CRIME AUTHORS SPILL THEIR GUTS ABOUT WRITING. Every Thursday top-notch authors of psychological thrillers and crime fiction share their writing secrets – and the secrets to their success – with you and me.
“Take every single piece of criticism seriously. I never dismiss anything that any reader, critic, blogger or editor says”
Tell us about yourself…
One of the biggest factors in my life is that I have two careers, one as a novelist, the other teaching at a university. Both are important to me, though it is sometimes challenging to get the right balance between them. I should probably try to tell you some eve ryday things about myself. I love baking with my daughters. My sister is my best friend. I have a serious aversion to mayonnaise. And I take really long showers. Apart from writing, my other creative passion is sewing and dressmaking (though I rarely have time). A lot of novelists seem to know when they are very young that they will be writers, but I didn’t. When I was a little girl and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, ‘a reader’.
How do you pick character names? Do any have special meaning to you?
When you name a child, you usually need to negotiate with your partner. When you name a character, it’s a kind of super-power all your own.
There is a special, personal thing about the heroine of my new novel, THE SECOND SISTER. Ella’s middle name, Allegra, only appears once in the book, but it’s a tribute to another Allegra, my grandmother. Quite often I name characters after literary figures. Miranda (Ella’s missing sister) is named after the heroine of John Fowles’s novel, THE COLLECTOR. Miranda’s middle name is Charlotte, after Charlotte Brontë. An important male character in THE SECOND SISTER is called Ted, after Ted Hughes. Sadie was a name Sylvia Plath used. I’ve always loved it, so I managed to get that into THE SECOND SISTER too.
My first novel, THE BOOK OF YOU, was a reworking of CLARISSA by Samuel Richardson. Because many of the characters have counterparts in the eighteenth-century original, their names were pre-determined. I put a personal thing into THE BOOK OF YOU, too. My favourite teacher, Mr Mathieson, died in a car crash during my final year in school. I snuck his name into the novel. It is only a tiny reference, but it means a lot to me that he is there, somehow. All these years later, I can still hear his voice. Speed and accuracy, he would say during our English tests, over and over again, always drawing out the first word… TO READ IN FULL, CLICK HERE