Bea Davenport Nine Lives Interview

Welcome to our latest Nine Lives Interview featuring best-selling crime author Bea Davenport answering nine questions about her and her writing life.


Do you remember the first book you read?

Not really – unless you count reading scheme books at school and Ladybird fairytale books. But I was a keen reader from quite an early age. I remember going to the old Walkerville and Wallsend libraries two or three times a week and I would also spend my pocket money on Enid Blyton paperbacks (Famous Five and the like) every Saturday, in Allan’s in North Shields. Then my dad would complain because I’d have half of it read by the time I got home.

Where is your ideal place to read, and do you have a favourite time of day for reading?

I’m an afternoon/evening reader when I get the time – I think I feel too guilty to relax into reading in the mornings. But like many people my favourite place would be on a sun lounger, somewhere warm and peaceful.

Which authors have inspired or influenced you?

There are so many – this is really hard!

When I was a child I really wanted to be Enid Blyton - but when I was younger I thought that people like me didn’t become ‘writers’, for a living. It felt a bit like joining the Royal Family – you had to be someone special. This is now one of the things I try to dispel when I do writing workshops with young people. I try to get across that anyone can be a writer.

When I first started writing as an adult, I was heavily influenced by the early Fay Weldons of the 1970s and 1980s. I loved her sparky, irreverent style.

Now I am inspired by too many other writers to list. But I love Hilary Mantel, Maggie O’Farrell and Louise Doughty.

If you could choose any book from any place or time which one would you most liked to have written?

Most definitely: Wolf Hall and the sequel Bring Up the Bodies. They’re absolute masterpieces and I am in awe of the writing.

What led you to write your first book?

I had lots of ideas, but one of the strongest was the one that became In Too Deep. I was working for the BBC in Alnwick and at the time the town had a regular summer fair with a medieval-style ducking stool. I wanted to explore the idea that this ducking stool (which felt like a very strange thing to have in the twenty-first century) would be put to a dark use. I knew it was a good premise, so I stuck with it even though it took me ages to finish, because I was working full-time for the BBC, studying part-time and bringing up two young children.

Keyboard. I don’t have the time to clart about with the old technology! I do have a notebook, of course, where I jot ideas down in pen, but the actual writing goes directly into a computer, for ease of editing. My handwriting is getting steadily worse, anyway.

Do you have a routine you follow when writing?

No rituals or anything like that. But I like a bit of quiet and I do best if I am in a room on my own. I don’t start writing unless I have at least an hour – but I may need to revise this and start grabbing fifteen minutes here and there, to be more productive. A clear hour is a luxury these days!

Was there a break-through moment for you, or a key person who helped you?

Yes – I did a Creative Writing PhD at Newcastle University and it was the first time I convinced myself that my writing was worth sharing. Before that I lacked the confidence to show it to anyone. I put my debut novel into a competition called the Luke Bitmead Bursary and it was a runner-up, which led directly to a contract with Legend Press.

What piece of advice could you give a new writer trying to get published?

Don’t rush to get published. Work on your writing until it’s something you can be proud of and have real confidence in before you start putting it out to agents or publishers or before you bung it onto Amazon. Anyone can self-publish and the market is crowded – so make sure your work is something worth reading before you put it out there. Try entering competitions, as you will get independent feedback and an indication of whether your writing is on the right track – and success will get your work noticed.


You can find out more about this fantastic author here:

Web: www.beadavenport.com
Twitter: @beadavenport1
Facebook: beadavenportwriter

Bea's latest book 'The Misper' is published by The Conrad Press and is available now.

 

 


Daily Mirror story on Tony Hutchinson

Tony was featured in the national newspaper The Mirror as part of the 'Be My Girl' launch.

Read the article as a PDF here.


Newcastle Evening Chronicle Press Coverage for Tony Hutchinson

Press coverage for the launch of ‘Be My Girl’ by Tony Hutchinson in the Evening Chronicle.

Download as a PDF here.

Read the article on the Chronicle website.


Press coverage from The Journal for Tony Hutchinson

Press coverage for the launch of ‘Be My Girl’ by Tony Hutchinson in The Journal.


Hartlepool Mail 'Be My Girl' Coverage

Press coverage for the launch of ‘Be My Girl’ by Tony Hutchinson in the Hartlepool Mail.

Download as a PDF here.

Read the article on the Hartlepool Mail website.


"Canoe case cop has two novels coming out soon" Northern Echo

Press coverage for the launch of 'Be My Girl' by Tony Hutchinson in the Northern Echo.

Download as a PDF here.

Check out the article on the Northern Echo website.


Liz Fenwick Nine Lives Interview

Welcome to our latest Nine Lives Interview featuring author Liz Fenwick answering nine questions about her and her writing life.


Do you remember the first book you read?

I think it might have been Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell. It has certainly stayed with me!

Where is your ideal place to read, and do you have a favourite time of day for reading?

I love reading in the bath especially when it’s late afternoon and the sun streams into the room. Second favourite location is the couch with a fire roaring!

Which authors have inspired or influenced you?

This is a tricky question as there are many. I have been inspired by many people over the years, but when I was seeking publication I received encouragement from the late Penny Jordan who had a long and prolific career. But she never rested on her laurels she kept striving to be a better writer and wrote different in different genres under different names. She was an inspiration. I think the writers who have influenced me most are Maeve Binchy and Mary Wesley.

If you could choose any book from any place or time which one would you most liked to have written?

Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life

What led you to write your first book?

Which first book? I’ve been writing since I was a child and that stemmed from wanting stories to continue and led to telling stories of my own. The first book is long gone as were many others attempts, but I still have the typed script of 275 pages of my novel 'An Irish Woman' that I wrote as my senior thesis in uni.

Pen, pencil, typewriter or computer keyboard?

Notes and ideas in pen and pencil in Moleskin note books preferably squared ones. First drafts on the computer…tricky scenes in fountain pen in a notebook.

Do you have a routine you follow when writing?

I wish. As I been writing for publication again when my children were small I learned to work around other things. I still function that way even though I am now writing full time. I am very flexible until it comes close to deadline when nothing else is done. If pressed I would say I aim for 500 words a day as I begin the first draft increasing the count until its 2000 to 2500 as I race to the end.

Was there a break-through moment for you, or a key person who helped you?

I was all set to give up writing for publication when I went off to the first York Festival of Writing. By the end of that conference, I knew I was writer and I’d reclaimed a part of myself that I had been leaving out of my writing because I thought my literary side didn’t fit with my commercial side. Once I reconciled that I rewrote The Cornish House and found my agent who then found me a publisher.

What piece of advice could you give a new writer trying to get published?

Don’t rush. Look on the time prepublication as your apprenticeship. Learn as much as you can about the business while you write the first book then put it in a drawer and begin the next one then take the first one out and edit/rewrite….repeat!


You can find out more about this fabulous author here:

Web: www.lizfenwick.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liz.fenwick.author?fref=ts
Twitter: @liz_fenwick

Liz's latest book 'One Cornish Summer' is published by Orion and is available now.

 

 


Ebooks: How digital publishers are 'shaking up' the industry

A hugely encouraging article from the BBC (not something that comes as a big surprise to us, of course!).

More royalties? Check!

More freedom? Check!

Same fantastic quality (or better?) Double check!

We live in a truly digital era, yet the digital publishing industry is still largely misunderstood.

Digital publishers are often young, dynamic companies striving to find creative ways to win influence in the online retail market of fiction and non-fiction.

They also compete with traditional print publishers to discover the next big idea.

Head over to the BBC website to read the whole article, it's well worth it.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-45088172


Mari Hannah Nine Lives Interview

Welcome to our latest Nine Lives Interview featuring award-winning thriller author Mari Hannah answering nine questions about her and her writing life.


Do you remember the first book you read?

No, but the one that sticks in my mind is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It was a coming-of-age classic, a tale about the March sisters growing up: Meg, Beth, Jo and Amy. This may have been a book I was given at school. I liked Jo best. Like me, she was a scribbler, rebellious, the strong one – a complete contrast to her sisters, a bit of a tomboy who is described as, quote “A young woman who struggles to escape the Victorian prison of her gender” unquote.I certainly identified with her character. Maybe, subconsciously, I dreamed of becoming a writer too.

Where is your ideal place to read, and do you have a favourite time of day for reading?

I read as often as I can, wherever I happen to be: sunbed, garden bench, train, car, plane – love audiobooks! – but my favourite place of all is in my conservatory in front of a wood-burning stove in winter or with the doors wide open in summer with a paperback in my hand. Unless I’m on the move, mostly I read in the evening, hard copy never digital. I can’t face a screen after a day of computer work.

Which authors have inspired or influenced you?

There are many, but Michael Connelly’s Black Echo introduced me to crime fiction. When I read it, I thought wow, this guy really knows his stuff. I love Harry Bosch and have just fallen for Connelly’s female character LAPD detective, Renée Ballard in The Late Show. She’s superbly drawn and, as with all his books, there’s a strong sense of place. Connelly makes writing look really easy when it’s anything but. He’s published by Orion who now publish me and some of my favourite crime writers. I’m very excited by the prospect of being published to a wider, International readership with another Northumberland based crime series featuring a new detective duo: Stone and Oliver. The first in that series The Lost was published in the spring. Book two The Insider will follow on Nov 1, 2018.

If you could choose any book from any place or time which one would you most liked to have written?

Patricia Cornwell’s Postmortem is right up there. It was a ground breaking novel introducing us to Chief Medical Examiner Dr Kay Scarpetta, a book that launched a hugely successful career. I loved her early work and hadn’t read anything that concentrated as it did on forensic science. The characterisation was a strength and, as the series progressed, I felt as if I knew them all personally as well as Richmond (Virginia) where the books are set. No wonder her debut won the Edgar. But let’s switch focus for a moment . . .

My family weren’t booky people. As a kid I can’t remember being encouraged to read, though my mother would probably dispute that. We had few books in the house. I’m ashamed to say that I hated English at school and struggled with grammar. Consequently, I took very little notice in class. Fast forward to motherhood. It was such a joy to see the faces of my children as they were being read to. If I wasn’t writing crime, I’d be writing for kids. They’re like sponges. They soak up everything. So, I’d also say that I’d have been proud to put my name to anything at all by Julia Donaldson who has singlehandedly inspired a whole generation of children to explore the world through books. Stick Man is my favourite. It made me cry, but don’t tell anyone – it would seriously damage my reputation!

What led you to write your first book?

An assault on duty cut short my career as a probation officer. Two lots of surgery to a serious arm injury and heaps of physiotherapy later, I had no job and began writing to pass the time and to keep the little grey cells ticking over. Long story short, I got the bug. I tried screenwriting first with an eye to writing for the TV, ending up on a BBC drama development scheme called North East Voices that was run in conjunction with Northern Film & Media. That scheme taught me so much about structure and pace, the ten-page rule. I was told that if you hadn’t hooked your reader by then, your script would hit the bin. When my crime pilot wasn’t commissioned, I adapted my script into a novel, The Murder Wall.

Pen, pencil, typewriter or computer keyboard?

Keyboard and sometimes voice recognition; with technological advances, VR is so good these days. I’m not able to write in longhand for long periods of time due to the injury referred to above. I wish I could because I think differently with a pen in my hand. I find it easier to express myself and retain more if I write down notes, rather than type them straight into my laptop or desktop.

Do you have a routine you follow when writing?

In the early days, perhaps. Not now. I used to write only in the morning when I was fresh and always at my desk. Rarely did anything I’d written after lunch make sense. However, I’m in a very different place now. Writers are in three stages most of the time: writing a book, editing the previous one or planning the next. When you factor in festivals, appearances, radio and TV interviews, articles, emails, social media and travelling – always on the go! – you have to discipline yourself to be able to write anywhere, anytime, even if you can only grab an hour or two. I’ll give you an example of my week so far. As reader-in-residence for Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, I’m just back from a gruelling tour of libraries with the festival’s outreach programme, the Big Read: twelve events, five days, four hundred and fifty miles, one author – me! It’s a job I’m proud to do, but I have a deadline and, when I finish this Q&A, I must concentrate on meeting it. This may not be a typical week, but not far from it. I’ve not seen my family for a week. This is the reality for a lot of authors. Oh, and there is one place I never write and that’s in bed. No crime writer should ever be that comfortable.

Was there a break-through moment for you, or a key person who helped you?

Meeting my agent at an event organised by New Writing North is the answer to the first part of your first question. As far as a key person goes, I’m very lucky in that my partner is a former murder detective. She’s my first reader before a book goes to my agent and editor – checking the authenticity of the police procedural elements. As a former statement reader in a busy Murder Investigation Team, she has a good eye for spotting inconsistencies in witness statements and that type of thing. If I don’t get it right, believe me, she doesn’t hold back. When I began writing, Mo was still a serving police officer. Now she has more time, she gets involved as early as the planning stage. We brainstorm ideas. She accompanies me on research visits and is great at sniffing out a good crime scene. She does everything from editing to proofreading the finished books. She often appears alongside me in joint ‘fact v fiction’ type events which have gone down very well with readers. If you haven’t already guessed, her experience in the police was the inspiration behind the Kate Daniels series which is in development with Stephen Fry’s production company.

What piece of advice could you give a new writer trying to get published?

Research the industry you’re joining. Agents and editors you’re submitting to will expect you to have a working knowledge of publishing. Don’t, whatever you do, expect a published author to do it for you. It won’t buy you any friends. I wish I had a quid for every time a debut author has written to me asking for a quote. Can I read their book by next Wednesday? Can I recommend them to my agent – even though I haven’t read their book? Can I help with their submission letter? Can I give advice on how to write a synopsis that will sell? And these emails always begin, ‘I know how busy you are but . . .’ Sorry to be blunt, but you wrote the book, now do your homework, then be patient and grow a thick skin. I don't wish to discourage anyone from writing, but it took me years to find a publisher. I have a pile of rejection letters to prove it. So, if an agent or publisher passes on your manuscript, chin up and move on to the next on your list. Every rejection represents just one person's opinion. If you believe in your material, stick with it. Don’t give up, persevere. You will find an agent who loves your stuff eventually and he/she will help you progress to the next level. Good luck.


You can find out more about this brilliant author here:

Web: www.marihannah.com
Twitter: @mariwriter

Mari's latest book 'The Lost' is published by Orion and is available now.

 

 


Alan Carter Nine Lives Interview

Welcome to our latest Nine Lives Interview featuring crime author Alan Carter answering nine questions about himself and his writing life.


Alan Carter at Newcastle NoirDo you remember the first book you read?

It was probably a Janet & John at Fulwell Infants but I do recall ploughing through all the Famous Fives which a neighbour had bequeathed to us - so crime fiction has been on my agenda from an early age.

Where is your ideal place to read, and do you have a favourite time of day for reading?

A comfy chair, bed, anytime anywhere really.

Which authors have inspired or influenced you?

Ian Rankin probably lit (or at least rekindled) the spark. I also admire James Lee Burke, Graham Hurley’s Portsmouth series, and Henning Mankell.

If you could choose any book from any place or time which one would you most liked to have written?

I loved “I, Claudius” and “Claudius, The God” by Robert Graves - particularly the latter with its epic opening sentence. The voice is pitch perfect.

What led you to write your first book?

My wife made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. We had moved to Hopetoun (on WA south coast - setting for Prime Cut) so she could take up a teaching job. Meanwhile I was still making TV docos in the big city - not conducive to establishing family life in a new town. In return for me being a kept man, doing the housework etc for a year I could take time out to write a book while Kath brought home the bacon. No brainer. And the housework only ever took about 20 minutes so I had plenty of time to write. :)

Pen, pencil, typewriter or commuter keyboard?

Computer keyboard.

Do you have a routine you follow when writing?

I try to do 8 hours a day 5 days a week and aim for around 2000 words a day. I read a lot too, re-reading say the Graham Hurley series for its police procedural detail and a bit of James Lee Burke for the lyricism.

Was there a break-through moment for you, or a key person who helped you?

I never really expected to get published when I started out - the stats are daunting. But I got shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger for the first 5000 unpublished words of what would be Prime Cut. That helped open publishers doors. It then went on to win a Ned Kelly for first fiction. It all helps.

What piece of advice could you give a new writer trying to get published?

Write a lot and read a lot. Practice makes perfect and dissecting what is happening on the page in books that you like is important.


You can find out more about this wonderful author here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlanCarterAuthor/
Twitter: @carter_alan28

His next book 'Heaven Sent' is due out in November 2018 and you can check out his thriller 'Marlborough Man' now.