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    • Hayley

      Something Wicked This Way Comes...   10/09/2019

      The Autumn Supporter Giveaway!       Welcome to the very first of the seasonal BCF supporter giveaways! This month also marks one year since I took on the forum, so I want to say an extra huge thank you to all of you for keeping this place going. I have a little bit more to say about that later but, for now, let's get to the giveaway!     The Autumn Giveaway winner will be getting two Penguin Little Black Classics, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and To Be Read At Dusk by Charles Dickens. Both of these little books contain three atmospheric short stories, perfect for autumnal evenings. The winner will also get Mary Shelley tea (a lavender and vanilla black tea) from Rosie Lea Tea's Literary Tea Collection (https://www.rosieleatea.co.uk/collections/literary-tea-collection) and a chocolate skull, to really get that spooky atmosphere .   and...   A special treat for a special month. The winner will choose one of the following recent paperback releases from the independent bookshop Big Green Bookshop:       The Wych Elm by Tana French A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan Melmoth by Sarah Perry The Familiars by Stacey Halls  The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White   The winner will be chosen via the usual random selection process in one week. Patreon supporters are entered automatically. If you aren't a patreon supporter but you'd like to join in with this giveaway, you can support here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.   I really hope you're all going to like this introduction to the seasonal giveaways. It's been a lot of fun to put together. Other chocolate skulls may have been harmed during the selection process…     
Michelle

Questions for authors

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I'll ask Cath Staincliffe since I just saw her post this morning on the other thread :

 

Have you ( or would you ) have any interest in writing a true crime book at some point ? I read a lot of them and wondered if you have ever thought about doing that ?

 

Welcome, by the way !

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Hello Julie, thanks for the welcome.  I've never thought of writing true crime and it's not something I read.  I find it too upsetting which may sound odd coming from someone who writes about murder and grief all the time!  I'm also very careful not to use real stories in my fiction - I prefer to make them up but also I don't want to intrude on someone's real life tragedy..   

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Hi I'd like to ask Cath Staincliffe: how do you research your books? Do you have a background in police work? Also did you script-write for Blue Murder? If so how did you get into screen-writing?

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Hi Andrea, it's true to say I hate research which is why my first series was about a private eye and I didn't have to know any procedure.  I've no experience of police work but picked quite a bit up from watching TV and have got to know contacts in the Crime Writers Association who are ex police and can answer my questions.  On Blue Murder we also had police consultants advising us - and the same for the Scott & Bailey books.  Yes - I did write the scripts for the pilot of Blue Murder and some of the episodes in the following seasons.  The show was based on an unpublished novel of mine and (thanks to a tip off from my writer friend Ann Cleeves) I knew the TV company were looking for drama ideas with strong female leads.  An initial meeting led to development and I was given the chance to try and write the scripts.  A very steep learning curve but an exhilarating experience!

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Thanks Cath that's really interesting! And useful to know that you can pick up on procedures from TV shows! Wow what a great break with the Blue Murder job! I really enjoyed that program. As a script writer do you get to meet and work with the cast?

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My questions are for any of our visiting authors.  

 

With the 'dark corners' that are often explored in novels, is there any aspect of writing that 'gets to you' ? If so, what do you do about it?

 

Thank you in advance, and I hope my question makes sense. :smile:

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Thanks Cath that's really interesting! And useful to know that you can pick up on procedures from TV shows! Wow what a great break with the Blue Murder job! I really enjoyed that program. As a script writer do you get to meet and work with the cast?

Yes, at least with the pilot.  Spent some time with the lead actors looking at the characters and their lives and their attitude to work and so on.  Great fun.  Didn't do that with later series, though I went to the read thrus and visited filming.

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My questions are for any of our visiting authors.  

 

With the 'dark corners' that are often explored in novels, is there any aspect of writing that 'gets to you' ? If so, what do you do about it?

 

Thank you in advance, and I hope my question makes sense. :smile:

 

Well, I write a lot about loss and grief and I do find myself 'upset' when I'm writing in the same way that I hope a reader would be moved when they are reading the book.  But soon as my writing day is done I am fine.  Some areas I avoid - I've only once written from the point of view of a serial killer as it's not a place I want to be for long.  (That was my short story Laptop which won a dagger so maybe I should reconsider that position!)

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This question is for any author who's willing to answer it. I'm always interested in the writing process of authors. Do you have a schedule of writing during the day or how does it work for you? Do you make a storyboard or do you use any other tools or computer programs?

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My questions are for any of our visiting authors.  

 

With the 'dark corners' that are often explored in novels, is there any aspect of writing that 'gets to you' ? If so, what do you do about it?

 

Thank you in advance, and I hope my question makes sense. :smile:

 

Hi Chrissy,

 

Those 'dark corners' definitely have an impact on me when I'm writing. I think it's vital that they do, too. If I can make myself emotional, then my readers (hopefully!) will be moved also. Some of the research can be very harrowing at times (I'd hate anyone to look in my internet history!). The book I have coming out in April concerns teen suicides, which was particularly upsetting to delve into now my kids are older. But my belief is that these tough and dark issues need exploring, and crime fiction is the perfect medium. We're faced with terrible stories on the news every day, and I think storytelling is a way to make sense of this.

 

So what do I do after an emotional stint at the computer? I'll go for a run with very loud music, perhaps. Or do some cooking, or sewing... anything to switch off really. But like Cath, I don't find it too hard to leave behind once I'm away from my desk.

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This question is for any author who's willing to answer it. I'm always interested in the writing process of authors. Do you have a schedule of writing during the day or how does it work for you? Do you make a storyboard or do you use any other tools or computer programs?

 

Hi Athena,

 

I definitely have a kind of schedule... like any job really. If I'm actually in 'writing a book mode' I'll be at my desk by 9am  and will write through until lunch. Depending on how well that goes, I'll either get on with other admin tasks etc for a couple of hours in the afternoon, or carry on with the words if they didn't flow earlier. I usually finish around 5pm and if I've written 2000 good (ish) words, I'll be very happy. There's lots of time for editing later. But if I have a pressing deadline, I'll certainly put in the extra hours to get the job done and go late into the evening. It's great working from home, although you do have to be disciplined, and it's amazing how the 'non writing' work piles up too. I always seem to be very busy and complaining there aren't enough hours in the day!

 

I now use Scrivener to keep all my chapters in order as it's so easy to flip and switch the 'index cards' around (my son bought it for me as a present). I have loads of character information and research notes and links all within this program, though I actually write in Word still. (You can write and compile in Scrivener too). It's great for keeping everything in order and easily accessible. I also have quite a few notebooks with bits and pieces jotted down, as well as other files on my ipad and phone. I try to be organised about it!

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Hi Athena,

 

I definitely have a kind of schedule... like any job really. If I'm actually in 'writing a book mode' I'll be at my desk by 9am  and will write through until lunch. Depending on how well that goes, I'll either get on with other admin tasks etc for a couple of hours in the afternoon, or carry on with the words if they didn't flow earlier. I usually finish around 5pm and if I've written 2000 good (ish) words, I'll be very happy. There's lots of time for editing later. But if I have a pressing deadline, I'll certainly put in the extra hours to get the job done and go late into the evening. It's great working from home, although you do have to be disciplined, and it's amazing how the 'non writing' work piles up too. I always seem to be very busy and complaining there aren't enough hours in the day!

 

I now use Scrivener to keep all my chapters in order as it's so easy to flip and switch the 'index cards' around (my son bought it for me as a present). I have loads of character information and research notes and links all within this program, though I actually write in Word still. (You can write and compile in Scrivener too). It's great for keeping everything in order and easily accessible. I also have quite a few notebooks with bits and pieces jotted down, as well as other files on my ipad and phone. I try to be organised about it!

Like Sam I treat writing as my job so it's what I do everyday with bits of time for admin, emails, twitter and the like.  I've not used any software though have heard authors rave about scrivener and it sounds good, I'm a bit reluctant to try it as I don't know how long it would take to get used to it. Post it notes and writing first drafts longhand works well for me so far.  I do diagrams and a calendar and lists of dates etc - all of which I believe can be there at a keystroke with scrivener.  One thing I have used is voice recognition software when I have loads of typing to do.  It's slightly quicker for me than touch typing but I wish it was even more accurate.

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Hi Chrissy. My novels contain the after effects of violence and whilst I don't shy away from it, nor do I want to put scenes of violence and torture on the page. That is a qualm drawn not just from my scruples but from my belief that what lies unsaid is best filled in by the imagination of the reader and the mind is the scariest weapon at my disposal. For that reason, any gore in my novels is almost always post mortem and the subject of my Detective Inspector's crime scene analysis.

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Hi Athena. I think you will find most crime writers are on a shorter deadline than literary writers. The demand for "product" is relentless so if you want to maintain high quality it is important to treat the writing as a job which it is. For a professional writer that's exactly what it is. And like all jobs, you don't enjoy every minute of every day or even necessarily sit down to write with a feeling of anticipation. It is hard, mentally-draining work and, with a year to write a new novel, I would fail utterly unless I set daily targets. I am particularly lazy and only aim for 1000 words a day, knowing that sometimes I'll be over and sometimes under. I try to keep office hours (which means no weekends until the heat is really on) but writing is such a sedentary occupation that I'll often go for a walk or a swim in the afternoon. However, to do so, I must reach my target, as once I break off that tends to be it for the day.

 

It's the classic dilemma for the self-employed. Although you are master of your own time, you have to supply the self-discipline to keep up with the work.

Edited by SteveDunne

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Thanks for all your answers :)! It's very interesting to read how it works for you all on a daily basis.

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I love a good story whatever the genre but I also like to keep up with new writing in crime fiction where my home is.  My estimate is that about two thirds of the books I read are crime and the other third are mainly general fiction and literary fiction.  Every so often I list books I've enjoyed on my blog as recommendations.  Someday I'll have to tot up whether my estimate of the genre split is right. 

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'It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.' George Orwell, 1984

Also 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...' Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

 

First and last lines are so important!

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I'd like to ask our authors what they choose to read - do you stick with your own genre, or choose something different?

 

I mainly stick to crime and thrillers, Michelle. Mainly, but not always - probably an 80/20 split. It's partly a time thing as I like to keep up with what's out there in my genre, and also because that's what I love reading. Sometimes I feel frustrated that there aren't enough hours in the day for everything. Plus I'm a painfully slow reader. I wonder if that comes from the editing process!

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