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Author Interview – C. A. Asbrey

October 19, 2018
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CA Asbrey

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

It definitely lights a fire under me when I have a tale which wants to come out. I can sometime stay up until 3-4am if I have to finish a scene. At other times I can agonize over a phrase or sentence and before I know it the day has gone and I’ve only written a paragraph. I miss it when I can’t write.  

What is your writing Kryptonite

Emotional upset for sure. My last book took me a year to write as I was distracted by my husband being injured in an accident and my mother-in-law passing away from a long illness. I was very lucky to have a lovely mother-in-law. She is sorely missed.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I kinda do. I write under my married name and feature on social media under my maiden name for social interactions. I also write under initials. I don’t hide my gender, but it’s not immediately obvious when you look at the book cover.

The Innocents

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I’ve met many wonderful people on this journey and I’ve found them to be an incredibly generous and open community. I’d really encourage new writers to reach out and make contact. Not only will you find that they share resources, but you’ll probably make all kinds of new friends too. There are too many to mention but Kit Prate and Joanie Chevalier deserve a special mention. Both have been so supportive and inspiring to a brand new writer and have gone the extra mile in helping me cross over so many barriers. Kit introduced me to her publisher after reading my work, and helped me out of the slush pile. Joanie helped to point me towards the various groups which help a new writer with marketing and publicity. Not only that but she actually made up some advertising material and told me to ‘get my swag on.’ I was being far too Scottish—reticent and unwilling to look like I was bragging by saying my book was good. Both ladies have been incredible and I can’t thank them enough. Read their books and you’ll soon see how lucky I was to be assisted by them.

Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

‘The Innocents’ is definitely meant to be part of a larger body of work. It’s the first of a trilogy, but if people like them there’s plenty of scope to keep them going. I would still continue with each book being a self-contained mystery with the larger universe of the characters providing an over-arching connection between the books. The third book is written and at editing stage, but there are plenty of trials I can still put the characters through yet. 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

So far it’s been on editing. I’ve learned so much from every bit of feedback given to me and I they all go towards making me better writer. That said there’s been free advice from other writers. As a newcomer to the writing community I have found great generosity of spirit and so many people have shared some of their valuable time to help me. I’ll be very happy to pay that forward. On another note I have just spent some money on publicity. I’ve yet to see how that will work. That may be my new enthusiasm if it really pays off.   

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

That would be in my work as a young police officer. I learned that talking people down from spiraling emotions is a powerful tool in keeping people safe, and more potent than violence. I also learned that listening to detail is vital too. Noting the small things helped to push cases along in gathering evidence. I also learned the complex and intricate ways people use language to put you down and grab power in a situation. Understanding that really helps you stay in control of a situation. It’s useful for a writer to grasp that and be able to shift the dynamics in a scene through clever use of words.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

That would have to be ‘The Moonstone’ by Wilkie Collins. Not only is it considered the first proper detective novel in the English language, it also shows working class females as rounded characters instead of foils for male attention. It also is the first to introduce many of the elements we take for granted in mysteries such as red herrings, false suspects, the skilled investigator, and a final twist. Collins was actually vastly more popular than Dickens in his day, but is now largely forgotten in comparison

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? 

Lol, maybe a giant sloth? Or one of those dogs or cats which go viral for bumping into glass doors or falling off things.

Innocent-As-Sin-CAAsbrey-Web

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

‘The Innocents’ has been written and re-written to death. It’s probably in about its tenth incarnation. The second book in the trilogy was launched on 26th July and the third is at the editing stage before being submitted for publication. I have numerous other mysteries plotted. It all depends on public demand on whether or not I continue the series or write them as standalone mysteries.

What does literary success look like to you?

 To have people read and enjoy my stories. I make no pretence at literary genius or at writing anything worthy. I write stories which I hope people will enjoy.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? 

Copious amounts. ‘The Innocents’ has taken years of research into the work of the early Pinkertons, especially the female agents and the kind of work they did, including their methodologies. I research everything, even the stationary which was in use and the correct codes for the telegraph stations mentioned in the books. The forensics are fascinating to dig into too. You name it I researched it. Everything which influences every aspect of the stories. Abigail’s ability to disguise herself and alter her accent is taken directly from reports on the skills of the original female Pinkerton, Kate Warne. The theatrical make up and wigs were also true to the period. Stage make up had been primitive earlier in the century, but better stage lighting revealed a need for far better make up techniques, products, and prosthetics. Greasepaint was invented in the 1860s by Ludwig Leichner, building on the work of Karl Freidrich Baudius (1796–1860) in the 1850s. Lighting also improved costumes and acting techniques. It drove a desire for more natural representations in every area, simply because people could see the stage more clearly. Crepe hair went out and quality wigs came in. Colors were mixed to mimic skin tones and classes in their application were popular in the acting profession. Latex wasn’t invented until 1920, but prior to that rubber was moulded or even applied to a light fabric backing. When it was the right shape it was expertly painted to look exactly like a nose, dewlap, bald cap, or any other body part. I even researched whether someone with as much hair as the average Victorian woman could wear a short wig. The answer came from a young woman who enjoys cosplay – and she explains online how to pleat her long thick hair and coil it flat under the cap before putting the short wig on. It absolutely IS possible. I was really surprised to find how many really strange crimes and mass murders from the past seem to have been forgotten by all but a few. The past is littered with remarkable characters; honest and dishonest. There are cross-dressers, madmen, greedy people, selfish people, arrogant people, and clever people on both sides of the law. I was also conscious of how often history repeats itself and how themes come up time and time again as history stratifies the same issues and concerns time and time again. I was also impressed by the dedication of a few clever people who worked to catch criminals and close down their attempts to cover their tracks.

How many hours a day/week do you write? 

I have no set timetable. I wish I was that organised. Some days I write into the wee small hours, other times I can be researching and go down the rabbit hole following some amazing character or story. In the end all of it is productive and results in a story though. The actual process of writing is only the end of a longer mechanism. The invention has to come first.

How do you select the names of your characters?

As I write 19th century characters I try to keep them in period and maintain a sense of place. I’ll research popular or unusual names as well as using names of people I know if they’re appropriate. I’ve also been known to add really unusual names to my note as I come across them. Some are too good not to use.

What was your hardest scene to write?

The interrogation scene. I had to inject a sense of menace into it to make it work. I know it’s not usual to make your hero do bad things, but he’s a professional criminal and he has to find out who this mysterious woman is and how much danger the heroine poses to him. It disturbed people who initially saw this as a straight romance, which it isn’t. 

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

I only write mystery. I loved them right from the start because the reader can play along with the story. There are rules to writing a mystery, and the writer has to keep to them if the reader is to be able to play along. The story has to keep moving, all the clues need to be available and the plot needs to be convincing. The rules were set out in ‘The Detective Club’ which featured members such as Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, G. K. Chesterson, and E. C. Bentley. Not all the rules hold true today – for instance rule 5 states, “No Chinaman must figure in the story.” That I simply a ridiculous premise today. Agatha Christie broke rule 7 “The detective must not himself commit the crime” but they still provide a framework for the modern mystery writer. The method of murdering the victim must be a robust and feasible technique and not invented or spurious. The motive for murder in a whodunit should be personal, and not an act of war or part of a professional hit. That takes the killing into a different genre of writing. Many of the old rules say that a twin or a servant cannot be used as the murderer, but those rules have also been broken in modern writing and shown to be no longer relevant.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been playing with this story and universe since 2008. It looks like I’m a slow developer. I started writing seriously about two years ago and spent about a year being turned down by everyone. I acted on every bit of feedback and continually got my work reviewed and improved until it was polished enough to be accepted.

What inspires you?

Anything and everything. I can meet someone with an unusual name and I have to note it. I can read news story, read remarkable history, or find some amazing spy gadget. Somehow I piece them all together to form a mystery.  

How do you find or make time to write?

I found myself with enforced leisure after a serious accident.  Like many people I always wanted to write but life and family got in the way. I got hooked and wanted to get good enough to be taken seriously. I’m lucky to be in a position to dedicate time every day to writing. I look in awe at friends with families and job and wonder how they do it.   

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m editing the third of ‘The Innocents’ trilogy and have outlined some more mysteries I can have my characters solve if they are a success. I also have a completely separate mystery set in 19th century Edinburgh planned which I’m quite excited about starting.

What do your plans for future projects include?

Another mystery. No surprised there. I want to continue with the universe I created in ‘The Innocents’ as I think there are still a lot I can do with the characters. I also have a Gothic 19th century medical mystery set in Edinburgh in mind which is not related to that series.

Share a link to your author website.

Blog which includes things obscure and strange in the Victorian period     http://caasbrey.com/

Twitter  https://twitter.com/CAASBREY

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/mysteryscrivener/

Facebook group for The Innocents Mystery Series 

 https://www.facebook.com/groups/937572179738970/?ref=br_rs

Link to book https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BMHFXSJ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_dp_wTSSAb8J40Q9H

Bio:

Chris Asbrey has lived and worked all over the world in the Police Service, Civil Service, and private industry, working for the safety, legal rights, and security of the public. A life-changing injury meant a change of course into contract law and consumer protection for a department attached to the Home Office.    

In that role she produced magazine and newspaper articles based on consumer law and wrote guides for the Consumer Direct Website. She was Media Trained, by The Rank Organization, and acted as a consultant to the BBC’s One Show and Watchdog. She has also been interviewed on BBC radio answering questions on consumer law to the public.

She lives with her husband and two daft cats in Northamptonshire, England—for now. She’s moving to the beautiful medieval city of York.

 

 

Author Interview Kelly Charron

March 9, 2018
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Schmidt_Charron

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Usually writing energizes me. I absolutely love it. Even those moments when I’m exhausted from my day job, as soon as I force myself to dig in I’m so happy I did. I love to get lost in the worlds that I’ve created with characters that truly do surprise me.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

If you mean what can deter me from writing, it’s being so tired that I can’t properly focus or having a migraine, which I unfortunately get too often. Creatively, I’m lucky that I don’t really have anything, except on the rare occasion when I’ll get stuck on a plot point (usually unsure where to go next in the story), but it usually means that my character isn’t doing the right thing for the story. I usually talk it through with my amazing writer friends and my husband, who has quickly become the best person to talk through plot with (and he’s not even a writer).

  1. How does having friends who are also authors help you become a better writer?

We keep each other accountable, talk through all of our issues on and off the page, and root for each other. No one else fully understands the highs and lows in this business, so it’s so comforting to have them. We critique each other’s work and have become our own little family over the years. We joke about starting a writing commune.

  1. Do you want each book you write to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I have a few series on the go, but all my books share commonalities. I write gritty, dark stories that explore human motivation and how well you really know the people in your life. I have currently two books in The Pretty Wicked series published and I’m writing a YA witch urban fantasy that’s a ton of fun. The Wicked books can be read as stand-alone novels, though they do complement one another and the reader will get the full story arc if they read both. The YA series will be sequential and need to be read in order.

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I recently read two books that I think people would love but don’t really know about. UNEARTHLY THINGS by Michelle Gagnon and THE SACRED LIES OF MINNOW BLY by Stephanie Oaks. They happen to both be YA books but they will be loved by all if given the chance. Unearthly Things is a modern reimagining of Jane Eyre complete with a creepy, haunted mansion, a misplaced orphan, a turbulent love story and dangerous liaisons. It’s great. The Scared Lies of Minnow Bly was so beautifully and hauntingly written that I was actually angry when it ended. I don’t even want to say anything more as to not ruin it. Go look them up.

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have two finished but unpublished novels, one half-finished book, and I’m currently completely replotting and reworking another novel that was complete but I realized was all wrong.

Wicked Fallout

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I do a ton of research. I read articles and books as well as watch documentaries and movies on the subjects I’m interested in. I’ve even travel and tour places when I’m able. I interview experts in the different fields I’m looking into/studying. I usually do a lot of heavy research before the bulk of my writing starts, but it continues throughout the writing of the book as other things arise.

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write?

Typically, I try and write or research 4-5 days a week anywhere from 1-4 hours per day. I work Mondays to Fridays so I cram in what I can in the evenings and on weekends. I’m also trying to get more reading in because I find it helps my own words flow a bit easier. It’s like a primer.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

I often look at baby name websites, though sometimes I look up the meanings of names and their ancestry to make sure it fits the character. I will also jot interesting names down in the notes section on my phone when I hear them. I work at a school with 600 kids, so that also helps.

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I’m drawn to certain genres to read and by extension I want to write my own stories and create my own worlds in those genres. For me it’s thriller, horror, and urban fantasy. I love reading and watching some historical but refuse to research that much or I might delve into that. I’d love to write a gothic or Victorian horror—for that I might fall into the research hole.

I balance them by writing one at a time. I have friends that can write anywhere from two to five different books at once. I prefer to get lost in one world from start to finish. I get very focused so the only time I’ll veer off is if I’m editing, then I can split time writing something else.

  1. How long have you been writing?

I think this is year twelve or thirteen. Though I’ve had to take some huge breaks for various degrees I’ve gone back to school for. It’s difficult to keep up on school work and write for me.

  1. Share a link to your author website.

I love to connect with readers and writers. Here’s where you can find me:

Website: http://kellycharron.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KellyMCharron

Facebook: https://goo.gl/UNkH3g

Goodreads: https://goo.gl/rf4NlM

Pretty Wicked

13. What is Pretty Wicked about?

Pretty Wicked, is a mature YA novel that follows a fifteen-year-old girl named Ryann Wilkanson who has always known she’s a little different than most people. Early on she recognized that she had a darkness inside of her that she didn’t see in her friends or family members. She becomes obsessed with serial killers who she refers to as “The Greats” and decides that she wants to join their ranks. Lucky for Ryann, her father is a detective and she has made good use of her visits to the station, paying close attention so that she can get away with murder. In this series, Ryann is the protagonist while the detective hunting her, who also happens to be her father’s partner, is the antagonist.

14. What about the sequel, Wicked Fallout?

Wicked Fallout was a natural extension of the first book, though it takes place twelve years later and is classified as an adult novel. I didn’t feel ready to leave the characters and world behind and felt there was a lot more to the story that I wanted to explore including how possible it is for someone to change drastically as they mature, how well can you trust your own judgment and how all of your life’s experiences culminate to inform everything that you do. The book shares a point of view with Dr. Nancy Clafin, a forensic psychiatrist, who is hired by Ryann’s new and formidable defense team to evaluate her to determine if she should be released when new evidence comes to light.

Bio:

Kelly Charron is the author of YA and adult horror, psychological thrillers and urban fantasy novels. All with gritty, murderous inclinations and some moderate amounts of humor. She spends far too much time consuming true crime television (and chocolate) while trying to decide if yes, it was the husband, with the wrench, in the library. Kelly has a degree in English Literature as well as a Social Work degree. She has worked as a hairstylist, youth outreach worker and education assistant. She lives with her husband and cat, Moo Moo, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

 

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