Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Creme de la Crime - Ebooks & Interviews

The well-regarded specialist press, Creme de la Crime has teamed up with Creative Content Ltd to have their titles made available as ebooks. The first four titles were released under the eCC imprint on 30 April:
Working Girls by Maureen Carter
The Crimson Cavalier by Mary Andrea Clarke
Dead Woman’s Shoes by Kaye C Hill
Broken Harmony by Roz Southey
You can read about each title at the Creative Content Ltd website and the e-books can be bought at the usual places.

To celebrate the launch, the four authors were interviewed and Euro Crime has been granted permission to run the interview on this blog:

Kaye C Hill - Dead Woman’s Shoes

Kaye’s sparky sleuth Lexy Lomax lives on the Suffolk coast where, when not writing, Kaye herself, spends as much time as possible - it’s a place that she finds incredibly mysterious and atmospheric making it a perfect setting for Dead Woman’s Shoes.
Kaye is currently working on her third novel in the series which will be out early in 2011.

Maureen Carter -Working Girls

Maureen has worked extensively in newspapers, radio and television and still freelances in the business… As a journalist she worked closely with the police, covering countless crime stories, interviewing many victims and has reported on several murders…
Originally from Staffordshire, Maureen lives and writes in the West Midlands.

Roz Southey - Broken Harmony

Roz Southey has a passion for the often contentious world of 18th century music-making in the north east of England; in fact, she has a PhD in it!
Roz lives in the north east herself and lectures at the International Centre for Music Studies in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Mary Andrea Clarke - The Crimson Cavalier

By day, Mary Andrea Clarke is a responsible civil servant - but by night, she is a mystery woman! Her love of crime fiction led her to join the vibrant group of readers and writers who organise many events and meetings all over the UK.
She lives in Surrey and has completed her next novel which is due for publication in August 2010.

1. If you could choose any actress to play the lead role on TV or reading an audio version of your titles, who would you choose?

Kaye C Hill

This is a tough one! I think someone who was a tomboy - not glamorous - perhaps Sharon Small who plays DS Barbara Havers in the Inspector Lindley Mysteries ? - as for an audio book reader I would choose someone with a laconic, humorous voice like Jennifer Saunders or Jo Brand.

Maureen Carter

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the actress Liz White playing WPC Annie Cartwright in Life on Mars - I’d never seen her before, but apart from her eye colour, she was Bev Morriss made flesh - she is SO close to how I see Bev in my mind…
As for who’d read an audio book, that’s trickier - voices are incredibly important - the voice says so much about you from the moment you open your mouth - one thing I don’t hear though is a Birmingham accent !
If I had the chance I would LOVE to narrate the book myself!

Roz Southey

Charles Patterson is a real person to me emotionally and I’m quite scared about giving him someone else’s face, because then he will become unreal and merely a character in a book…he is himself and no-one else…
I also think the reader should imagine the character for him/herself - I don’t spend too much time on physical description beyond the basics - the personalities and their interactions are the most important thing…
As far as his voice is concerned I hear him with a Northern English voice with perhaps a hint of Geordie or the North East - definitely educated but very definitely from Newcastle…as far as specific voice, I feel that any decent actor ought to be able to do that sort of voice or accent anyway, but nobody specific comes to mind…

Mary Andrea Clarke

Catherine Zeta Jones! She has a lively and spirited presence which would bring Georgiana Grey to life on-screen.
Anne Cater did an excellent job of reading The Crimson Cavalier and I think my fellow crime writer Linda Regan would also be a good choice - if I had the chance, I would LOVE to narrate the audio myself as I think it would be a really exciting experience…

2. How do you structure the layout and plot lines of your books? Do you have a clear plot line or do things twist, turn and develop as you go along?

Kaye C Hill

I start off with a vague plan…then fill in detail as I go along. Characters appear and do and say things which can surprise me as much as the reader! I usually know who the murderer is but have been known to change him or her when I’m three-quarters through writing the book! I keep a notepad for ideas and often sit in the garden or a nice outdoor place and scribble away ideas and then transfer those ideas to my computer…those ideas can be fleshed out more easily on paper rather than if I used a voice recorder…I also tend to write and check/improve as I go along rather than write a full draft and then return to the start and then re-read and make changes - I think you need to be reminded of what you’ve written as you’re writing…I tend to write more in the mornings and aim to do around a thousand words per day…

Maureen Carter

I generally write a two or three page outline around a central plot and usually, a sub-plot…this also includes major developments in the core characters’ lives both professionally and personally - so I start with clear ideas about the book’s opening, close and several key scenes along the way…but I’m free to go where the fancy takes me!
I always have a notepad with me and by on the bed-side table so that I can make notes and maybe even odd the bit of dialogue…you can get some great ideas in the early hours and if you don’t write them down, you can so easily forget them…
I tend to write in “office hours” and tend not to wait around for inspiration to strike, I like to get on with it, setting myself a minimum number of words per day to keep me on track and I don’t believe in such a thing as “writers block”…

Roz Southey

I start writing with a clear idea of roughly what’s going to happen…but I have thought about the basic idea for some months beforehand and at some point I start seeing scenes in my mind: the opening scene, a couple if climactic scenes in the middle - usually the last scene too - when those characters in those scenes start talking to me, I know it‘s time to start writing…the first draft is always in long hand and then I transfer it to my computer for editing and tidying…I always build the books around a true event, person or trend from the 18th century…
I liken this first draft to the sort of research I do as an academic: I’m not making any of it up, I’m finding out what happened…my subconscious mind is free to offer me all sorts of characters and plot twists that my conscious mind just wouldn’t come up with…
Then I have to plan the novel in detail from the first draft, cutting or enlarging and making sure the plot hangs together an makes sense - this becomes the second draft, then finally when I’m convinced the structure is right I move on to tidying the language etc…
I like to start my writing day around 7:45am and I’ll do an hour or so, then have a walk and then another couple of hours - this is the really serious stuff and I’m at my best in the morning…and then I ease back a little over lunchtime and then get back into it mid-afternoon until around 5pm…and I LOVE Mondays as I always feel fresh, but it’s important to write regularly and treat it in a business-like way…
I tend not to set myself a daily word limit…

Mary Andrea Clarke

I have a general outline for the entire book, but plot each chapter as I go along using a mind map - this helps with tangents and off-shoots…The initial draft for my first book was written in long-hand but now I write direct to my laptop - I spend an hour each day on my commute to work so try to write as much as I can then, but otherwise it’s back on the computer after I’ve had something to eat and working into the night…Weekends are better as I can have a whole day but as far as structure and plot is concerned I either have a notebook or my laptop with me so that I can keep note of ideas and plotlines…

3. Your book is publishing in ePUB/eBook format with Creative Content at the end of April. Do you have any specific views on the digital marketplace as an out let for your titles and what do you think of the new devices like the Kindle?

Kaye C Hill

I think it’s important to move with the times…Much as I love the look and feel of traditional books, I also admire the sleek electronic versions! And also that you can store so many titles on them…I don’t have one at the moment, but we do intend to get one - you can’t fight it and especially the younger generation who are at ease with the technology will embrace it…

Maureen Carter

I’m really excited about the ePub of Working Girls. I want people to read my books and anything which helps readers access my work is - in my book - a good thing…
As for the new devices - yes please! I definitely want a Kindle because it also allows audio downloads and I think this is so important especially perhaps to the older reader who may be averse to an eReader as such, but would be swayed by the audio options - it’s a great thing for them…we would be silly not to embrace the eBook as the sales increases, particularly in the USA are quite extraordinary…

Roz Southey

I do have a reputation for being a little behind with technology..! I love the smell of a new book in my hands, but I do feel however, that anything which encourages people to read is itself to be encouraged enormously and eReaders can be incredibly useful for packing large numbers of books into a small space for travel etc…I may be a little late, but the idea of eBooks is beginning to excite me! It’s interesting also that I teach 18 and 19 year olds that have barely bought a CD in their lives, all of their music comes from downloads, so with this aspect and audio downloading being a feature on some eReaders, it makes for exciting times…and attitudes certainly are changing…

Mary Andrea Clarke

It’s very exciting to see reading moving into the digital world. It’s a helpful option for the reader to have another medium to enjoy books, and which can offer a wide range of titles in an easily mobile format. The Kindle and the iPad can bring a lot more books - even audio downloads to the reader which is a great addition. A great way to take a lot of books on holiday without exceeding the baggage limit!

4. Did you set out to create a series based character or was that accidental?

Kaye C Hill

It was always my intention to make Lexy Lomax the main character in a series of whodunits - the first book provides the background and contains certain strands if intrigue that I unravel from one book to the next…I realised that all the elements of Lexy’s character couldn’t be resolved in the first book so set out to set up certain things that the reader can recognise as they start to read the next book…some aspects can also just run and run from book to book but there are always the connections and sub-plots which are important… I am a big fan of “series” based writing a great example is Sue Grafton who has created a character in her books with an intriguing past and slowly revealed things book to book…I am also very impressed by Lindsey Davis’s writing - she has a PI character set in Imperial Rome…I also very much like Alexander McCall Smith and of course Agatha Christie…

Maureen Carter

It wasn’t my intention to create a series and certainly not a series based around Bev Morriss. She first appeared as a minor character in an unpublished novel I wrote years ago…There was something about her I liked, so when I embarked on writing Working Girls I brought her centre stage - to me Bev is like a breath of fresh - if feisty - air!

Roz Southey

Yes, for two reasons…One is mercenary: a writer’s books are more likely to remain in print if they are in a series - people finding later books always want to go back and read the first ones…and secondly (and chiefly), it allows the writer to develop the main character (or in my case four main characters) over a period of time, showing them growing and changing which makes them much more real…

Mary Andrea Clarke

The Crimson Cavalier was started as a standalone novel, but as the book progressed, ideas developed for other books featuring Georgiana.

5. How do you go about your research?

Maureen Carter

Having been in journalism for over twenty years, so researching and finding things out is second nature to me and if there’s a particular aspect of the plot that I need help with, I tend to phone someone I know who could put me in touch with someone in that specific area - that way you don’t just get the facts, you get some anecdotal stuff as well - I don’t do it ALL when I sit down to write a book, I tend to do some and then for a particular plot twist or something I do more - I tend to like to meet these people and take a portable recorder with me which helps build up a stronger contact…

Roz Southey

I was lucky in that almost all of my research was done before I started writing novels…I did a PhD on music-making in the North East of England during the 18th century - as part of that, I read my way through four centuries worth of newspapers form that period and took out all the references to music…there were also a lot of gossipy stories there, which I couldn’t use in my academic work and it’s these I’ve used as the basis for the novel…I absorbed the 18th century by osmosis so to speak, so the research was done painlessly..!
So many important events occurred during this period I’m always amazed when people say it’s not very interesting as “nothing much happened” this period has always interested me and I’ve learned so much more through doing my PhD…
One of my editor’s comments relating to Broken Harmony was that it seemed that all that people seemed to eat was ale and game pie and nothing else, so I had to separately research that aspect - what people would have eaten..!
The other thing in trying to view a period in the past is to set yourself IN that period and realize that the WAY people thought at that time is simply not the way we think now…and this can only come through reading things like 18th century newspapers and by doing that you start to think as they would have thought - on a daily basis…and having worked around this period for 5 years, I was just immersed in the whole period and the way people thought at the time…

Mary Andrea Clarke

I tended to do the bulk of my research about the period and particularly highwaymen before the first novel and tend to renew and refer back to that as I go along, but if it‘s something I just don‘t know or am not familiar with I would always do the main research before starting to write…and I am always reading - another way to pass the time during my daily commute!
I had read a lot about the Regency period in my youth and that has continued and that has helped a lot when it comes to research and background…

6. Is there any one person who inspired you to become a writer?

Kaye C Hill

I’m not sure whether they inspired me, to start writing but I have always liked the novels of Alexander McCall Smith and Lindsey Davis in particular, but I like to read many different authors.

Maureen Carter

I’ve read voraciously all my life and I always wanted to be a writer…I guess that’s one of the reasons I became a journalist…I can’t pinpoint a single person who inspired me to write fiction, but the opening line of Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell blew me away and I thought when I read it how could anyone not want to read on! Another writer that I am in awe of is John Le Carre - I think his prose is extraordinarily good and A Perfect Spy is a perfect book!
As far as being influenced by a writer, I know a number of writers who choose not to read another author when they are writing themselves - they don’t want to pick up someone else’s style…I totally disagree with that because if you have strong voices and a strong writing style, you aren’t going to be affected…also, if you’re not reading what’s out there, then you’re not really keeping abreast of things…so I say that if you’re a writer, you have to write all the time and you have to read all the time but always keep your own distinctive voice..!

Roz Southey

Well linking to the last question I quite enjoy 18th century writers though I haven’t read any for a while, but I like Ellis Peters who said she was interested in why nice people do nasty things… and that has certainly influenced me in that I am very interested in the relationship between the murderer and the victim…I also read a lot of American crime fiction in general, people like James Elroy and Elmore Leonard - I very much like that gritty style…

Mary Andrea Clarke

I tend to absorb what I can from lots of different writers…when I start to write I think a lot of what I’ve read returns from my subconscious mind, you almost don’t realise you’ve remembered it..!
I used to read a lot about the tudor period from Jean Plaidy and she was always very well researched and could really bring characters to life…she also used to write as Victoria Holt…

7. Is there any one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you?

Maureen Carter

Well I do share an absolute passion for Johnny Depp very much like Bev as he is her fantasy figure! I think he is one of the best actors and he has a wonderful voice and is truly captivating on-screen…

Roz Southey

Well, I’m very much into local history and particularly the valley where I was brought up - we lived in a house which dates back to around the 1520’s and on the window, various people from over the years had carved their names and dates and there were two I remember from 1804 and 1836 I think… so this to me was like history made real when you live there every day and with my very fluid feeling about time sometimes merging into one, past present and future and I think my upbringing was what sparked my interest in history - the house is still standing and I am actually writing about the history of that house…oh and I’m a very keen gardener !

Mary Andrea Clarke

I was in a fencing club when I was at University!

These last two questions were specific to Kaye and Mary

Kaye C Hill

Is a Private Investigator a career you ever saw for yourself and do you know any personally that inspire Lexy’s character?

Writing about a private eye is definitely a case of wish fulfillment…when I was a kid I really wanted to be a private detective and used to go around solving “crimes” in the street with my big tin foil badge saying “Kaye C Hill, Private Investigator” pinned to my raincoat ! I don’t know any private investigators personally but I was approached by one who had read the books and wanted to offer advice - but at a price - I didn’t take up the offer but I think the world of official private investigating is only a few steps away from the world of un-official private investigating which is really what Lexy does - she just keeps stumbling into situations - so there aren’t necessarily any “rules” to learn but it is always useful to pick up any tips whenever I can…

Mary Andrea Clarke

Were you at all inspired by the novels of Georgette Heyer in setting your novels in the Regency period and if so, which of her novels is a favourite?

Yes - her novels did contribute inspiration, but I wanted a different angle…a single woman working around the restrictions of the period to solve a crime…My favourite of her books is Sylvester where the heroine secretly writes a novel…
Many thanks to Creative Content for sharing the above interview.

1 comment:

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