We love crime fiction and crime fiction authors! Continuing our occasional series of interviews with some of our authors, this week we talk to Mary Andrea Clarke, author of The Crimson Cavalier - one of CCTheLowdown director Lorelei King’s favourites in the eCC eBook series.
By day, Mary Andrea Clarke is a responsible civil servant - but by night, she is a mystery woman! Her love of crime fiction led her to join the vibrant group of readers and writers who organise many events and meetings all over the UK. She lives in Surrey and has completed her next novel, which is due for publication in August 2010
1. If you could choose any actress to play the lead role on TV or reading an audio version of your titles, who would you choose?
Catherine Zeta Jones! She has a lively and spirited presence which would bring Georgiana Grey to life on-screen. Anne Cater did an excellent job of reading The Crimson Cavalier and I think my fellow crime writer Linda Regan would also be a good choice. If I had the chance, I would LOVE to narrate the audio myself as I think it would be a really exciting experience.
2. How do you structure the layout and plot lines of your books? Do you have a clear plot line, or do things twist, turn and develop as you go along?
I have a general outline for the entire book, but plot each chapter as I go along using a mind map - this helps with tangents and off-shoots. The initial draft for my first book was written in long-hand, but now I write direct to my laptop. I spend an hour each day on my commute to work, so try to write as much as I can then, but otherwise it’s back on the computer after I’ve had something to eat and working into the night…Weekends are better, as I can have a whole day, but as far as structure and plot is concerned, I either have a notebook or my laptop with me so that I can keep note of ideas and plotlines.
3. Your book is publishing in ePUB/eBook format with Creative Content at the end of April. Do you have any specific views on the digital marketplace as an outlet for your titles and what do you think of the new devices like the Kindle?
It’s very exciting to see reading moving into the digital world. It’s a helpful option for the reader to have another medium to enjoy books and which can offer a wide range of titles in an easily mobile format. The Kindle and the iPad can bring a lot more books - even audio downloads - to the reader, which is a great addition. A great way to take a lot of books on holiday without exceeding the baggage limit!
4. Did you set out to create a series based character or was that accidental?
The Crimson Cavalier was started as a standalone novel, but as the book progressed, ideas developed for other books featuring Georgiana.
5. How do you go about your research?
I tended to do the bulk of my research about the period, and particularly highwaymen, before the first novel and tend to renew and refer back to that as I go along, but if it‘s something I just don‘t know or am not familiar with, I would always do the main research before starting to write. And I am always reading - another way to pass the time during my daily commute! I had read a lot about the Regency period in my youth and that has continued and that has helped a lot when it comes to research and background.
6. Is there any one person who inspired you to become a writer?
I tend to absorb what I can from lots of different writers. When I start to write, I think a lot of what I’ve read returns from my subconscious mind; you almost don’t realise you’ve remembered it! I used to read a lot about the Tudor period from Jean Plaidy and she was always very well researched and could really bring characters to life. She also used to write as Victoria Holt.
7. Is there any one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you?
I was in a fencing club when I was at University!
8. Were you at all inspired by the novels of Georgette Heyer in setting your novels in the Regency period and if so, which of hers novels is a favourite?
Yes - her novels did contribute inspiration, but I wanted a different angle - a single woman working around the restrictions of the period to solve a crime. My favourite of her books is Sylvester, where the heroine secretly writes a novel. - interview by Alan Muirden