Elizabeth (E J ) Lamprey lives on the Firth of the Forth, within easy distance of Edinburgh, Scotland, and only a few miles from where Grasshopper Lawns would be if there was a Grasshopper Lawns retirement village. She’s the daughter of a Scot, looks like a Scot, dearly loves Scotland, but accepts that with a mere thirteen years residence she is still considered a tourist, albeit a tenacious one.
She has been variously a book reviewer on a city paper, a columnist in a national magazine, a copy-editor and critiquer, a commercial blogger, and a reporter on a country newspaper, alongside more conventional, better-paid, jobs. Writing a series of cheerful whodunits set in a Scottish retirement village is definitely her favourite occupation
What inspires you to write?
Writing is an itch which has to be scratched. My first stories were in crayon, and short on plot, but I can’t ever remember a time when writing wasn’t one of my greatest pleasures – just as well, as not writing has never been an option.
Tell us about your writing process.
With a whodunit you have to solve the murder and then work backwards, building in the clues and the red herrings and pulling together all the threads. If it’s done right, the reader should be solving the murder(s) pretty much neck-and-neck with the characters, so no clues are held back and the reader at all times knows as much as the characters do, has heard what they’ve heard, and can try to beat them to the final conclusion. It makes them the most fun of all to write, but the hardest to get right!
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Although I have four main characters, there are over twenty trying to push their way into every story, it’s like herding cats. I generally have control, but occasionally I’ll let an unexpected idea play itself out. It’s not always usable, but always interesting!
What advice would you give other writers?
Get good beta readers. Just knowing who you’re writing for is a fantastic focus, and their input – even when it is just a vague ‘I didn’t get where you were going’ or ‘I lost track of the dudes’ makes you look at your work with fresh eyes, before the book ever goes for professional checking. And get the book professionally checked. Ask around, if necessary, to find somebody good – not everyone who calls themselves an editor is – but otherwise you’re throwing away all those hours and hours of work by publishing with silly mistakes that friends may overlook, but strangers won’t forgive.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I wanted to try self-publishing, just to see what was involved. I honestly didn’t realize what a roller-coaster I was stepping on, but now I’m hooked. Of course I’d like to be traditionally published, because to so many people it’s the only recognition that counts, but there are so many books, and so few publishers. Also now that I’ve gone on my own three times (3rd book coming out in October 2013) I’m not sure I would really want to lose overall control of content, artwork, editing, and the final product. I’d be happy to lose the promoting, because I’m rubbish at that.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think the indie book is here to stay, but I also think some kind of classification must be imminent. Hundreds of thousands of books being published every year with no standards whatsoever, some of them rubbish, some of them potentially brilliant but badly produced, are bad for the entire name of indie publishing. I think some of the websites promoting better books will start combining and become a force to be reckoned with, and I think that’s going to be very good. Of course in my perfect world I would keep most of the control I have now, but hand all the promoting over to an expert, and that would be bliss.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Fiction, Crime, Whodunit, Mystery/Suspense, Thriller, Detective
What formats are your books in?
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