A Blog and Page Update.

I’ve been having some admin problems with my laptop (due for replacement) an, separately, with Facebook.

In the meantime, my friend (and fellow Crooked Cat author), Nicola Slade, has had her latest book out!

I have started doing the odd Author Interview – and posting them around a bit. I have also tried to find a change from the eternal “interview questions” After all, a good interview will show us all something of the “inner writer”.


So here is Nicola’s interview. Her book, The House at Ladywell, a mystery romance, was out recently.

What makes a good story? A world you totally believe in and have to shake yourself when you finish it and remember it’s not real!

How have YOU become a better writer? Practice and not giving up

What inspires you? Something inside that’s burning to be heard

What does your family think of your writing? They’re completely supportive and my younger daughter is my first reader. She sees everything and is a great part of the whole production

What was the most surprising things you learned about yourself in creating your books? That you can mine depths inside yourself that you never imagined to be there. And that there would always be comedy in my books, even in the murders.

If you could have written any book, what would it have been and why? Persuasion – the perfect romantic novel

How much research do you do? My books are full of history, even the contemporary ones, so it’s online browsing, a lot of reading, and visits to castles, museums, stately homes, etc

How do you relax? Read in the bath or in bed. (Actually, reading anywhere!)

Do you have any writing quirks? (and if so what?) I write straight to screen on my desk top. I do have dozens of scrappy bits of paper with scribbled notes but I usually have a rough idea of what will happen, and bung it up on screen to see if it works.

Why write in your genre?  I write romantic comedy, historical/contemporary romantic novels, contemporary cosy mystery and historical cosy mystery: the common themes are the ones I love to read myself. History, romance, comedy and mystery.

How is your writing different now from when you started writing? Much more confident – and better, I hope, after paying attention to rejections, words of advice from editors, and reviews.

What do people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that they don’t? They think romantic novelists write Barbara Cartland romances and wear pink hats; they assume crime novelists have peculiar brains to concentrate on killing people (mind you, that might be true!) and they assume that for either genre, authors make millions every time they have a book published.

Your 3 favourite authors? Charlotte M. Yonge, Terry Pratchett, and Patricia Wentworth

In what ways do you ’service’ or ‘support’ your books? I do talks to libraries and social groups (call me!). I’m a member of a panel of crime writers based on the south coast; we’re the Deadly Dames(!) and we’ve appeared at festivals and conferences, as well as libraries and other groups. I have a slightly haphazard blog and I am on Facebook and Twitter. I follow other writers and support them too.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? Delighted with good reviews, spit a few tacks at bad but don’t dwell on them.

What makes your book(s) stand out from the crowd? The House at Ladywell literally stands out because of its fabulous cover design! Otherwise, it’s an unusual blend of mystery, romance, a delicate hint of ghosts and magic and lots of historical echoes. And a hero who has made some reviewers wish he was real!

Tell us something about your road to being published. It’s a long one! I had some stories published on the children’s page of The People’s Friend when I was about 23; a book for children about ten years later was accepted by a publisher but scuppered when they changed direction and dropped children’s books; short stories in The Brownie Magazine (I was a Brown Owl at the time), followed by short stories for women’s magazines, notably My Weekly. Eventually Transita Ltd published Scuba Dancing, a rom.com – although it’s my first published book it was actually the seventh full-length novel I’d written. Sigh…

Plotter or Pantser. Bit of both but I don’t do a detailed plan. In my mysteries I generally know at the start: Whodunnit, What it was they dun, Why they dun it, Who they dun it too – and I write the last chapter early one. It’s just the yawning gap in the middle that needs to be filled in…

Your main character. What makes him or her so special? Freya has, as the cliché goes, ‘a journey’ and some of the discoveries she makes are pretty unusual. She’s getting over a shattering period in her life and is timidly but bravely taking a step into the unknown. Not so much waiting for the Prince to awaken Sleeping Beauty, more that Beauty is already hacking her way through the brambles when the Prince appears!

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?

Well, the obvious question is: Nicola, will you sign this contract to televise your delightful novel, The House at Ladywell. I’m waiting, but Julian Fellowes hasn’t called yet.

Thanks, Nicola! Some great responses. Charlotte M Yonge is an odd choice today – and, surprise, surprise, I have an odd family connection. A Chaplet of Pearls was dedicated to (if I remember correctly) my Gt Gt Grandmother. Funny old world!

Persuasion is also one of my absolutre favourites. Certainly my favourite Jane Austen.



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