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  • Barbara Copperthwaite

BLOOD TYPE: Sweetpea author CJ Skuse @CJSkuse @harpercollinsUK #writingtips #writerslife


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.

“First drafts for me are like filling an empty swimming pool with cups of water”

This week: C.J. SKUSE

Tell us about yourself…

I’m a blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stain glass window. Nah, not really. Actually I’m a fairly average 36-year-old gal from Weston super Mare who grew up behind bars, eats way too many Maoams, failed Maths GCSE three time

s and spends all her time in churchyards. I am blonde though (on occasion) and I love death sites, dogs and doll houses. I am also a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University so when I’m not writing my own books, I’m helping students to write theirs. BSU is a gorgeous place to work and is where I did both of my degrees. Every time I walk onto campus my spine straightens and I just feel so lucky to be there. I love it more than all the fishes in the sea, which is a lot.

How do you pick character names? Do any have special meaning to you?

Character names are always important to me and I spend waaaay too much time thinking of them. Sometimes I’ll just hear a name I like and I’ll use it (as was the case with Paisley – the protagonist of my first YA novel Pretty Bad Things – I was listening to a Scottish weather forecast) and other times I will agonise over them for weeks. The graveyards I frequent on my dog walks are sometimes sources of inspiration when it comes to names too, though I always use centuries-old names out of respect.

In Sweetpea my character was originally called Tamsin but when I heard Fleetwood Mac’s song Rhiannon on the radio, I knew she was meant to be called Rhiannon instead. With my fourth YA novel Monster (set in an all-girl boarding school) I needed to come up with… TO READ IN FULL, CLICK HERE

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