Carol is back and this time she is talking about how she managed to switch from the sweetness and light to the dark dark world!
From Comedy to Crime
I never expected to become known as a crime writer. I started writing comedies, light-hearted fiction and non-fiction books in 2009, but even though I enjoyed success with them, a desire to write a psychological thriller bubbled in the background.
Following the success of Life Swap (which has the mother of all twists), I was contracted to write three further novels for Bookouture and it was expected they’d be humorous. I submitted synopses for each and had them accepted, then, on a whim, I asked my editor if I could submit an idea for a thriller. She loved my pitch for Little Girl Lost, and it was full steam ahead with a carefully constructed plot that I’d had been working out for several years.
You could have knocked me down with a feather when the book soared up the charts and readers shouted out about it. When my editor suggested, instead of the comedies, I should write a crime series around DI Robyn Carter and her team, I realised I could take a different path, one I really wanted to follow.
I didn’t struggle with the second in the series at all. In fact, Secrets of the Dead was infinitely easier to write than Little Girl Lost. The entire plot came to me whilst I was writing the first book in the series (along with a host of other plots). This time, I knew how to approach writing it. No more scrolling through notes or scurrying about for scraps of paper containing indecipherable scribbles. I had character details already mapped out on several sheets of paper and tackled the entire project, much like Robyn would one of her cases. I had timelines, murderer’s POV, and a sequence of events pinned to my office wall before I began writing. I wasn’t going to get lost in that fog of ‘who said what and when?’ that I’d experienced with my first thriller.
This time around, my main characters already had lives, backstories and traits that I’d given them in Little Girl Lost. I felt I knew them better and could colour each in, giving them more credibility. Each one gradually became more alive.
I set the book in and around where I live. I didn’t want to complicate matters by doing searches on places with which I’m not familiar. I think writing about somewhere you really know, gives the book and storyline more gravitas.
The plot to Secrets of the Dead is incredibly twisted. I adore twists. I spend hours and hours thinking up surprises for my readers, and I had plenty in that book.
However, what made writing it easier than the first thriller was having more self-belief. I’ve been reading crime thrillers since I was a child, and never thought I was a good enough writer in this genre. I only had to conjure up some of the big names to feel I could never offer anything quite as good.
It appears I have found my niche. Now my name appears alongside those well-known ones and every time I see it I marvel at how fate and good fortune has put me in this position. I still feel I am learning my craft and honing it with each book. With each story, I grow in confidence. There are more books to come, both comedies and crime and I consider myself very fortunate to be on a journey that I enjoy so much.
I am just grateful you write books, they are either dark and twisty or filled with love and laughter. What a journey already and that you are still going on!
Until next time xxx