them. It can be a difficult balancing act but for me, concentrating on the main character of the story I’m telling helps me to keep them the most important aspect. I enjoyed writing the police scenes, however, I do try and keep the procedural side low-key. It’s more about the people.

7) Do you have a favourite all time book?

I always answer The Secret Life of Bees to this question! I think it was a book that surprised me, I didn’t expect to enjoy it as it’s out of my reading ‘comfort zone’. But I loved the writing and the story stayed with me.

8) Do you like Rod Stewart and do you have a favourite song of his?

Of course! Legend. My favourite Rod song would be You’re In My Heart.

Thanks for your time Sam x

A Feature by Fiona Glass

Good afternoon, folks. I’m delighted to welcome fiction writer Fiona Glass to my blog. Fiona has kindly agreed to share a feature on her novel, Got Ghosts. 

Here it is. 

Where there’s a ghost there’s a… crime!

Book genres are becoming ever more firmly fixed these days: something is either horror, or romance, or sci-fi, or crime, and those genres are rarely allowed to mix. But real life’s a lot more blurry than that, and even in fiction, if you scratch the surface of almost any book you find other elements creeping in.

My own book, Got Ghosts?, is no exception. Of course, at heart it’s pure paranormal, with a haunted manor house, a medium who stirs up something she shouldn’t, and all sorts of fun but spooky goings-on. But underneath all that, there’s something more sinister. Because where you have ghosts, you must have had deaths, and only some of those are natural.
Most of the ghosts at Greystones Hall are harmless enough – a medieval knight, a young woman with a baby, even owner Emily’s recently deceased grandfather. But when a TV production company come to film the ghosts, it disturbs a new and malevolent spirit called Alfred, who takes a violent dislike to Emily and her artwork. He rampages through the house, scares the TV crew silly, and upsets the local vicar. And not even Gramps and the other ghosts can help.

At first Emily is as baffled and scared as everyone else. But with a little help from Gramps – and Guy, the deputy back-up medium – she sets out to solve the mystery. And even as the TV crew chase the ghosts – and vice versa – she manages to find out who Alfred is, why he’s so unhappy, and what happened to his own beloved paintings. 

Theft, jealousy, murder, revenge – all these could easily be elements of a proper crime novel. So does that make Got Ghosts? crime? Well, no, not really – it’s far too lighthearted for that, and there are far too many ghosts! But it does show that sometimes, the boundaries between genres aren’t quite so inflexible after all…

Fiona lives within stone-throwing distance (never a good idea in Glass houses…) of England’s largest lake. When she isn’t being a pane in the glass, she writes dark contemporary and paranormal fiction. 

This is mostly in the shape of short stories, but she’s also had two paranormal romance novels and two novellas published so far. Her latest book, Got Ghosts?, a ghostly romp involving a TV production crew in a haunted English manor house, has just been published by Fox Spirit Books. 

You can find Fiona lurking on the internet at her website (www.fiona-glass.com), Facebook (facebook.com/fiona.glass.33) or Twitter (twitter.com/F_Glass_Author). 

Please come and say hello!

Thanks so much for your time, Fiona. 

10 Questions With Matt Johnson

Good afternoon folks and I’m delighted to welcome Crime writer Matt Johnson to my blog. Here, he chats his career highlights from when he was a police officer, self publishing his debut novel Wicked Game and getting an agent for it, and his advice for aspiring crime writers looking to write police procedurals. 

1) As a child, did you have a favourite author and do you have a favourite author now?

I did, and it rather dates me to admit it was PG Wodehouse. I used to really enjoy his work. Nowadays, that’s a much harder question to answer as, over the years, I have developed an eclectic taste. I like some science fiction – Frank Herbert and Isaac Asimov – I enjoyed the James Herbert horror books like The Fog and The Rats, and I thought Birdsong by Seb Faulks was excellent. Possibly the most memorable book I’ve read was Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist – a book that really made me take note and think.

2) Did you enjoy English at school?

Not particularly. I liked writing essays but, when it came to literature, I didn’t really care for the choices on the syllabus – Shakespeare and Thomas Hardy. Not my cup of tea, I’m afraid. I dropped English at 16, preferring the sciences at that age and planning a career in the Army.

3) How did you find your career with the Metropolitan Police? Any career highlights?

Too many to list! Twenty-odd years left me with many memories. I saw tragedy, heartache and helped to take some very bad people off the streets. I also delivered a baby, drove in car chases, attended a Royal wedding and ‘dad-danced- at the Notting Hill Carnival. A rich tapestry of experience doing what many cops refer to as the best job in the world.

4) What was your inspiration for Deadly Game and the sequel Wicked Game?

Personal experience of PTSD and of people trafficking. I wanted to use fiction to write about both to try and reach an audience who might not normally read about such things.

5) Did you encounter differences when writing the sequel to your debut?

Very much so. Wicked Game as a debut raised the bar for me. Not that I’m complaining, but having the book CWA listed and to have had it receive such an amazing reception meant that the pressure was on to ensure book two matched it. I became very self-critical during the writing process and was pretty nervous when it hit the shelves, even though I liked it myself.

6) How did you find self publishing Wicked Game by Amazon and then publishing a physical copy via your agent?

Self-publishing is a great way to reach out to people, especially when you consider how very hard it is to break into traditional publishing. Self-publishing means retaining control for everything from content to marketing. Traditional publishing means handing that control over. For me, traditional publishing was always the ambition. It opens doors, puts you in the hands of experts and helps you reach an audience you can never reach by yourself – Rachel Abbott excepted of course!

7) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors – particularly if they’re writing police procedural?

Do your research – thoroughly! You owe it to people who are going to pay for the privilege of reading your work to get it right.

8) How do you find you work best – music or silence? Do you have a particular band or artist you currently like?

Mostly I work in a quiet office with a view over the Brecon Beacons. It’s peaceful. But I do use a website that plays sound effects like waves on a shore, or rainfall, which I find helps me concentrate.

9) What genre of music did you grow up listening to and has your taste changed?

I was a Bowie child and Elton John went to the same school as me, so they were both idols of mine. That said I loved Pink Floyd, Status Quo, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top and others so I guess that makes me something of a rock fan. As with books, I have eclectic taste, enjoying the classics and some opera. Rap, house and some modern music puzzles me, though. I just can’t find it enjoyable.

10) I find writing is therapy for me, somewhere I escape to and where I feel I can lose myself in the written word, how do you feel when writing?

Exactly the same. Once I’m away in my fantasy world the time passes very quickly. It’s tiring, relaxing and cathartic all at the same time. The wonderful thing is that others enjoy the result, something I will always be grateful for.

Thanks for your time, Matt. 

10 Questions With Louise Jensen

Good evening folks, I don’t know about you lot but I’m made up it’s nearly the weekend! Thank God!! 

This evening I’m delighted to welcome psychological thriller writer Louise Jensen to my blog. Here, she chats how she was discovered by the WoMentoring Project, the writing processes for her novels The Sister and The Gift and whether she shares my love of Rod Stewart. 

Over to you, Louise. 

1) As a child, did you have a favourite author and do you have a favourite author now? 

Enid Blyton was my favourite author and I’m currently reading the Famous Five series with my youngest son (I read them to his older brothers too) so I guess she still is!

2) Did you enjoy English at school? 

I loved English although I found some of the reading quite heavy going. I’ve re-read the classics as an adult and have a whole new admiration for them now.

3) How did you come up with the idea behind The Sister? 

 I visited a writing group and was given three words and was given three words and a ten-minute time limit to come up with something. That something was the bare bones of chapter one.

4) How did winning a mentor in WoMentoring feel? 

I was SO scared applying. I’d read the website about a million times and decided it was for ‘real writers’ not someone like me with no experience and no qualifications in writing. It took a good half a bottle of wine before I had the courage to apply. I was delighted when Louise Walters agreed to be my mentor. Letting someone read your words is huge and she was very kind.

5) How did meeting your agent feel? 

 A bit like a job interview! I was hugely nervous and took along my husband for support. Thankfully we both felt really at ease when we met him and we all got on really well. You put your career in your agent’s hands to a degree so there has to be mutual trust and respect.

6) When you were an aspiring author, what was the best piece of advice you were given? 

Write the book you want to read. (And incidentally I don’t particularly like the term ‘aspiring’ writer. If you write you ARE a writer. Be proud of it, published or not.

7) How’s best for you to work – music or silence? 

Music. I listen to piano music when I write a first draft so I’m not distracted and then when I edit I can listen to songs with lyrics. Music is a huge part of my life and I make sure my characters listen to songs to suit them. Every book has a playlist.

8) How was the writing process for The Sister different to the writing process for The Gift?

The Sister was very much a ‘Yay I get to spend time with Grace and Charlie again – how lovely’ process. The Gift was ‘OMG I’ve a book deal, a deadline and I have to write and I haven’t a clue what I’m doing’ period. I found it quite stressful and was very much finding my feet as a new writer while The Sister was hugely successful worldwide and there was pressure to deliver something that equalled, if not bettered it.

9) Did you grow up listening to a genre of music and how has it changed? 

I love music and go to gigs whenever I can. When I was younger I was a huge heavy metal/rock fan and although I still listen to rock my taste is a little mellower these days. The Counting Crows have been my favourite band for the past 25 years. Adam Duritz is such an emotive writer. His lyrics really move me.

10) Have you heard of Rod Stewart and if so, do you like any of his songs? 

I took my husband to see Rod Stewart for his birthday a couple of years ago at the O2. My mum was a huge fan and although I’d grown up with his music I didn’t think I’d remember many of his songs. I did and I felt quite emotional listening to them. Rod was amazing, we’ve seen younger artists do shorter sets and run out of stamina but he was full of energy, charming and utterly professional. I do hope to see him again one day.

Thanks for your time, Louise. 

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