Welcome to my weekly blog series – Author Interviews.
I love this series! Saturdays got a LOT better for me once I started interviewing some interesting and inspirational authors, over a virtual cuppa and biscuit.
This series is all about spreading writer love! It is about sharing literary journeys, writer learnings and author experiences. Speaking of sharing, this week I found a great quote which sums up what I am trying to do, on a Saturday, in my tiny blonde corner of the World Wide Web.
“Authors have to help each other out. It isn’t a competition; we’re all holding hands to cross the street here.”
― Marie Krepps
This week I am bubbling with literary excitement, as I am interviewing thriller author Sam Carrington! I have just read the prologue of her book Saving Sophie and I think I am going to have to clear my hectic social schedule.
I ADORE reading thrillers. As a literary thrill seeker I am looking for authors to take me on a tense and uncomfortable book journey. I love plot twists, scary feelings and the book hangover you get from a good psychological thriller. After a couple of days the book is usually still messing with my mind, I will be getting flashbacks from key scenes, dreaming about the characters and the literary tension created by the thriller won’t have left me. Yum!
So let me crack on with this interview. Please welcome Sam Carrington!
Hey Sam, please have a seat..
Tell my readers about yourself and the books you have written.
I live in Devon with my husband and three children. After working for the NHS for fifteen years, during which time I qualified as a nurse, I took a psychology degree and then decided I wanted a change of career. I went on to work for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator. My experiences within this field inspired my writing. After my dad died I re-evaluated things and I left the service to spend time with my family and to follow my dream of becoming a novelist. SAVING SOPHIE is my debut psychological thriller about a broken family, love, lies and obsession – and one tragic night that changes everything.
Mmmm.. that sounds right up my reading alley – love, lies and obsession! Sigh..
When did you write your current book?
The very early stages of writing Saving Sophie began in December 2014 with the novel being completed in the July of 2015.
Why did you become a writer?
I think it was always in the back of my mind as something I’d love to do. It was a very romantic notion to be able to write full-time and have a long, successful career making things up! In 2013 the opportunity to actually do something about it came about – so I ‘jumped ship’, leaving my job to pursue the dream.
What writing issues did you encounter along the way and how did you overcome them?
Trying to get my family on board with my writing being a career, not just a hobby was an initial problem. When you’re spending days and days at a laptop with no financial gain, things can seem a bit pointless to others! Having time to write was also an issue at times – being at home, therefore visible to everyone (and at everyone’s beck and call) was frustrating. To get around this I began telling people when I would be writing and in that time frame I wasn’t to be disturbed. I can’t say it always worked, and until the book was actually published I wasn’t validated as an author!
Did you go through any bad writing patches and what kept you going?
With my first attempt at a novel I did have weeks where I didn’t write at all. I remember one of those gaps being because I was away on holiday and another because I’d become obsessed with watching the Oscar Pistorius trial online! It made getting back into the swing of the story more difficult and obviously put my writing schedule back. I was part of an online writing group, though, so had a lot of support and encouragement to keep plodding away at the manuscript. There were times when I just had to be strict with myself and make myself sit down and write. The end goal of a completed 80k manuscript was one that kept me going. And coffee. A lot of coffee.
Are you a plotter or a ‘just write / see what happens?”
I’m a plotter. I begin with writing a synopsis and this acts as an initial plan. I will expand on this and add subplots so that it’s more detailed. I also jot down roughly what I need in each chapter – although I might only work on five or so chapters ahead at any one time.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
- Lying for a living.
- No, seriously, being able to write a story that others will read and hopefully enjoy is a privilege.
What is the worst thing about being a writer?
- Feelings of self-doubt is possibly the worst.
- Oh, and the other, more mundane things that come with the writing – like admin. Yuk!
Have you ever considered quitting?
There comes a time around 30k into my novels that I think I can’t do it. After I get over this ‘hump’ all is fine.
What does a typical writing day look like?
I try to get up between 6 and 7 a.m. and the first thing I need is coffee. Then I fire up the laptop and trawl through Facebook and Twitter while eating breakfast, replying to messages, tweeting and retweeting.
*Squeal* I am loving your social media breakfast! I must try this.
After this I might write a page or so on my current work-in-progress, but because I’m an edit-as-you-go writer I’ll go back over it. Sometimes I might even manage a whole chapter before reading back through it and tweaking. Although this makes writing a slower process, it does make editing quicker when the first draft of the novel is complete.
I have a few coffee and snack breaks and I’ll also stop writing around 2 p.m. to take the dogs for a walk.
I’ll either carry on writing when home, or do other writing-related things, like blog posts or research. I don’t tend to write in the evenings unless I’m nearing a deadline. Likewise, I don’t generally write at the weekends, spending time with the family instead. So, I’m afraid I don’t head the ‘write every day’ advice!
How do you go about researching your book?
For SAVING SOPHIE there were a few things I needed to know prior to writing – such as how agoraphobia affects sufferers, and I scoured the internet for information. However, a lot of research I do as I go along. There have been occasions when I’ve stopped writing to look something up, but I’m now trying to train myself to highlight it to check later, and keep writing. The flow is easily disrupted if you keep stopping to check facts.
What have been your 3 biggest writing learnings?
- You need to have bucket-loads of patience.
- You need perseverance and the ability to grow thick skin.
- You need a fabulous support network to help get you through the more challenging times of being a writer, and to share in the good times.
Do you have any advice for budding authors?
- There is SO much advice! Maybe my advice is to limit taking every bit you hear on board – it can become overwhelming and might actually hinder your creativity.
- I would say though – don’t leave big gaps between writing – keep the flow by trying to write regularly. I don’t write every day, but wouldn’t leave more than a few days between writing sessions now. (After learning the hard way that it’s difficult to pick up the pace if you’ve left your characters alone for too long).
Do you suffer from writer’s block and if so how do you overcome?
I do have moments of being ‘stuck’. I wouldn’t say it’s writer’s block though – just a part in the story where I’m lost and don’t know where I’m going. But I go back to my plan (synopsis) to see where I should be going, or, do some bullet points of things that need to be covered in the next chapter and start there.
Did you ever think about your next book whilst writing?
I hadn’t until I was partway through writing my second novel (to be published next September). For some reason, the idea for novel three kept popping into my mind. I made notes so that I wouldn’t forget my ideas, and once I’d done that I could focus on what I was writing for book 2.
What do you wear to write?
Right now I’m in my PJs…
There are days when I begin writing as soon as I get up, so I might make it until lunch time before remembering I haven’t showered and I’m still in them! (Delightful, eh?) Mostly though I just wear jeans and a shirt/jumper.
How can my readers read your books?
The ebook of Saving Sophie is widely available now – from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play, etc The paperback is out on 15th December and is available for pre-order from Amazon and can be bought online from many retailers. It will also be in supermarkets from the 15th December as well as some WHSmiths and Waterstones stores.
Oh my days – I enjoyed that! Thank you so much Sam.
This is what I am taking from this fab interview:
- Trying to get loved ones to support a writing passion is a challenge. I can totally relate to this.
- I have found that my ‘book writing hump’ is around 40k. Interesting how you have your ‘hump’ at around 30k. I forgot to ask whether you are like me and go a little strange during the ‘hump?’ All I can say is thank goodness for supportive writer friends and patient loved ones during the ‘book writing hump!’
- I think you raised a good point about not disrupting the writing flow.
- I am loving the PJ look and your honesty about finding yourself still in PJs at lunch.
- I see you have a blog and you are about to go on a blog tour. I have added a link here.
Ok Sam, I need to make a start on this wonderful book of yours…so if you can show yourself out🙂
If you would like to join me in my red chair please get in touch.
Next week Allie Potts joins me.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/79577679@N00/5448848999″>the chair in the attic</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>