Welcome to the next author interview… I have the great pleasure to introduce a very talented author, Pat McDonald. If you like intelligent crime fiction, this trilogy will have you hooked from book one. Imaginative characters and absorbing plot lines. If any of my production company chums are reading this, I think these would make excellent TV drama… But enough high praise, let me allow Pat to tell things in her own words:
- Your background is law enforcement. At what point in your career did you start thinking about writing a crime novel?
Writing is all I have ever wanted to do from when I wrote poetry and short stories as a teenager, it was my ambition to return to creative writing when I finished my career of which the latter part was spent in law enforcement. After seventeen years immersed in that arena it was inevitable that I should begin there although it wasn’t a conscious decision, it just happened. Perhaps it was a need to download much of what my head contained and then leave it behind.
I had a wealth of experience that I have used as a framework in which to allow my imagination to run riot. Inspiration for my books comes from my observations of the real world, which I think is reflected in them. The world is full of inexplicable phenomena and extraordinary people and provides me with sufficient material to allow my imagination to take it and ask ‘what if’ in those circumstances this was to happen. Just a twist can take something ordinary and make you wonder at it. I do think, however, that I have some deep recesses of my mind where lurks a murky pool of things to draw upon!
- You’re now on your third novel, do you find it is becoming easier to write or harder, and why?
I only intended to write one crime novel and as a ‘free flow’ writer my stories just pour out, so much so that I find it hard to end something I’m doing. This is why I have begun my crime fiction with a trilogy. I usually find I have more than one ending which leaves me with a cliff-hanger and a carryover plot – it is after all a potential real life series and real life doesn’t neatly fit most of our everyday time lines. I did manage to end the trilogy, although it would lend itself to a series if ever I chose to return to it. I would say that writing has perhaps become easier, although I would prefer ‘better’, sufficiently to try out something else.
I haven’t taken any of the actual crimes from my experiences, but rather the setting and the process of law enforcement. However, I deliberately set it earlier than present day because some of the things I write about would not be allowed to happen today. My imagination can take a potential view of the ‘ordinary’ and turn it into something else entirely. Although my books are set within an imaginary police force, they also encompass the lives of the officers involved and the villains they have to deal with; sometimes the two become so fused that it is hard to separate them. My books are fiction with a real edge. They present characters and scenarios that I hope reflect reality, but the kind that doesn’t end in happy ever after – well real life doesn’t does it?
- If you couldn’t write in the crime genre, what would be your next choice and why?
My current work in progress is a move away from crime to a different genre. My Y.A paranormal thriller Breaking Free is about stalking and is set in the North of Wales, UK. It has a hint of historical W.W 1 drama that is surprisingly haunting! One of the characters in Getting Even escapes from the clutches of the bad Detective Chief Inspector and although he pursues her she drops out of the plot. I wanted to find out what happened to her, so I pick up the story when she returns to a small but close community in North Wales. I wanted to explore how someone could ‘lose’ themselves and to examine further about stalking and its outcome. I have recently found my ending to this story and am working the plot towards that end.
- What are the elements of writing you love and dislike the most?
I am a ‘free flow’ writer and as such do not plan my books. I sit with a blank page and allow the stories to develop as I write. I found this method surprising when I began, but love it and believe it works for me as a creative story teller. When I begin to write the next chapter or sub-chapter I have no idea what I am about to write. I love more than anything developing the characters that I create and imagine myself as each one whilst writing their particular chapter or sub-chapter. I love ‘oddball’ characters; describing and developing them gives me great pleasure. P.C Hugo Bott is a particular favourite and the most unlikely police officer who enters at Rogue Seed; he is a legend in his own police force for being in the right place at the right time and despite his communication limitations is a successful crime fighter or is he? I believe that most writers dislike the editing process the most; getting a book polished sufficiently for publication I found the hardest part of being a writer. But then my first book Getting Even is a lengthy one. I did however improve as the trilogy progressed and learnt how to reduce that, which may be why after publishing Boxed Off in December 2014 even that process began to become enjoyable!
- If you could offer one piece of advice to an aspiring writer, or someone considering writing a novel, what would that be?
I think that every writer will be different and I do have my own way of doing things. I would and do advise writers just to write. I tell them to stop trying to conform to a preconceived set of ‘rules for writers’, which I believe stifles creativity. Let it flow as you think it, give reign to your thoughts, ideas and imagination. I do speak out about people who write books and articles on how you should write, what words you shouldn’t use and a whole gamut of advice on the destruction of the adverb, because I believe it frustrates and destroys genuine expression. Think about your story and be true to it; you conceived it because you wanted to tell it, so concentrate on how you imagine it could proceed and end. Your style and way of writing is as valid as anyone else’s. If we all conformed to the one set of rules it would be like writing to a formula – how boring would that be for literature? Ask yourself though, is there more than one ending? There is nothing worse than reading a book and finding yourself disappointed by the ending. But at the end of the day it is YOUR story, so be true to yourself – how would you want it to end with a ‘bang’ or a ‘whimper’?
British Crime Author Pat McDonald lives in a rural part of the Midlands, United Kingdom. She previously worked as a researcher, project manager and programme manager in the NHS and in law enforcement and the criminal justice system. She is now a full time novelist. Her crime trilogy (nicknamed ‘The Blue Woods Trilogy’ because of an over active imagination at disposal of bodies!) consists of Getting Even: Revenge is best served cold, Rogue Seed and newly published Boxed Off.
Author Website: http://t.co/ImQ9ZT2ZbZ
Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pat-Mcdonald/502374626484358?ref=bookmarks
Twitter: Pat McDonald @issyblack
* * *
ANTHONY DONNELLY blogs about all things writing, inspirational, and motivational. He has published a number of books for children and adults. His latest book, a short, inspirational parable THE SHEPHERD is currently climbing up the Amazon charts, and is available in Kindle or paperback. When not sat at his keyboard writing, he can be found in Costa Rica, North America, or somewhere in Europe motivating and coaching individuals and groups in self-development techniques and life-balance. Most recently you can see him back on the sets of films and in front of the modelling camera again.