I bet nobody expected me to be back with another blog post quite so soon, going on my previous form! But I’ve decided to do a monthly post, focussing on my fellow Accent Press authors. And as today is a publication day for one of them, it seemed like a good day to start.
Hello, Charlie, and Happy Publication Day! Your Sci-Fi comedy, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead has just been released. It looks like a lot of fun. What was the inspiration behind the storyline?
Actually, it’s absolutely not sci-fi! The inspiration, pure and simple, was The Wizard of Oz. It’s about growing up, the decisions that we make, and how we can sometimes get a second chance. In my book, the protagonist’s imagined Heaven, like Dorothy’s Emerald City, is simply a construct that allows her to look back at her life.
I’m looking forward to reading it – even more, since you’ve said it’s not sci-fi! Now, both The Things We Learn When We’re Dead and your début novel, The Herbal Detective have a female protagonist. Why did you (make the brave decision! to) make your main characters women?
That’s a very interesting question! My first book, although a comedy, is centred on a rather eccentric but gifted herbalist who someone thinks must be a witch. As the majority of people convicted of witchcraft were historically women, creating a female central character was a logical choice. In The Things We Learn, I wanted to create a conflicted character: someone financially ambitious but with an overbearing social conscience. The book is really how she puts those strands of her character together and that, I thought, better suited a female protagonist. (Oh, and she also gets pregnant, which might be another reason).
Where do you write? And do you prefer to work in silence or are you happy to work with background noise?
I have a home office and I suppose I do like working in silence. Irritatingly, my very best writing takes place when I’m in bed and half asleep. I can think through fantastic dialogue and narrative, which I never remember the next morning.
Oh, I hear you – I sometimes think I should keep a dictaphone on my bedside table! When you’re not writing, Charlie, what do you like to read, and where is your favourite place for reading?
I only really read what might be classed as literary fiction, and never sci-fi! Mostly in bed, but ideally beside a swimming pool under a cloudless blue sky. Mostly therefore in bed.
Physical book or e-reader? And why?
Physical book. As a writer, I like to flip backwards and forwards through a book, to see how the author has structured a particular section or chapter. It’s about constantly learning. You can’t do that easily with an e-book. Also, real books don’t have batteries that run out.
Very true. Like many authors, you’ve had the benefit of other careers before writing your novels. Can you tell us a little about them, and will you be dipping into your treasure trove of experiences when writing your novels?
I’m not sure if experience adds dimensions to writing, although I’m sure it does for some people. Basically, I started off in newspaper journalism, worked for the Security Service, and have ended up in marketing consultancy. My career has therefore been about making things public, keeping things secret, and now making them public again. That said, my third book does feature a journalist, and I am (sort of) working on a spy book.
How did you come to have your second book published by Accent Press? And what can we look forward to next?
As to the first part of your question, best ask those nice people at Accent Press! Simply, I sent the manuscript to them and they said yes. On the second bit of your question, it’s a book centred on a young woman (again!) who has a famous actor father and a grandfather who is an obscure particle physicist. Written like that, it sounds as dull as ditch-water, but I hope it has lots of humour, heart and soul.
Sounds intriguing! So, if you were locked in a well-stocked library overnight, what book would you choose to help you pass the time?
I love books and love discovering new authors, so I would probably prowl the library until I found something unexpected to read – and then, hopefully, a bed to read it in.
And finally, Charlie, is there anything you’d like to tell readers about yourself which might surprise them?
I hate eggs, liver and seagulls. Noel Edmonds once threatened me with legal action. I like happy endings.
So I’m guessing a picnic lunch with egg sandwiches and liver pate at the end of a pier full of fishermen would be a definite no no! Thanks for chatting with me, Charlie, and good luck with The Things We Learn When We’re Dead. Now, if I’ve done this correctly, there should (fingers crossed!) be a link to The Things We Learn blurb here and another to Amazon here.
And next month’s post will be an Accent On … Well, you’ll just have to wait and see who it is …