A Q&A with Crime Writer Thomas O’Callaghan

 

 

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Is there a sociopathic killer on the loose and murdering prostitutes in New York City? NYPD’s top cop, Homicide Commander Lieutenant John Driscoll, believes there is. Someone who calls himself “Tilden” and claims to have been sexually abused as a child by his mother’s john. But what could have triggered Tilden’s rage that has him on a mission to eradicate all the women of the night in The Big Apple?

 

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Q&A with Thomas O’Callaghan for Benjamin Thomas’ The Writing Train

 

How did your early reading habits lead you to become a writer?

After graduating with a liberal arts degree from Richmond College I landed a job with Allstate Insurance Company as a sales agent.  When the company opted to take their sales force in another direction I decided it was time to retire and find something else to do with my time. I spent much of that time reading.  On the beach in summer and on the couch in winter.  One day I picked up a copy of HELTER SKELTER, by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. This is an often used adage, but I couldn’t put it down. The author’s attention to detail fascinated me. After that, I was hooked on novels depicting murder, mayhem and suspense. I soon discovered such notables as Thomas Harris, John Sandford, Lawrence Block and Ed McBain, just to name a few. Unlike, HELTER SKELTER, where the storyline was based on an actual murder, Harris, Sandford, Block, McBain and company, created murder and the intrigue that surrounded it. I was enthralled all the more. Read on, I said, and so I did.  After I finished reading my twelfth 87th Precinct novel, I thought: I could do that!  And so, on a gloomy, rain-soaked Friday afternoon, that happened to follow Thanksgiving, I began writing NIGHTKILLS, which would later become BONE THIEF.  Looking back, I’m happy with the course my life had taken me, bringing me to what has become my life’s passion:  Writing!


Was it a journey developing the confidence to write, or did it come naturally? 

 

It was a journey that had begun at a slow pace.  Aside from essays in college I’d never written in a narrative fashion.  When I took an early retirement from Allstate I was 49.  With a great deal of free time on my hands a very good friend suggested to either take on a new job or devote time to a hobby I’d enjoy.  My first venture toward that end had me wandering through Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY armed with a 35mm camera taking photographs of nature-in-the-raw.  That interest waned after four or five weeks.  I then enrolled at HB Studios in NYC to study the art of ‘acting’.  It was fun, but after two months I began to lose interest. Since I enjoyed reading mysteries and thrillers, my trusted friend suggested I write one.  Me?  Write a book?  I haven’t a clue as to where to start, I argued.  She suggested I write 

an opening chapter similar in style to what I liked to read.  And so I did.  After she read it she asked me what I had in mind for the next chapter.  This went on for several weeks at the end of which I had written the opening of a story that only she and I had read.  I didn’t think it was very good but she encouraged me to call a friend of hers, a “writing coach” of sorts, which I did.  His name was Stephen Ohayon.  He had once taught the art of writing on a college level and offered to work with me to turn my feeble attempt into a saleable novel.  We met weekly in his office in Manhattan where his day job was as a psychotherapist.  He scheduled time for me between patients.  I brought him a typed chapter and during a one hour session he helped me push that chapter from first draft to second, third, fourth and fifth.  When we reached Chapter Last I set out to market the book.  It sold close to 100,000 copies and was translated and published in Germany, Slovakia, Indonesia, the Czech Republic, China, and Italy.   

 

 

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I enjoy writing for a number of reasons.  One that comes to mind immediately is that writing allows me to escape the hum drum of everyday life.  Another reason is that creating characters for the sole purpose of performing in a story that I’ve set in motion is exciting.  I’m fueled by that. And, because it’s fiction, I’m motivated to weave memories of times in my life, some good, some regrettable, into the back story of my characters. We all have chapters we wish never to see published, but, with the right finesse, the theme of those blunders can and do add human authenticity to fictional entities. 


What are the most challenging aspects?  

One of the most challenging aspects of being a writer is constantly competing with an inner voice that tells me what I’ve written isn’t very good.  That, of and in itself, drives me to be a better writer.  Writers write.  Rewriters get published.


How has your writing process developed over the twelve years it took to become published?

The writing process as outlined above continued in the same fashion, day after day, week after week.  Those weeks became years as I needed to convince a publisher my work was ready for print.  That involved submission after submission of query letters and partial manuscripts to every single literary agent that specialized in my genre.  When I reached the end of the line, so to speak, and any further submission would be repetitive I took the advice of a few well intentioned literary agents along the way to have a professional editor have a look at my manuscript.  After working for two years with the late Dick Marek, who’d edited The Silence of the Lambs for Thomas Harris along with nine of Robert Ludlam’s books, Kensington Books agreed to publish my debut novel.  


What are some ways working with an editor has helped you?

Aside from learning that a tightly written novel reads very quickly, thereby keeping the reader engaged, working with a professional editor taught me a wonderful lesson:  a writer, especially someone starting out, often feels his or her work is sacrosanct, but the editor is keenly aware of what a publisher is looking for and what sells.  It’s best to accept that reality and be open to change.  It will increase the chance of having your work published.   

How important is rewriting when working on a manuscript?

Extremely important.  I begin by writing a first draft of a chapter which entails typing without concern for spelling, punctuation, or cohesion.  The point is to get the thought on paper as quickly as possible without listening to that inner voice telling you “Oh, that’s not good,”  Once that’s done, I’ll go in and rewrite the chapter over and over again, until I have what I consider perfection.  In essence, one must write drunk and edit sober.


If we were to meet NYPD homicide cop John Driscoll, what kind of person would we meet?

In short, he’d be a taller version of me.  He’s an Irishman with a sense of morality who tries to do the right thing.  A compassionate soul who tries to be kind to friends and foes alike. Yes, Lieutenant Driscoll is flawed.  But, then, who isn’t?

 

Do the John Driscoll mysteries employ a certain theme?

Yes, the theme is that good prevails over evil.  They are psychological thrillers which detail the fictionalized onslaught of heinous murders perpetrated by a madman, or in the case of THE SCREAMING ROOM, a set of demonic twins, using New York City as a killing field.  Lieutenant Driscoll is brought into the equation intent on putting a stop to the madness.

 

If you were John Driscoll in, No One Will Hear Your Screams, could you solve the case?

 

Absolutely!  The Lieutenant is a resourceful investigator who, with the able-bodied assistance of two professional and ingenious associates in Margaret Aligante and Cedric Thomlinson, evil can’t triumph.

 

What are you currently working on?

My current work in progress introduces Richard Singleton, a bestselling author suffering from writer’s block.  When he becomes the owner of a beach house where a heinous murder had taken place, he finds stimulation and is able to put the pen to paper again.  His manuscript is progressing well and his faltered career is looking bright again, that is until he gets an anonymous call from the former owner of the house who had perpetrated the aforementioned murder who has plans of his own regarding what this bestselling author should write. 

 

 

Thomas O'Callaghan

 

 

Thomas O’Callaghan’s work has been translated for publication in Germany, Slovakia, Indonesia, the Czech Republic, China, and Italy. As an internationally acclaimed author, Mr. O’Callaghan is a member of both the Mystery Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers associations. A native of New York City and a graduate of Richmond College, Mr. O’Callaghan resides with his lovely wife, Eileen, a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean in beautiful Belle Harbor, New York. His debut novel BONE THIEF introduces NYPD Homicide Commander Lieutenant John W. Driscoll. THE SCREAMING ROOM, is the second in the John Driscoll series. The third book in the series, NO ONE WILL HEAR YOUR SCREAMS was recently released by WildBlue Press. For more information, please visit: ThomasOCallaghan.com

 

ThomasOCallaghan.com

 

 

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Writing Conflict In Crime Fiction With Detective Adam Richardson

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY

 

 

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Writing Conflict In Crime Fiction With Detective Adam Richardson

 

 

 

 

 

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Want to write a crime-fiction story but not sure where to start? Are you between drafts and feeling stuck? Do you feel that you just don’t know enough about police work to write a believable police detective protagonist?

In this conversational and fact-filled handbook, veteran police detective Adam Richardson answers the criminal investigation questions most frequently asked by authors and screenwriters. Unlike many other writing guides about “the cop stuff,” the Writer’s Detective Handbook addresses police procedure and criminal investigation from the storyteller’s perspective.

The Writer’s Detective Handbook: Criminal Investigation for Authors and Screenwriters equips storytellers with the ability to tell a great story while keeping the police-work aspects believable. Reading this book will empower you to write the crime-fiction story you’ve been dying to tell!

 

Available August 18, 2019 Preorder now

 

www.writersdetective.com

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Autopsies For Authors with Geoff Symon & Joanna Penn

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY

 

 

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Autopsies For Authors with Geoff Symon

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Geoff Symon

 

Geoff Symon is a 20-year Federal Forensic Investigator and Polygraph Examiner. His participation in high-profile cases includes the attacks on September 11, 2001, the War in Iraq, the Space Shuttle Columbia explosion, the 2002 bombings in Bali and the Chandra Levy investigation, among countless other cases.

He has direct, first-hand experience investigating cases including murder (of all types), suicide, arson, kidnapping, bombings, sexual assault, child exploitation, theft and financial crimes. He has specified and certified training in the collection and preservation of evidence, blood-spatter analysis, autopsies and laboratory techniques. You can reach him at GeoffSymon.com.

 

 

 

Autopsies for Authors

 

 

Want to add an autopsy that won’t kill your story? Death swings its scythe in every genre, from family funerals to crime scenes to creatures that won’t stay buried. This user-friendly, illustrated reference digs into all things posthumous and postmortem.

Presented as a research manual for the experienced writer, this “Forensics for Fiction” title offers practical approaches and realistic details by covering:

¤ Terms and techniques used during autopsy procedures
¤ Different postmortem professionals and their specialties
¤ The stages of decomposition in different environments
¤ Methods used to estimate the time of death
¤ Case studies in which autopsies cracked the crime
¤ Examples of how to use autopsies in any popular genre

Whether you’re writing about dissection or resurrection, this guidebook covers it all from cadaver to slab as an easy-to-understand resource for dead-on storytelling.

 

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Book Review: The Bone Collector – Lincoln Rhyme #1

Bone Collector Lincoln Ryme

 

 

Lincoln Rhyme was once a brilliant criminologist, a genius in the field of forensics — until an accident left him physically and emotionally shattered. But now a diabolical killer is challenging Rhyme to a terrifying and ingenious duel of wits. With police detective Amelia Sachs by his side, Rhyme must follow a labyrinth of clues that reaches back to a dark chapter in New York City’s past — and reach further into the darkness of the mind of a madman who won’t stop until he has stripped life down to the bone.

 

 

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My first Jeffrey Deaver book was a blast! Brilliant plotting and characterization. I would never have thought of a protagonist with a spinal cord injury to begin a crime series–But he did it. And it’s a blockbuster! The creativity behind this simply stunning. A C4 quadriplegic forensic genius hardly capable of movement and a rookie cop who hates his guts team up as a dynamic duo. Amazing. Can’t wait to read more of Lincoln Rhyme and Emelia Sachs as they embark on adventurous cases and solve mysterious crimes.

 

 

 

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Writer Tony Harrison Discusses his Work in Progress

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What is your approach to writing? Outline, spontaneous, or both?

I’m a little of both. I’ll jot down random thoughts at first, then piece them together in the order I think works best. Most are just one-liners, that become the basis for full-blown scenes or character POV’s.

 

Where does your story take place?

I actually have two ebooks out, with first one taking place in Aberdeen Scotland, along with snippets in Glasgow Scotland, Belfast Northern Ireland and Dublin Ireland. The other takes place in Marseille France, with snippets in Algiers, Algeria and Morocco.

 

Name your biggest struggles writing this book.

Maintaining consistency in time. Sometimes it is between morning, noon and night, while others is something happening on one day and jumping two days later.

 

What has been helpful to you?

Community and friends, both locally and via the web. HAving someone help me understand the subtle nuances in dialogue, setting and the treaded ‘showing v. telling’ is really helpful.

 

What have you learned in your writing journey thus far?

Each day brings a new challange; whether it is creating better dialogue, making my character’s more ‘believable’ or simply stringing the sentences together, it’s all a learning process.

 

Does your book feature a central protagonist?


Yes, Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Conor McDermott is the main character in the story. A former Royal Navy officer, he is assigned a case that began in Portsmouth when a dock worker who was killed is found.

 

How do you get to know your characters?

Having Conor as a police officer aligns with my grandfather’s brother who was a constable in Edinburgh. I also have two older cousin’s who are members of law enforcement, so Conor is a tribute to them in a small way.

 

What’s the overarching goal of the hero?

Conor is out to find out how his niece was drugged, which led to her death (she jumped from an apartment rooftop). He also looks to redeem himself as his tendency is to bend certain rules in pursuit of catching criminals.

 

 

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Thanks Tony!

 

Audiobook Blog Tour: Detective Hunter Series Book 4 – Hell To Pay

Detective Kay Hunter

 

 

Detective Kay Hunter #4 – Hell to Pay

 

 

Hell to Pay Cover AUDIO

 

 

About Audiobook #4

Author: Rachel Amphlett

Narrator: Alison Campbell

Length: 7 hours 14 minutes

Publisher: Saxon Publishing⎮2018

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Series: Detective Kay Hunter, Book 4

Release date: Jan. 01, 2018

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: When a road traffic accident on a dark autumn night uncovers a disturbing conspiracy, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter’s investigation exposes a ruthless serial killer exploiting vulnerable young women.

With her enemies unmasked and her career spiraling out of control, Kay’s determination to seek vengeance for the victims brings her dangerously close to those who want to silence her.
Undeterred, she uncovers the real reason behind a plot to destroy her career and sets in motion a terrifying chain of events.

 

Buy Links for Audiobook #4

Buy on RachelAmphlett.com

 

Rachel Amphlett does it again in book 4 of the series, Hell to Pay. Crafting a sinister plot that Detective Kay Hunter will find all to personal. This series has become on of my favorites of the year in crime fiction. And for good reason–They’re awesome! Kay comes across an old adversary when she come across a traffic accident with links to a ruthless serial killer. Brewing at the same time is a mysterious drama related to Kay. Another great one!

Narrator Alison Campbell is a pleasure to listen to in every book. Very professional and skilled at conveying the emotions of the characters. She delivers an exceptional performance in every book. Way to Alison!

 

 

 

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About the Author: Rachel Amphlett

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

 

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Alison Campbell photo by Libby Christenson

 

 

Narrator Alison Campbell

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour Detective Kay Hunter Series: One To Watch by Rachel Amphlett

Detective Kay Hunter

 

 

Detective Kay Hunter and her colleagues are shocked by the vicious murder of a teenage girl at a private party in the Kentish countryside.

 

 

 

One to Watch Cover AUDIO

 

 

 

About Audiobook #3

 

Author: Rachel Amphlett

Narrator: Alison Campbell

Length: 7 hours 27 minutes

Publisher: Saxon Publishing⎮2017

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Series: Detective Kay Hunter, Book 3

Release date: Oct. 03, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: Sophie Whittaker shared a terrifying secret. Hours later, she was dead.

Detective Kay Hunter and her colleagues are shocked by the vicious murder of a teenage girl at a private party in the Kentish countryside.

A tangled web of dark secrets is exposed as twisted motives point to a history of greed and corruption within the tight-knit community.

Confronted by a growing number of suspects and her own enemies who are waging a vendetta against her, Kay makes a shocking discovery that will make her question her trust in everyone she knows.

One to Watch is a gripping murder mystery thriller, and the third in the Detective Kay Hunter series. A whodunit for fans of Jeffery Deaver, Peter James, David Baldacci, and James Patterson.

 

Buy Links for Audiobook #3

Buy on RachelAmphlett.com

 

 

 

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Rachel Amphlett’s Detective Kay Hunter series is simply brilliant. Whodunit, mystery, or crime fiction fans will be pleasantly surprised with her skill in plotting a crime with unique twists.  A very creative book to say the least.

Detective Kay Hunter and company must unravel a mysterious murder of a young teen at a party full of inebriated guests. An elitist church group, a strange pastor, bickering aristocrats, and young teens are involved in classic whodunit.

There’s also a running subplot since the beginning of book one that’ll keep you on your toes. Who is out to get Detective Kay Hunter? Someone is trying to sideline her every move and keep an eye on her. That makes things very interesting!

 

 

 

 

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About the Author: Rachel Amphlett

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

 

 

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Detective Kay Hunter

 

 

 

 

WILL TO LIVE IS THE SECOND BOOK IN A NEW CRIME THRILLER SERIES FEATURING KAY HUNTER — A DETECTIVE WITH A HIDDEN PAST AND AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE…

 

 

 

 

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ABOUT AUDIOBOOK #2

 

Author: Rachel Amphlett

Narrator: Alison Campbell

Length: 8 hours 15 minutes

Publisher: Saxon Publishing⎮2017

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Series: Detective Kay Hunter, Book 2

Release date: Oct. 12, 2017

 

Synopsis: Reputation is everything.

When a packed commuter train runs over a body on a stretch of track known to locals as “Suicide Mile”, it soon transpires that the man was a victim of a calculated murder.

As the investigation evolves and a pattern of murders is uncovered, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter realizes the railway’s recent reputation may be the work of a brutal serial killer.

With a backlog of cold cases to investigate and attempting to uncover who is behind a professional vendetta against her, Kay must keep one step ahead of both the killer and her own adversaries.

When a second murder takes place within a week of the first, she realizes the killer’s timetable has changed, and she’s running out of time to stop him….

Will to Live is the second book in a new crime thriller series featuring Kay Hunter – a detective with a hidden past and an uncertain future….

 

BUY LINKS FOR AUDIOBOOK #2

BUY ON RACHELAMPHLETT.COM

 

 

 

 

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I’m becoming an avid fan of Rachel Amphlett’s Detective Kay series. They all seem to play out like movies whenever I read them. Kay Hunter combined with sensational plots, horrific, yet fascinating crimes with a good dose of mystery make this series a winner.

I find Amphlett’s writing rather creative and refreshing in the midst of today’s crowded market, which is no easy feat believe me.

The first two books have wonderful beginning scenes that whet your appetite for the rest of the book. In Will to Live, a woman walking her dog discover a man laid across the railroad tracks unable to move and screaming for his life. Only a fence separates them, but the woman is elderly with a bad hip and unable to save him in time. Unfortunately the train is unable to stop in time killing the unknown man instantly with a sickening crunch. So Detective Kay hunter has to determine first who the man is and if it was a suicide or something more deliberate? And why? Great book!!

 

 

 

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: RACHEL AMPHLETT

 

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

 

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Audio Series Blog Tour: Scared to Death by Rachel Amphlett

Detective Kay Hunter

 

 

 

“If you want to see your daughter alive again, listen carefully.”

 

 

 

Scared to Death Cover AUDIO

 

 

 

About Audiobook #1

Author: Rachel Amphlett

Narrator: Alison Campbell

Length: 8 hours 27 minutes

Publisher: Saxon Publishing⎮2017

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Series: Detective Kay Hunter, Book 1

Release date: Oct. 2, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: “If you want to see your daughter alive again, listen carefully.”

When the body of a snatched schoolgirl is found in an abandoned biosciences building, the case is first treated as a kidnapping gone wrong.

But Detective Kay Hunter isn’t convinced, especially when a man is found dead with the ransom money still in his possession.

When a second schoolgirl is taken, Kay’s worst fears are realized.

With her career in jeopardy – desperate to conceal a disturbing secret, Kay’s hunt for the killer becomes a race against time before he claims another life.
For the killer, the game has only just begun….

Scared to Death is the first book in a new crime thriller series featuring Kay Hunter – a detective with a hidden past and an uncertain future….

If you like the Kim Stone series by Angela Marsons, Peter Robinson’s DCI Banks series and the Erika Foster series by Robert Bryndza, discover Rachel Amphlett’s new detective novels today.

 

Buy Links for Audiobook #1

Buy on RachelAmphlett.com

 

 

BOOK REVIEW

 

Rachel Amphlett has found the secret to create a thriller crime series. When I listened to this audiobook I got the sense that everything gels well together.  I’d say the author excels at portraying realistic crime scenes, fascinating plotting, with a unique killer. Which, in this crowded field is easier said than done.  A very solid book and balanced writing.

Narrator Alison Campbell has intriguing style of narration. Her accent is great with the ability to create various character voices.  Pacing is slower, yet lures you more into the story. Great job! I’m definitely looking forward continuing this series!

 

 

 

 

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About the Author: Rachel Amphlett

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

 

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Splendid Q&A with Author Fiona Cummins

 

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Fiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror showbusiness journalist and a graduate of the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course. Rattle, her debut novel, which sold at auction across Europe, is published in the US by Kensington. It has also been optioned for a TV series with scripts penned by The Grudge screenwriter Stephen Susco. Fiona lives in Essex, England with her family.

 

 

 

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INTERVIEW – FIONA CUMMINS

 
Compare your career as a journalist and your career now as a novelist.
In some ways, they’re two sides of the same coin. After 12 years on the Daily Mirror, I’m used to meeting deadlines and being edited. Both jobs shine a light on stories that have emotional resonance.

 
But publishing works so slowly compared to newspapers. In my old job, I’d write a news story and within a few hours it would have been sub-edited, laid out and printed. My first novel was published twenty one months after I signed my deal.

 

 

 

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Tell us about the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course and why you decided to attend.

 
I heard SJ Watson (Before I Go To Sleep) talking about it on the radio and I loved the sound of it. It was expensive and I’d just left my job, so I was worried we couldn’t afford it, especially as I had no idea whether I could write a full-length manuscript. But it gave me permission to take myself seriously as a writer. I also learned the importance of finishing what you’ve started.

 

 

Do you feel like you know your own writing process now?

 
Not really. Every book has a different feel about it. Rattle took multiple drafts to get right while The Collector took one. My third novel – I literally finished it about two hours ago – is quite complex and will need some more work, I think. But I have approached each of them in the same way. I don’t plot, it’s much more of an organic process. I have a rough idea of the shape of the story and that’s it. I don’t tend to start writing until I know the first line, and often, the last.

 

 

 

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In another interview you talked about talent.”Talent is all very well tenacity, self-belief, originality, and the ability to get the words on the page….” I love this definition of talent.

 
Describe your experience of tenacity and how this affects writers.

 
I think it’s about keeping the faith. Talent is important, but persistence is key. Novels are rejected for so many reasons, some of which have nothing to do with an ability to write well. An editor is unlikely to buy a book about a crime-fighting circus act if she bought one like it the week before. A literary agent might already have an author writing a novel about a crime-fighting circus act and wish to avoid a conflict of interest. The market may have seen several books featuring crime-fighting circus acts and have become saturated. The point is, we all need a healthy spoonful of good luck too, but if you give up, you won’t even get a chance to lick the spoon.

 

 

 

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Describe your experience of self-belief before after publishing your books.

 
If you don’t believe in yourself, no-one else will. It takes a lot of discipline to sit in front of a computer and write every day, to keep writing and polishing and editing. What keeps us going? Faith that we can do it. But not blind faith. It’s important to listen too. If your manuscript has been rejected by multiple agents multiple times, perhaps it’s time to think very carefully about where you might be going wrong and the best way to fix it.

 

 

 

Describe your experience of originality and how it can benefit writers.

 
Publishers are always looking for fresh voices, for the Next Big Thing. I enjoy books that do things a little differently, that have a distinctive narrative voice or approach their stories from an interesting angle. I try to do this with my own writing too.

 

 

 

original red grungy vintage stamp

 

 

 

 

Have you ever wanted to quit writing?

 
Never. I’ve been frustrated when I can’t make my stupid brain match my vision for a book, I’ve been beset by self-doubt, I’ve ridden the emotional rollercoaster of rejection and disappointment but why would I ever want to quit the best job in the world? Someone is paying me to sit in bed, wearing my pajamas, drinking tea, eating biscuits and making stuff up. You’ll have to prise my laptop from my cold, dead fingers.

 

 

How important is it to “Keep going?”

 
This was a regular refrain throughout the Faber Academy course and weirdly, this had never occurred to me. I made the mistake of thinking that if the first chapter wasn’t right, the book wasn’t right. We were encouraged to keep writing. First drafts can be worked upon, and often, the end informs the beginning.

 

 

 

 

never give up try again keep going

 

 

 

 

 

What are you working on now?

 
I have just finished my third novel. It is set on an ordinary street but some of the residents of The Avenue hide some very dark secrets indeed.

 

 

 

 

Thank you image

 

 

 

 

Fiona Cummins

Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

 

The Collector Fiona cummins