So I sent over to Carol 20 Questions. I did not expect her to answer them all but guess what…yup you guessed it…she did!!! So I have had to do the sensible thing and split this over 2 posts. It was hard deciding on how to split the questions! So this post is all about writing, characters and plots!
You ready to get to know Carol a bit more……….
Ok, let is start out of your books is your favourite that you have written and why?
I’ve enjoyed writing them all and can’t actually say I like one more than the others. I have a soft spot for Take a Chance on Me because it was a homage to the radio presenters who kept me sane, during prolonged periods spent in the hospital unable to move from my bed, and I got to try out all the challenges in the book, including diving with sharks.
The one I had the most fun writing was What Happens in France because research for it involved getting onto televised gameshows (huge fun) and travelling around France.
I suppose in terms of my actual writing, An Eye For An Eye, which won’t be out until next year, is my best written so far. My skills have been developing over the years and everything came together for that book, which is much darker and psychological than my others. I’m really happy with how it’s turned out, which is unusual because generally, I’m dissatisfied with every book I write. Even now, if you asked me to read any one of them, I’d want to edit it to death and change it. I recently requested all my old comedies be removed from sale, with the intentions of rewriting them to improve the content.
I can’t wait to read your older books!! Same time next year for another TakeOver! So these are your favourites, but out of all your books what chapter did you find the hardest to finish and why?
Without a doubt, The Blossom Twins. I couldn’t write for tears and because I employ ‘method writing’ which essentially means I get into all my characters’ heads and go through the very emotions they experience, I was in a dreadful state by the end of that book. Every time it was returned to me for edits, I’d go through the whole process again. Even Mr Grumpy could see what an emotional wreck I was by the end of the whole process.
At the time of scheduling this post, I have a confession, I haven’t read The Blossoms Twins yet but I know what happens, I am dreading it!! I am not surprised you were an emotional wreck!!!! When you are writing, what comes first the characters or the plot?
It used to be plot line but because I have to submit a detailed synopsis of each book before I even begin writing it, I start with the lead character or characters, and decide what they are like, then work out a plotline. You will notice there’s a theme running throughout the series, so I have to plan several books at a time to allow that arc idea to play out. In the Robyn Carter series, it‘s about uncovering the truth behind the disappearance of her fiancé, Davies. In the Natalie Ward series, the reader is drawn into Natalie and David’s relationship and wonders if it will eventually crumble and, with Kate Young… well… you will have to find out, but I can tell you it is a much darker thread that links those books.
Oh you tease about Kate!!! So, are any characters based on real people? People we might know or did you just delve into that expansive imagination of yours?
A mixture of both. I don’t base whole characters on people, only traits, although in my early books, grumpy Phil was definitely based on a certain Mr Grumpy and Amanda’s chain-smoking, the party animal of a mother who lived in Cyprus, was almost entirely modelled on my own mother.
Ha ha, I look forward to meeting them! Do you have an idea of where your characters are going before you start writing or do they develop as you write?
I know them inside out. They all have backstories and lives that aren’t revealed in the books. I lie awake at night and think about each of them: how they’d speak, dress, their families, even what food they’d like or tv programmes they’d watch. They have to be totally real to me before I can convincingly place them into the story. They also need to interact with other characters so they’ll have different voices, ways of standing, dressing, acting and so on. My head is like a private cinema in which I play out my scenes before I write them, and like film outtakes, there are loads of sections, I don’t use.
Wow! That is some dedication to the characters! I love this. So you know their story and their traits, but how do you name the characters?
I have a notebook with male and female names and surnames that I collect. I might see a person in the chemist, wearing a tag that says, ‘Sophia’ and think, Nice name, I’ll use that so it gets added to my list. I then marry up suitable names and match them to my character. It’s like naming a child. the name has to fit the person. With Robyn, I wanted an unusual first name and Carter is after Carter Street in Uttoxeter, my main town. Natalie was a little different. I chose four strong female lead names and four surnames and put them to the vote in my Street Team, a bunch of fabulous readers and book bloggers who support me (Zoé is one of them, everyone!) They chose Natalie’s name. Now and again, I hold competitions with the prize being a character named after the winner. I then use their name (with their permission). Again, a few of my Street Team had characters named after them in Suddenly Single.
Thanks for the shout out! Yes a few names were recognised in that book! Ok! One of the last
interrogation, questions about characters! Right, choose one character from any book you have written…one character…that you would love to spend the day with and what would you do?
I’d hang out with Robyn’s cousin Ross and help him do some private investigating. He’s the older brother I never had, sort of guy, who would make me laugh. I’m really interested in all that PI stuff so I’d be more than happy to pile into an old car and spy on false claimants, or even hang around a bar as a honey trap! Or, take his dog for a walk.
I love Ross!! I need me more of him! OK, quick chat about Natalie!! Why do you love Natalie and why should the readers root for her?
Natalie is ‘normal’. She isn’t a ballsy copper, with a chip on her shoulder, or has any particular skeletons in her closet. She is so human you can relate to her. She’s a mother trying to manage a job she enjoys, but she’d rather have more free time to be a proper mum to her kids. She’s been forced into taking on the promotion because of her husband’s gambling addiction and she steps up to the mark, tries to make it all work for the sake of the family. She’s loyal and stands by her husband and marriage, and believes in doing the right thing, even if it means she, as an individual, suffers. It’s the fact that she is so eminently ordinary that she holds an appeal for many. How many mums (and dads) are also making sacrifices for their families and trying to juggle so many balls they are almost at breaking point?
That is definitely the feeling I have with Natalie! Ok, we will finish one a couple of fun questions. Pick a book that you would love on the big screen and who is in the film?
I’d love to see the crime series as television dramas, but the comedies lend themselves to film. What Happens in France would film brilliantly: chateaux, picturesque villages and just the right amount of madness. It would make a great feel-good film. As for casting, Ryan Reynolds as Lewis Scott, because of his sarcastic sharp-edged wit paired with stone-faced delivery (and good looks!) and Emma Stone (La La Land) (great husky voice and beautiful eyes) as Bryony Masters. I’d love to be the person who casts for the Instagram famous pug dog Biggie Smalls!
OMG I would totes watch this! Knock Knock Hollywood!!! Ok last question for this part! You are a character in a book, are you a heroine or are you villanous AND what are you called?
Without a doubt, I’d be a villain. But not a totally psychotic, badass one, more of a jokey one like the Penguin in the Batman movies. I’d probably be called The Black Parrot on account of the fact I enjoy mimicking accents and of course, talking – a lot! I would swoop down on people endlessly repeating, ‘Who a clever girl’ before pecking them hard with my beak.
Sorry I am laughing, this is hilarous!! But please don’t peck me to death, that is one of my fears!!!!
What an awesome start to the questions – thank you Carol! Look forward to Part 2! 😉
Until next time xxx