An interview with romantic thriller novelist, SR Garrae

Welcome to my latest author interview in the series. This afternoon I am delighted to welcome the outstanding novelist, SR Garrae, author of the romantic thriller; Death in focus. It has been fascinating to discover her journey to publication and I look forward to hearing more from her in the future.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in a smallish village in Scotland, but spent all my working life based in London, with a year in Russia, dealing with international finance. I read for work, I read for a hobby: basically my life revolved around reading. Then one day I was diagnosed with an incurable, but manageable, eye condition, and I re-evaluated my life and started to write. I wrote fanfiction (and still do); then I was asked to write a screenplay for a major international sector conference, which was professionally filmed, and after that and a couple of bouts of eye surgery I retired to write original works full time.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
Now, I’m retired. I go to the gym, I still read a lot, I do cross-stitch and embroidery, jigsaw puzzles, travel, and deal with my small family. I have a lot of friends all over the world and I write to them, too. I have a garden, which has more weeds than flowers, so I’m trying to tidy it up a bit.

3. Do you have a day job as well?
Not now. I did have, when I began my book. It was pretty full on, but I retired in March 2018.

4. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing (fanfiction) about 5 or 6 years ago. I finished my first original book in January 2018.

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
It was a natural choice, as I’d been writing romantic crime fiction in fanfiction for a while. However, I wanted to use my own characters, not someone else’s. The case ideas in Death in Focus came from my own experience when doing a science degree – I didn’t personally see scientific fraud, but we all knew that it existed – and in finance, where I did see fraud and the significant temptation of lots of money. The first character who came to me was O’Leary, who simply dropped wholesale into my head on a business trip. The others took longer to develop. None of them are taken from real life, though Casey Clement has taken elements from every successful professional woman I’ve known, myself included.

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Yes. But when my original work is blocked, I go back to fanfiction, which generally clears my head.

7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
When I start, I only have a very broad outline – key plot points of character, relationships, and the case. Then I start to write the story, and as I go along I expand the outline so that it’s a summary of all the key points, colour coded for case, each relationship, and team. That way I can pick up plot holes and knit them back together by using the outline to find where they should have begun, and I can make sure that I don’t leave case issues hanging. The outline is as dynamic as the full manuscript.

8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
No. I’ve read pretty much every genre from slush romance to outright horror; classics to very modern. I reread many authors, and I’d say that you can’t be any sort of a decent author if you haven’t taken time to read widely as well.

9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (self-published or traditional)?
I tried to find an agent, and failed. Self-publishing with Amazon was surprisingly easy: the biggest challenge was formatting the cover for the paperback.

10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I would edit harder, and make sure that there was more dialogue.

11. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I mainly market through Twitter and Amazon advertising, and there’s a certain amount of word of mouth. I could do a lot more, but I’m taking it fairly slowly.

12. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
No, but that’s the benefit of self-publishing.

13. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
Death in Focus is a romantic police procedural set in Manhattan. Casey Clement, a driven detective, leads a team of misfits: giant, gay O’Leary; ex-Army Tyler; technogeek Andy. All of them have secrets in their past, and none of them play nice with others outside the team. When obsessive photographer Jamie Carval, searching for a new theme, stumbles across the team and their latest corpse, he’s found his new exhibition – and he’s found Casey. As he tries to follow the team, the team are more interested in solving the murder of a top-class scientist, and following the multimillion dollar trail of motives to the door of billion-dollar business. However, Carval won’t give up his exhibition no matter how much Casey pushes him away, and as he begins to discover why she hates photographs he also begins to be accepted.

14. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
The science and the financial elements are all based on real life, though the shenanigans in the lab are not. The fraud isn’t directly taken from real life, but is a composite. The setting is real (there was a lot of wandering around Manhattan using Google Street View) as are such things as the police Academy and the CSU lab. The story is all imagination, as are all of the characters.

15. What project are you working on now?
I’m working on a sequel to Death in Focus, which will feature the same team as they delve into the ugly underbelly behind the modelling world. Past history will return to haunt the team and Carval.

16. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
I’m about 2/3 through the first draft, so it’s unlikely that my next book will be ready before March/April 2019. I’ll need to edit it and get it independently read once I’ve actually finished and done my editing.

17. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I want to stay with Carval, Casey and her team. They’ve got a lot of issues to explore and interesting cases to be solved. I’m especially fond of O’Leary, as my first really big original character.

18. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism was that my writing was naïve. The best compliment, though, was that the reader couldn’t stop turning the pages.

19. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Read everything you can get your hands on – even if you think you’ll hate the author and the genre.
Get a good spelling and grammar check.
Two things I learned from writing the screenplay which translate to novels: (1) have a bio for each of your notable characters – not just your main character but the subsidiaries as well. It really helps with visualisation and continuity; (2) read your dialogue aloud to ensure it’s what people would say, not a “novelised” version of speech. Real people rarely use names in conversation, for example, and they almost always use contractions (isn’t, don’t). It really, really helps.

20. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you! I hope you enjoy reading Death in Focus and I’d love you to join me on the next one. I take questions and comments on Goodreads and Twitter, and they will be answered.

Please join me in thanking SR Garrae for engaging with me and opining up with some revealing insights into the life of an author. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact her via the following links.

Social media contacts:
Twitter: @Garrae_writes
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/srgarrae

Please show your appreciation by checking out SR Garrae’s work on Amazon:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07D5DPKNK
Death in Focus on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D59T9VV

 

Advertisements

An interview with contemporary romance novelist, Kate McBrien

Welcome to the latest in my series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am pleased to introduce the very talented, Kate McBrien, creator of the contemporary romance novels, Waiting For You and Discovering You. Kate has selected the self-publishing route with her work and I’ve enjoyed hearing her take on the pros and cons of taking that particular road.


1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and live by the beach. I have a BA in humanities and an MA in art history. I taught art history at a local college, but quit when I realized I’d rather be a student than teach.
I love the Beatles, the Kinks, and the Moody Blues (music plays an important role in my books).

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
I enjoy reading, cooking, art, movies, taking my dog to the beach, listening to music…

3. Do you have a day job as well?
I work part-time as a dental hygienist. Free advice: everyone should floss.

4. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I’ve always enjoyed writing for school, but that’s a lot different than creative writing. In 2007, a friend convinced me to try National Novel Writing Month and I loved it!

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
I started writing historical fiction, and I swear I will finish that book one day, but I wanted to write something with a happy ending. So, I decided to write a contemporary romance.

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
YES. Hasn’t everyone?

7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
It depends. I’m a panster by nature, but I do outline.

8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Katherine by Anya Seton fuelled my interest in historical (romance) fiction
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett was exquisite.

9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (self-published or traditional)?
There are so many books out there, it’s overwhelming. I decided to self-publish. The challenges are great. So many different hats to wear in order to get a book out there. Finding the help you need and can afford is a constant challenge.

10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I would have spent more time working with a community of writers to find reliable beta readers or a critique partner. I’m very social by nature, but when it comes to my writing, I’m pretty isolated. I’m reluctant to show my work to just anyone. I want to really learn the craft and not just gather opinions because listening to so many differing opinions can be misleading. I have to seek advice when I need it, but ultimately, I’m the one who must choose what changes to make.

11. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I just self-published my first book July 2018, so this part is new to me and I’m still trying to figure it out. The romance market is huge and it’s a challenge to get noticed. I did hire a PR company to do some promo work. It definitely helped get my book in front of people I would never been able to do on my own, but because it’s my first book it’s difficult to know how much this translated to actual sales.

12. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
My first book was the first book of a trilogy. The second book will be released in October, and the third book will be released in January.

13. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
My trilogy is about past lives. I had a friend who really believed in it and I thought it would be an interesting subject to work with. I mean, what if it was true?

14. What project are you working on now?
The novella that will follow up the trilogy. Because the trilogy is angsty, I thought it would be fun to write something more fun.

15. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
Waiting for You is the second book of the Indigo Trilogy. It releases October 15, 2018.

16. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
Writing a trilogy is a world-building experience. I hope to write three spin-off standalone novels using secondary characters.

17. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Toughest: I use the word “toward” too many times.
Best: I write great banter.

18. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Start writing. Keep writing. Never give up. Also, read the books by authors you admire.

19. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I appreciate each and every one of you and I hope to write many more books that explore contemporary relationships with passion and wit.

Please join me in thanking Kate for her comprehensive answers and for sharing her experiences of the modern day publishing landscape. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Kate via the following links.

Social media contacts:
Website: http://http://www.katemcbrien.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KateMcBrien1
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KateMcBrienWrites/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17988289.Kate_McBrien
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katemcbrien8315/?hl=en
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kate-mcbrien

Link to publications:
https://www.amazon.com/Kate-McBrien/e/B07CW6W91Y/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1526092556&sr=8-1

An interview with romance novelist, Sajita Nair

Welcome to the latest in my series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am pleased to introduce the very talented, Sajita Nair, creator of the classic romance novel, She’s a Jolly Good Fellow. Sajita has taken the traditional publishing route with her work and I’ve enjoyed hearing her take on the pros and cons of taking that particular road.

She's a Jolly Good Fellow - cover
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a writer based in India. My first novel, ‘She’s a Jolly Good Fellow’ (Hachette India, 2010) was inspired by my life in the Indian army. Recently, I published a collection of short stories by Juggernaut Books. Apart from these, I’ve also written travelogues, short stories and articles for various publications.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
Reading and travelling. Reading lets me explore other minds, thoughts and ideas while travelling helps me keep the childlike wonder alive by exploration of nature, cities, cultures and cuisine.

3. Do you have a day job as well?
I facilitate creative writing programs at Nutcracker creative writing workshops (www.nut-cracker.in) and I also conduct corporate training sessions on women empowerment and soft skills.

4. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
My writing career began with blogging. After every blog post, I would eagerly look forward to feedback from readers. It was a good learning experience. I then moved on to writing articles, travelogues and short stories for reputed print and online publications. It is only then that I attempted writing my novel. The first draft of my novel was done in 2007 and after several edits, I completed it in 2009. It was finally was published in 2010.

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
When I began writing my first novel, I had limited knowledge of genres. I wrote because of the compelling urge to tell the story. Much later, from the editors at publishing houses I learnt the concept of genres and their importance in marketing books.
About ideas – my ideas usually come from travel, observation and interaction with people. Being a student of psychology also helps as I tend to indulge in psycho-analysis (sometimes landing me in embarrassing social situations). But that notwithstanding, I believe that better understanding of human behaviour and emotions helps create well rounded characters in fictional work.

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I’m just out of one that lasted about eight years! Writer’s block hits me when I feel that an idea is not exciting enough to pursue. I’ve abandoned several projects after a thrilling start. Also, negative review of my work triggers a writer’s block. I get into an introspection mode. But in recent times, I’ve come to understand that each reader is entitled to his/her opinion. Hence I try and distance myself from my work. It is quite a challenge though!

7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I work on a rough outline, a short synopsis, which helps me get on track if I lose myself in the sub-plots. Usually this rough synopsis gets edited as the characters take on a life of their own.

8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
As a child, I have been influenced by the works of Rabindranath Tagore and Ruskin Bond. Tagore’s short story, ‘Kabuliwala’ still melts my heart. As an adult, I’ve enjoyed reading Hemingway, JM Coetzee, Haruki Murakami, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jodi Picoult and Amitav Ghosh.

9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
My novel was selected by a talent scout at the Kala Ghoda Literary festival in Mumbai. And this led to a traditional publishing contract. I believe that such contests/ forums at literary festivals are a great way to land your first publishing contract.

10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
Nothing! Although with time, one learns the nuances of storytelling better, I wouldn’t replace the raw energy in my first book. Its imperfection is perfect.

11. What project are you working on now?
My upcoming novel is a story set in North Kerala and tries to capture the essence of a changing society from Maru-makka-thayam (inheritance through nephews and nieces followed among Nairs of Malabar) to the modern day nuclear one. It requires me to study anthropology so as to understand how the society functioned and what triggered the transition. The research is on and I hope to complete it in a year.

12. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the greatest compliment?
Let’s start with the good things first. The best compliment I received was when readers told me that they could get under the skin of my characters and feel the emotions and challenges. Most readers found my work inspiring and entertaining. The worst however was when a critic wrote in a review that had my paperback not been published, the world could’ve saved more trees.

13. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Don’t stop writing. It’s a long drawn process, often replete with rejections, self doubt and criticism. But like the proverbial tortoise, continue to write bit by bit, everyday. Quoting Toni Morrison – If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.

Look forward to reading your work!

Please join me in thanking Sajita for her comprehensive answers and for sharing her experiences of the modern day publishing landscape. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Sajita via the following links.

Please show your appreciation by checking out her work on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Sajita+Nair

Social media contacts:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sajita.nair.79
Twitter – https://twitter.com/sajitanair1
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/sajita.nair.79/

Previous publications:
Debut novel, She’s a Jolly Good Fellow – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7229386-she-s-a-jolly-good-fellow
Short stories – https://www.juggernaut.in/authors/5a6a2d21b4c3447eb8c2c3d8af50a39f

Book reviews –

https://www.news18.com/news/books/shes-a-jolly-good-fellow-is-thrilling-345663.html
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20100801/spectrum/book4.htm