Each week, this month I will be featuring an interview with an indie writer of mystery/suspense. This week I am pleased to have as my guest, Caroline Farrell. She is an award winning author and screenwriter with a rich background to draw from in her work.
Hello, and thank you for agreeing to this interview.
- Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
CF: From Dublin, Ireland, I am the author of the novel, LADY BETH, just released with an official launch date set for May, 2017. I am also a filmmaker and have written several award-winning screenplays, with two of my short films produced, ADAM (2013) and the multi-award winning IN RIBBONS (2015). I am a member of the Writers Guild of Ireland, The Irish Writers Union and The Irish Film and Television Academy. Books, writing and storytelling have always been an essential element of my life and I worked as a Librarian for twenty years, with a BsEcon in Library & Information Studies. I also hold a Postgrad (Teaching) in Adult & Community Education. I am a regular blogger and a couple of years ago, I wrote a novel online, blogging chapters as I progressed, which resulted in the completion and publishing of my first novel, ARKYNE, STORY OF A VAMPIRE.
- Discuss your newest book.
CF: LADY BETH has been described as ‘compelling grit-lit. Set in Dublin, Beth Downes, seems like a quiet, unassuming woman. She is attractive, though careless in her appearance and works hard, living only for her teenage son, Jesse. When he dies suddenly following a drug-fuelled party with his girlfriend, a very different woman emerges, for she has been keeping secrets. Beth had always refused to tell Jesse who his father was, an issue that they fought about just before his death. Now, compounded by grief, guilt, regret and the need to find out the truth of who is responsible for her son’s death, she will journey full-circle, back to her old life, before Jesse, to a sordid past, and to the man she tried so desperately to forget.
- Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
CF: In my late teens, I used to scribble bits of stories and made some attempts at writing a novel, thankfully, long forgotten! I won a small prize in a ‘plot a novel’ competition when I was 19, and a major award for a short story some years later, but with a fulltime job and a family, it was only about 10 years ago that I began to give my writing serious attention.
- What are your current projects?
CF: I am working on a children’s novel, PIXER KNOWS, based on my award-winning screenplay of the same name. I also have plots drawn up for some more adult novels, and of course, now that LADY BETH is out, she is haunting me for a sequel!
- What books have most influenced your life?
CF: The first book that had a profound influence on me was When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson, a haunting tale about a lonely little girl and her imaginary, ghostly friend… I was 7 or 8 years old, and it was the first book I borrowed from the local library, a very grand Carnegie building filled with dark corners and possibilities. From the classics, as a teen, I devoured Wuthering Heights, Picture of Dorian Gray and Dracula…as well as every secondhand Agatha Christie novel I could get my hands on!
- What inspired you to write your first book?
CF: It was a gothic tale of horror, so I think I had to get my Stoker influence out somehow. I also went through a period of reading the novels of the wonderful author, Anne Rice, so my vampire, Lucius De Rais, is most definitely inspired by her wonderful blood-sucking characters!
- Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
CF: Beth is a complex character, which makes her so exciting to write about. On the outside, a dutiful mother, working hard, scrimping to get by and to give her only son the stable life and education she never had. But when she loses him… oh boy, we enter her dark and secret past, and learn the truth about ‘Lady’ and what she is capable of doing. That transformation was very challenging to write and I think, makes her a unique protagonist.
- Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
CF: I don’t set out to send messages through my writing. I trust my readers to form their own interpretation of the work and to take from it what they will.
- What is the hardest thing about writing?
CF: I don’t generally find writing hard, though first edits can be a curse! Thankfully, that’s what we pay editors the big bucks for! And knowing when to stop, when it’s done – that can be difficult too!
- What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
CF: Getting inside the heads of such troubled characters and striving for authenticity in their every motivation and action.
- What is the easiest thing about writing?
CF: More about time than a thing – it’s when I sit down to write. At that stage, the story has already formed in my head and it’s such an exciting time giving shape to the plot and life to the characters.
- What book are you reading now?
CF: I have just finished Shirley Jackson’s We have always lived in the Castle, and a collection of ghost stories from Kate Mosse. I am now reading Once We Sang Like Other Men, a stunning collection of short stories by John MacKenna.
- What is one random thing about you?
CF: When I was writing ARKYNE, STORY OF A VAMPIRE, there is a child’s blanket, a protection weave, featured, made by a white witch. So, while writing about it, I made one. It is four knitted squares, stitched together with embroidered images that depict the cradle to grave of the infant that the weave was made to protect.
What does your writing process look like?
CF: I am very lucky these days that I get to spend more time at my writing. Some days, I can write early in the morning, in the afternoon or late at night if I so choose. I don’t wait for the ‘muse’, but I don’t force it either. I write as it comes, and if I am out and about somewhere without paper and pen, I might look like I am day-dreaming, though I’m probably in the zone, filing away the words for later. I jot down notes and phrases in a notebook, but most of the work happens directly to the laptop.
- Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?
CF: No, but I do have the terrible habit of writing in bed. I’m sure it will take its toll on my back in years to come!
- Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
CF: Only when I can’t get to it fast enough! I also find those witching hour ‘eureka’ moments a challenge – getting up on a cold winter night to scribble down the nuggets before they fade away again with sleep.
- What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
CF: See family, friends and go out to the cinema, theatre and cultural events. I also love to travel.
- What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
CF: I’ve never been a fan of labels. I want to express my writing in the genres and formats that feel right for me, and whether I work on a screenplay, a novel, or a short story, in the end, I am a storyteller. I actually wrote a blog on this very topic: https://carolinefarrellwriter.com/2017/03/03/going-indie-and-why-not/
- How do you market your books?
CF: I use social media a lot! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. I have joined a lot of supportive groups on Facebook too, and find them useful for tips and encouragement. I also blog, which is a great way to connect with readers in a way that doesn’t always have to be direct marketing.
- Why did you choose this route?
CF: It’s important to have an author platform, and social media is a great way to connect with people, readers and writers. The tools are there if you learn how to use them. It’s also the quickest way to get a message out through online engagement.
- Which social network worked best for you?
CF: At the moment, Facebook. I have an author page and a separate page for Lady Beth, so there is traffic to both. My blog is also doing well.
- Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?
CF: I think I am too early in the indie author game to really know that yet. I am hoping I will alert enough to know when I do make mistakes and so can learn from them!
- Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
CF: Make sure that your cover design is the best it can be and try to be unique. There are too many book covers that look homemade out there… and too many that look similar to others!
- What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
CF: I would do something every day to market my book, even if it just to post a status update, write or update a press pack, post a positive review or endorsement that I have received, or write to someone I would like to review, endorse or share information on my book.
- What do you do to get book reviews?
CF: Keep my fingers crossed!! Seriously though, this is a tricky one. When someone tells me they have enjoyed my book, I do mention that it would be great if they could post a review on Amazon or Goodreads. I don’t push it though, and the review can go unwritten. Some readers are just not comfortable writing reviews, so you can’t force that issue.
- What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
CF: Read widely, write wisely, and with authenticity, and keep going. Hone your craft.
- How can readers discover more about you and you work?
My FACEBOOK Page: https://www.facebook.com/CarolineFarrellAuthor/
My TWITTER: https://twitter.com/CarolineAuthor
My WEBSITE: www.carolinefarrellwriter.com
Be sure to check back next week for another chat with mystery/suspense writer, Cynthia Miller.
Wanda DeHaven Pyle