I’m forty-something. I used to be an investment banker (well-paid, but evil) and am now a crime novelist (impoverished, but angelic). I live in Oxfordshire in the UK and like dogs, swimming, climbing and anything that involves fire. I’m married and my wife and I are expecting twins. Which is great, but also a bit yikes!
What inspires you to write?
Well, I could give you a flippant answer and say the heating bill – and there’s a kind of truth in that. The fact is that earning a living from the pen does make one a bit more disciplined about hours and such like. But most – I just love it. Writing is still the most enjoyable thing I do in a week and I find that I enjoy it more as time goes by. That’s not to say it’s not hard work – it is! it is! – but it’s wonderfully rewarding.
Tell us about your writing process.
I don’t have much of a process to write about. I’m not one of those people who have to be sitting at a special desk, in a darkened room, with no internet access, and so on. Essentially, I just need plenty of time. I also find that I need a few months thinking about a book and a plotline before it makes sense to start writing it. My current detective character was in my head for about two years before I started writing the first novel in the series.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Nope. I just sit down and follow orders. My current character, Fiona Griffiths, has a very strong and certain voice and really my only task is to ensure that I stay authentic to her. If I do that, then everything else – including plot – follows quite sweetly. That’s not to say that all my books have been character-led. I’ve written some where plot has clearly been dominant. But it’s lovely having a strong central character who just canters off on the page. I just chase along trying to write fast enough.
What advice would you give other writers?
Two bits of advice really. One, always write what you love. Two, always write what the market wants. It’s not that those two things are in opposition really. It’s just that you have to find an intersection between the two. Writing an unmarketable book just strikes me as silly. Writing a book you don’t love – now that would be evil.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I’ve got a literary agent and I’ve got book deals in the UK, the US and elsewhere, so it’s a pretty easy decision for me. I think new writers should nearly always set out to go down the conventional route but look at self-pub / e-pub as an excellent backup. Part of my activity is that I run a company for new writers which offers creative writing courses and the like. One of our clients self-published and is selling books by the tens of thousands. We then helped him get a literary agent and some of his books he publishes conventionally and others he does self-pub. That seems like a viable model for the evolving industry.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It’s changing fast and that’s great. Authors are more empowered than they have been in the past, and that’s fantastic.
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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