Friday, 29 April 2011

Interview with Penny Deacon

Today we’re talking to Penny Deacon, author of near-future thriller “A Kind of Puritan”, latest title in our eCC eBook imprint, which publishes today.

What first made you want to write?

I remember complaining to my mother, ‘I haven’t got anything to read!’ To which she replied, ‘You’ll just have to write your own book then, won’t you?’ I was six. Years later, I still think it was good advice. The ‘book’ that resulted wasn’t particularly original – it starred an oppressed princess with a remarkable resemblance to me who ended up overcoming all enemies and saving the kingdom. Prince Charming didn’t figure, but there were lots of thrilling adventures. Sadly this early piece of great literature was lost in one of our frequent house moves.

What inspired you to write “A Kind of Puritan”?

Humility (my lead character rather than the virtue) walked into my mind and wouldn’t go away so I had to find something for her to do. I was also fascinated with the way technology was beginning to take over our everyday lives (this was just about the time when the mobile phone was beginning to be everyone’s ‘must have’ and I couldn’t work out how to use all the functions on mine) and remote communications seemed to be endangering the pleasures of talking face to face.

Your novel is set in near-future Britain. What appealed about setting it in that time?

That follows on from my previous answer – I wondered what would happen if technology continued to develop fast, and what would happen to someone who, perhaps from the circumstances of her upbringing, had below average IT skills. Would she see the world in a different way?

 “A Kind of Puritan” would be fantastic as on film or TV! Who would be your dream casting for your heroine Humility? 

The film version (or TV series) is my dream! I wish someone with the necessary money and contacts would read the book (and its sequel) and realise it’s perfect! Ideally I’d like a young Sigourney Weaver as Humility. Not sure what the equivalent is today. Someone with attitude and striking looks – not a Hollywood beauty.

What is your routine when you’re writing? Take us through a typical day.

I am a Bad Person. I lack discipline. I don’t do routine (too many years’ teaching – it’s a reaction to the tyranny of the timetable). When I’m about to start something new I’ll offer to walk the neighbour’s dog, then remember that I haven’t cleaned out the spare room wardrobe, and, oh yes, the skirting boards need washing. And of course I have to stop for coffee. By then it’s too late to be worth beginning anything that day. Of course, once I am well into a story then the phone is off, the refrigerator is empty but I’ve still got coffee so that’s OK, and who cares about housework. And I’m OUT when anyone calls. With everything new I start, I swear I will be more organised but somehow it doesn’t quite work.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to try their hand at crime fiction?

Go for it! The great thing about crime fiction is that it spans all genres, there are no limits. You can be cosy or mean streets, your characters can be whoever you want them to be. Your narrator can be your killer. Even good doesn’t have to triumph (although I have a preference for this). And don’t worry about the plot. Crime writers seem to fall into two camps: those who plot everything meticulously before they begin, and those who have a general idea of the plot and motives but enjoy the adventure of discovering the plot as the story unfolds. Spend all your spare time observing how others behave and asking ‘What if…?’ One of my favourite short stories emerged from wondering about a woman in front of me in a slow supermarket queue (you know the one I mean) with a basket containing only two tins of baby food, some broccoli, and a bottle of brandy.

Is there anything that your readers would be surprised to know about you?

That I spent 10 years living on an ocean-going yacht? And still get sea-sick.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing a contemporary crime novel about murder in a care home. With a twist. I’m also trying to do more short stories – I find they’re more of a challenge than the longer format, but when you get one right it’s just as satisfying.

“A Kind of Puritan” is published in eBook form today and is available from Amazon.

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