What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
I don’t write in a single genre. Years before I started writing novels I wrote short fiction, anything from romance to horror, whatever genre the targeted market was publishing. It was a great apprenticeship as I learned a lot about using tone and register, as well as all the other tools of the author’s trade.
When I moved to novels I dipped about in the same manner. ‘Beneath The Shining Mountains’ is a Native American historical with no Europeans in its cast list. The ‘Torc of Moonlight’ paranormal trilogy is contemporary, each with a different historical thread. Who wants to write the same thing all the time?
Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
I need to focus on one creative project at a time, though that doesn’t mean that I’m not writing one, promoting the last, and researching the next. Writers have to juggle a bit, even when focused.
Do you work with a writing/critique group?
I’m a member of Hornsea Writers which meets weekly to group critique work-in-progress. We are nearly all professional writers and so there’s an incisiveness brought to bear that can be both daunting and highly useful.
Can you remember your first reading book?
No, but I can recall the first book read to me, even if I have no idea of the title. It was of a group of boys having adventures in a school environment. It was a bedtime treat for me and my siblings and I can still recall our emotional reactions, and it was those that stick in my mind more than the story. It was the seed that made me want to write fiction.
Do you nibble on snacks while writing? If so, what is your chosen treat?
Oh gosh, confessions. Dark chocolate digestives. It’s never something super healthy like carrot & celery sticks, is it? Maybe I need the sugar hit. Or maybe I’m just addicted.
OOh, yum! Dark chocolate!
Tidy desk or a bombsite? Describe your writing area with us.
Bombsite. And that’s the entire room, not just the desk. I work on a laptop with a printer to my right and a map laid across a good two inches of research papers to my left. Further left is another workspace adorned in similar fashion. On the wall behind me are shelves of research books, and on the floor… You get the idea. There’s always a clear up between novels; you’ve just caught me at the end of one so the office is due a major tidy.
The short fiction and articles were published in journals and magazines, mostly in the UK, but some in Europe and the USA. Three novels have been traditionally published, and the first of the ‘Torc of Moonlight’ trilogy was taken by a small press as a standalone. By the time I had my rights reverted the digital explosion was just starting in the UK. Having followed its flight in the USA I decided to dip my toes. Best thing I ever did, as the original novels have had a new lease of life. Having taught creative writing, and been a reader for a London literary consultancy, I brought out a writers’ resource, ‘Reading A Writer’s Mind: Exploring Short Fiction – First Thought to Finished Story’ which covers all the things I wished someone had pointed out to me when I was first starting.
Who would you say have been the three most influential authors in your reading/writing life?
Alistair MacLean – drowning in the Classics in my early teens at school, his novels relit the excitement I recalled from earlier bedtime reading, and his novels led me on to writers like John Trenhaile, Desmond Bagley, Len Deighton, John Le Carré and Helen McInnes. No wonder my novels always have a thriller element.
Rosemary Sutcliff – for instilling a love of readable history.
Stephen King – for showing that atmosphere and good pacing out-strips gore and the superhero every time.
What advice would you like to share with other writers/authors with regard to preparing a manuscript?
Take your time and do it right. There is masses of help on the internet, so make use of it and learn to use the language and its punctuation. Accept that what comes boiling from your mind onto the page is a first draft that will need a lot of work, not just a slight tweak.
If the movie rights to your novels are purchased, who would you like to play your main characters?
Oh no. In that direction waits only madness and regret. I’d sign the contract, take the money and leave them to it. If it turns out to be brilliant, then it’s from my brilliant book. If it doesn’t, I’d just keep my head down. My name will be lost among the plethora of credits anyway. If I was credited at all.
Ha ha, wise woman!
I was on my way to the supermarket, when… Do you have a tale to tell relating to an everyday, boring event?
I was walking along a bridlepath with two friends when we came upon “the man with the gun”. He was a gamekeeper and had a shotgun broken over his forearm, but he couldn’t have exuded more menace if he’d been a tattooed gangster toting an Uzi. He thought we were up to no good and took some talking round. I never said a word, but drank in aspects of the entire scenario for future (literary) use. Wonderful research!
Lol, notes and more notes! Great story, thanks for sharing.
Linda Acaster has always had a love of history. She has been a member of a Native American living history group, and spent many a UK holiday dragging the family round Iron Age hillforts, Roman museums, Viking festivals, and Mediaeval architecture. There is always something to see and learn. It was while on a guided walk around York that the idea emerged for the second in the paranormal trilogy, ‘The Bull At The Gate’, due for imminent release.
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