Caroline is the author of The Last Goodbye and In a Moment which I reviewed last year, you can read my review here
1. Did you always want to write, did you write stories as a child?
I was a bookworm as a child and loved writing my own stories by ripping out pages of copybooks and stapling them all together, then doing an illustration for the cover. I also loved essay writing in secondary school but at the same time I never would have thought that I could write a book. It was one of those things you always think ‘other people’ do. I had an idea for a story a few years ago and just started writing it down. Ultimately I never finished that one but I was hooked. I realised how much I enjoyed the writing process and kept on at it in various ways writing stories, articles and also blogging. Then after my first child was born in 2009 I had the idea for ‘In a Moment’ and I was very fortunate to see it published in 2012.
2. Where you an avid reader as a child and who were your favourite authors?
Yes I think I read every Enid Blyton series possible, Two books that have stayed with me as brilliant reads were Marita Conlon Mckenna’s ‘Under the Hawthorne Tree’ and ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’ by Phillipa Pearce. Around the age of 11/12 it was onto Christopher Pike thrillers and Judy Blume, and then as a teenager I loved Virginia Andrews (probably not the most suitable) and Stephen King. I would also read whatever my mam had on her shelf at the time too.
I think books like ‘Under the Hawthorn tree’ were very influential on me helping to draw me in to the magic of reading. I remember literally holding my breath as I turned the pages and that’s why I think it’s so important for children to have similar experiences because if they do they will be life long readers.
3. Do you plan carefully or just see where the writing takes you?
I really, really wish I was a better planner. It catches me out on every book and I always say next time I will plan more first but I just can’t do it that way no matter how much I try. I will usually start with a rough plot outline and the main characters. I usually have the title as well which for me seems to be crucial to forming the story in my head. Personally speaking, I don’t really get to know the story until I get to the end of the first draft and then I go back and bring it all together.
4. Your writing style and the themes you explore remind me of Jodi Picoult. Did you set out to be an issue-led writer or do the characters come to you first?
No I didn’t actually but I can certainly see this is the route that I am going down and I’m happy with that as these are the books I like to read myself. My plots usually come about with a central issue or theme and then the characters usually come to me secondary. In general I am interested in back-story, the childhoods that shape the people we are today.
5. Who are your favourite authors now? favourite book this year?
As January is only fresh out of the box, I going to name a few of my favourite reads from last year:
Susan Stairs The Story of Before
John Boyne’s The House of Special Purpose
Donal Ryan The Spinning Heart
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
6. What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve started on my fourth book titled ‘My Sister’s Child’ but I have a bit of reworking of a storyline to do on my third book ‘Into The Night Sky’ which is due out in September so I will have to go back to that soon. I find it difficult to switch between projects/books though.
7. Do you have your own writing rituals? a place, a pen, that you come back to that helps get you started.
Not really, I tend to write whenever I can grab a few minutes between family life so I don’t have the luxury of being choosy. Often I write in coffee shops at weekends and I quite like that. The only ritual if you want to call it that is I do have a favourite notebook and when I think of an idea I like to put it there or if I want to thrash out a scene I will do it here. I’ve bought other notebooks since but I always come back to this one.
8. Best writing advice you ever received? and the top tips you would pass on to aspiring authors?
Don’t let the self-doubt hold you back, it’s normal to feel that everything you write is terrible but just keep going, it’s like walking a tight-rope don’t look down until you get to the end and then you have a draft to work with. I’ve quite a few half-finished books and the one thing they all have in common is self-doubt.
Also, I know people hear this a lot but it’s so true, books are very subjective, people like different things, so a no from one publisher/agent doesn’t mean that your work is not good.