Paula Harmon writes terrific books so many of you will know of her already (such as Murder Brittanica). I’m very glad to introduce Paula to LWOTW so we all have a chance to get to know a little more about her.
LWOTW: Welcome, Paula! Tell us, when did you write your first story?
Paula: The first I can remember was when I was about six or so. It was about the Clangers because I was a huge fan and fundamentally wanted to live in a world a lot more exciting than my own.
And the Clangers were always exciting, I agree! What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?
I have very vivid dreams and they often lead to stories if I can remember them long enough to write them down. I’m also a great day-dreamer and spend a lot of time wondering ‘what if…’ – What if I went somewhere different? What if that person is in disguise? What if I found another world behind that door? Having said that I do plan stories a bit – the longer ones that is.
That sounds like a great combination of writerly imagination and organisation. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?
I think getting wonderful feedback from readers and interacting with them at writers’ events. I have read from ‘Kindling’, ‘The Advent Calendar’ and ‘Murder Britannica’ and it’s fantastic when people respond with laughter or sighs or surprise in all the places you want them to. And it was great to be able to publish ‘The Cluttering Discombobulator’ in time to give it to my mother as an 80th birthday present. It is a tribute to my eccentric late father.
What are you most busy with at the moment?
I’m working on a sequel to ‘Murder Britannica’ which I hope to have out in 2019 if possible and on the fifth in the ‘Caster and Fleet’ Series. (By the time you read this, the fourth – ’The Case of the Masquerade Mob’ – will have been out a month.)
If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Write something regularly, even if it’s a couple of sentences or some dialogue – it keeps your writing muscles supple and you never know what it might lead to.
Great advice there! And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?
A deep wine red.
Thank you so much Paula for speaking with me this week.
Today we are speaking with English author Anne Coates, who writes crime thrillers featuring protagonist Hannah Weybridge, a single mother and freelance journalist who lives in South East London – three characteristics she shares with her creator. However Anne insists that the similarity ends there and that gripping fiction takes over in the novels…
LWOTW: Hello, Anne, lovely to meet you. Can you tell us when you wrote your first story?
Anne: I remember writing a poem when I was six or seven about a bumble bee and later, like many teens, carried on writing poetry before I moved on to short stories. The first one I had published was a “confession” story for a magazine I worked on. It was wonderful at the time but it took a few years before I had another story published.
A confession! That sounds interesting. What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?
Dreams are central to my writing life. I often think about my characters or the plot before I go to sleep which sometimes results in horrific nightmares as I write crime thrillers! However, my dreams often offer solutions and plot twists. I’m useless at planning in the early stages and like to let my imagination take over and go where it will. Once the first draft is complete I construct timelines and have a card for each chapter and character but even then I go with the imaginative flow.
That sounds like the best of both worlds – planning and pantsing. And it obviously brings about great results! What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?
Being published is a huge buzz but nothing beats having people enjoy my books. It’s such a joy than being at a non-book event when someone says how much they enjoyed a Hannah Weybridge book. Most recently it happened to me at Tessa Jowell’s Memorial Service!
That’s totally awesome, good on you. What a great feeling. Tell us, what are you most busy with at the moment?
I’m writing the fourth in the Hannah Weybridge series. Plus on the back burner I’ve been toying with a stand-alone which is very different.
I suspect that like many writers, you have quite a number of back burners, Anne. If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Read widely – not just your own genre – and write, write, write until you find your own voice. Then write some more.
And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?
That depends on my mood! Often yellow and red but never orange.
Very interesting! Thank you so much Anne for spending time with us on last Word of the Week.