Friday, 4 June 2010

Interview with author Maureen Carter

To tie in with the recent launch by Creative Content of their first four Crème de la Crime novels in eBook format, we continue our series of interviews with the four authors. This week we feature Maureen Carter, author of “Working Girls.

Maureen has worked extensively in newspapers, radio and television and still freelances in the business. As a journalist, she worked closely with the police, covering countless crime stories, interviewing many victims and reporting on several murders. Originally from Staffordshire, Maureen lives and writes in the West Midlands.

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?

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the actress Liz White playing WPC Annie Cartwright in Life on Mars - I’d never seen her before, but apart from her eye colour, she was Bev Morriss made flesh - she is SO close to how I see Bev in my mind… As for who’d read an audio book, that’s trickier - voices are incredibly important. The voice says so much about you from the moment you open your mouth - one thing I don’t hear though is a Birmingham accent! If I had the chance I would LOVE to narrate the book myself!

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 generally write a two or three page outline around a central plot and, usually, a sub-plot. This also includes major developments in the core characters’ lives, both professionally and personally - so I start with clear ideas about the book’s opening, close and several key scenes along the way…but I’m free to go where the fancy takes me! I always have a notepad with me, and on the bedside table, so that I can make notes and maybe even jot down the odd bit of dialogue. You can get some great ideas in the early hours and if you don’t write them down, you can so easily forget them. I tend to write in “office hours” and tend not to wait around for inspiration to strike; I like to get on with it, setting myself a minimum number of words per day to keep me on track and I don’t believe in such a thing as “writers block.”

Your book was published 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?

I’m really excited about the ePub of Working Girls. I want people to read my books and anything which helps readers access my work is - in my book - a good thing. As for the new devices - yes please! I definitely want a Kindle, because it also allows audio downloads and I think this is so important - especially perhaps to the older reader who may be averse to an eReader as such, but would be swayed by the audio options - it’s a great thing for them. We would be silly not to embrace the eBook, as the sales increases - particularly in the USA - are quite extraordinary.

Did you set out to create a series based character or was that accidental?

It wasn’t my intention to create a series and certainly not a series based around Bev Morriss. She first appeared as a minor character in an unpublished novel I wrote years ago. There was something about her I liked, so when I embarked on writing Working Girls I brought her centre stage - to me Bev is like a breath of fresh - if feisty - air!

How do you go about your research?

Having been in journalism for over twenty years, researching and finding things out is second nature to me and if there’s a particular aspect of the plot that I need help with, I tend to phone someone I know who could put me in touch with someone in that specific area - that way you don’t just get the facts, you get some anecdotal stuff as well. I don’t do it ALL when I sit down to write a book; I tend to do some and then for a particular plot twist or something, I do more. I tend to like to meet these people and take a portable recorder with me which helps build up a stronger contact.

Is there any one person who inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve read voraciously all my life and I always wanted to be a writer. I guess that’s one of the reasons I became a journalist. I can’t pinpoint a single person who inspired me to write fiction, but the opening line of A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell blew me away and I thought when I read it how could anyone not want to read on! Another writer that I am in awe of is John Le Carre - I think his prose is extraordinarily good and A Perfect Spy is a perfect book! As far as being influenced by a writer, I know a number of writers who choose not to read another author when they are writing themselves; they don’t want to pick up someone else’s style. I totally disagree with that, because if you have strong voices and a strong writing style, you aren’t going to be affected. Also, if you’re not reading what’s out there, then you’re not really keeping abreast of things…so I say that if you’re a writer, you have to write all the time and you have to read all the time but always keep your own distinctive voice.

Is there any one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you?

Well I do have an absolute passion for Johnny Depp - very much like Bev, as he is her fantasy figure! I think he is one of the best actors and he has a wonderful voice and is truly captivating on-screen.

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