She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel,
The Deadly Dames.
Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.
Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, and was published July 2013.
Her latest book Karma and the Singing Frogs was published
21 September 2017
fascinating title originated?
Lizzie: Did you always want to write Carol?
Carol: As you know, Lizzie, I’m a Creative Writing teacher and try to encourage all my students to find their own voice and their own creative process. I keep telling them that there is no ‘right’ way, just the way that works for them. That said, for myself, when it comes to books, I’m a passionate advocate of ‘writing into the dark.’ I start with a scene in my head, almost like a snapshot. In The Terminal Velocity of Cats it was a Scene of Crimes Officer (Mia) in her van, grumbling about the repulsive things she has to transport, and then being called to another crime scene. I honestly had no idea what she was going to encounter there or who she was going to meet, just that it was something to do with cats. For Karma and the Singing Frogs, I had two snapshots: Mia in the office receiving a phone call from a person who has dialled the wrong number and is demanding pizza (another anecdote from my son) and a body in a disused 2nd World War air-raid shelter. I’ve heard many people say that their characters have taken over and I know what they mean but, for me, I think it must be my subconscious taking over. For example, in About the Children I had intended to kill a minor character but, as I reached the point of his death, I realised that would disrupt the thread of the main narrative, so he was given a reprieve. Of course, this method of writing involves a lot of stringent editing to get the right pace and remove all the clunky bits. Usually that involves a rigorous culling of words to get approximately 120,000 words down to 90,000 or less, but when there is more than one viewpoint character it can involve a great deal of restructuring too.
Carol: Probably the major challenge is to find enough time in a big chunk that I can immerse myself in the narrative. I need several days, preferably a few weeks. I can do most other things in short bursts – reviewing,
writing articles or papers, and editing, but the first creative process needs space to concentrate. The other challenge is to discipline myself not to think too much about the work in progress, or the work I’m about to start, or I’ll get bored and not write it at all. One of the main disadvantages of a writing process like mine is that you cannot be certain a book ‘has legs’ and will be a good 70,000 word read, although experience usually helps a writer to tell. I remember having a conversation with the late, great Julian Rathbone about when writers tend to stop writing and we decided that it was around the third chapter and around the seventh. If I get to approximately 20,000 words and I’m still going strong I’m pretty sure it’s going to be okay.
Participating Moderator for the History Mystery Panel, it would be a good plan if I could publish my first Victorian Murder Mystery, Strangers and Angels. It’s set just before Christmas, so I need to get it out by
December, even though I know it’s late for the Christmas market this year. I’m really excited about this book, which is set in a real place, the naval town of Gosport, and is centred around a real event, in 1850 two ships full of Turkish sailors came from the Ottoman Empire on a training mission. Many of the sailors died from cholera or accidents and, to honour them, Gosport has a very rare Muslim naval burial place within the Naval graveyard. Of course, being a crime writer, I had to take the poshest street in Gosport, The Crescent, and endow it with a Turkish sailor, a rebellious lady’s maid and a dead body.
I’m looking forward to writing the next Victorian Mystery in the series, although all I know at the moment is that it involves a spectral horseman and mesmerism.
Read a review of Carol’s book
The Fragility of Poppies