Q: Why are you, an American, and a Texan, writing about the UK and France? I heard that one should write about what one knows.
I fell in love with both countries at an early age and have traveled extensively in both. My BA from the University of Texas at Austin was in French, and I’ve lived in London and Anglesey, Wales. When I began thinking about my story of Peter Churchill, I tied it into another area of interest, and the subject of my PhD dissertation (Student Protest in England, France, and Germany 1960-1970). The first Peter Churchill mystery combines, England, Paris, student protest in Paris, and linguistics… all personal interests of mine. So, I do feel as though I know and love these areas so the writing felt natural.
Q: Is this a standalone or will there be other Peter Churchill books?
I am not published yet… and am keeping my fingers crossed that A Man of Twisted Words (working title) will find a home. I am hoping it will be part of a series called The Linguist… Peter Churchill linguistic mysteries. I’m at work on the second in the series now.
Many of the sites mentioned in the book are real places! Hartsford Abbey is a fictional estate (think Downton Abbey-esque estate) and Peter’s home in the St. John’s Wood area of London is on a fictional street but within St. John’s Wood, a charming, lovely area within London. More will be written about St. John’s Wood in my London section.
My parents and grandparents were great readers and going to bookstores/ library was a part of my growing up. Agatha Christie, Josephine Tey, Dorothy Sayers, P D James, Ruth Rendell, John Le Carré, Rex Stout, Ngaio Marsh, Patricia Highsmith, Dick Francis… all became strong influencers in my early years. Now, I have so many authors that I LOVE and follow and wait anxiously for the next book to appear that I couldn’t begin to make a list. Although I love biography, literary fiction, history, and nonfiction… I always turn to mysteries, thrillers, and suspense as my “go-to” reading for entertainment. It’s in my blood. My grandparents and parents started me on that course…and I continue!
Yes. Just keep writing. It’s slow going and feels like slogging through peanut butter at times. You feel as though you’ve revised over a jillion times, and yet, you revise again. You get critiques that wound, and praise that lifts you to the heavens. Just keep writing.
Now that Zoom has exploded and has made it possible to attend conferences, lectures, classes, and interactive “How-To” session… take advantage of them. If you can, go to the conferences now that Covid is permitting in-person, on-site conferencing, consulting, and pitching. Pitch. Gather your courage, and as soon as you have a polished draft, pluck up your courage and PITCH. Keep writing. Keep meeting others in the same position and others who have made it to where you want to be. Keep in mind… it’s a slow process. But… don’t give up. Keep reading. Read in your own genre and in others. Read guides on writing. And keep writing. It IS worthwhile.
I’ve only made it halfway up the mountain. I’m agented by the fabulous Paula Munier at the Talcott Notch Literary Agency… but am revising and hope to have the final revision in a month or so. I hope she’ll be able to find a publisher. In the meantime, the only thing I can do is: as Nike says, JUST DO IT. Keep writing. Keep reading. Keep learning. And keep your faith in yourself no matter what!