Celia Conrad is a British author who shares similarities with the heroine of her Alicia Allen Investigates trilogy in her own Anglo-Italian heritage and solicitor experience (aka “lawyer” in the U.S.). Together they share an enthusiasm for crime solving, Shakespeare, All Things Italian and, of course, Pringles. A Model Murder was her debut novel, written at the suggestion of a mentor who encouraged her to write mysteries based on real-life stories she has encountered while working within the law. The two other novels in the series are Wilful Murder and Murder in Hand
What inspires you to write?
Inspiration for writing comes from the strangest sources and sometimes it might be a place that I have visited or something I have read or observed or a comment someone has made which sparks my imagination. I write primarily because I enjoy the process as it is very creative and therapeutic. If I have an idea for a plot I will research that idea in terms of plot development but my own personal experiences and interests have definitely had a major influence on my writing and have been quite inspirational for the books I have written to date.
Tell us about your writing process.
If I have an idea I sketch it out to see if the idea can be developed and form the basis of a plot. When I’m thrashing out initial ideas I like to jot them down, so for this exercise I use a pencil and a notepad. I find it easier to think creatively this way. With my crime novels I generally work the plot backwards having decided on my characters and who the murderer will be. By doing this I can weave twists and turns and red-herrings into the plot more easily. So, essentially, I create an outline for the book. As I start to write that outline develops and the book takes on its own shape. I write about 2000-4000 words each day and then the following day before I continue writing I edit my work, which means I am re-reading and polishing as the book progresses. When I am about half-way through I have a complete re-read. I find this very beneficial in terms of writing the remainder of the book and it is at this stage that I often make changes to the plot and the characters in the book.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My crime novels are written in the first person so I am effectively the narrator and when I am writing as the lead character I need to put myself into her place, think as she thinks and do what she does so it is almost like becoming that character. I am very much with my characters every step of the way, solving the crime with them. So with my lead character, Alicia Allen, I will be asking, “What would you do in this situation? What step would you take?” And so on…
What advice would you give other writers?
I was once told that writing is a skill you need to work on every day and also that writing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I think that it can be very frustrating and disheartening for writers having completed and published a book only to find that that is just the beginning, but my advice is to keep going and keep writing. It is also really important to learn to edit your work. My former literary agent, who sadly died before my books were published, told me to edit as I read aloud and it is a really useful tip. If it doesn’t sound right when you read it, it won’t sound right to your readers when they do!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Originally I was proceeding down the traditional publishing route as I had a literary agent who mentored me while I wrote the crime trilogy. But when he died unexpectedly events took a different turn and I decided to proceed with publishing the books anyway. They initially came out in paperback but now they are also available as Ebooks in all formats.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think it is constantly evolving and Ebooks are becoming ever more popular even though I do like to curl up with a good paperback! There are just so many ways for authors to publish their own books now and put them out into the public domain and I think that will continue.
What do you use?
Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?
murder mystery, suspense novel, cozy crime
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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