Tag Archives: interview

August Author Interview -Kate Hughes 

Apologies for the slightly late posting of this month’s author interview, what with being in the Lake District with the absolute worse phone signal and no wifi last week, it’s had to wait, but it is well worth waiting for, this month I’m really pleased to welcome Kate Hughes author of Home. You can read my review of Home here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/home-by-kate-hughes-review/

What was your background and how did you get into writing? 

I have been a primary school teacher for over twenty years and I’ve been writing in one form or another for most of that time! I used to run a drama club at my first school and to get round copyright issues, I used to write my own plays for them to perform. It always gives me a thrill to hear that the school still sometimes uses my scripts. So really I’ve always enjoyed writing but it wasn’t until my kids got a bit older that I decided I had a bit more time and maybe I should give it a serious go. I’d had an idea for quite a while which was based on my teaching experience so I started to put pen to paper (I’m old school!) and Mr Brown’s Suitcase was born.

What are your ambitions for your writing? 

As I’m self published my dream is for a ‘proper’ publisher to pick up my book and allow my books to reach a much wider audience. There’s only so much I can do as one individual in promoting my book and I think every writer wants to be read by as many people as possible. I want to go on and write many more books. I have so many ideas floating around!

Which writers inspire you? 

I think any writer who has had to really work at getting their books out there is an inspiration to me, so for that reason I would have to choose J K Rowling. Her writing journey is amazing and the fact that she didn’t give up is so important. From a stylistic point of view, Khaled Hosseini is brilliant. I read A Thousand Splendid Suns in three days as it had me gripped.

I love both of those authors too! How much research went into writing Home? 

We’ve lived with autism in our family for many years so I like to think I know a great deal about the condition. However I did do some research into how a meltdown feels from an autistic person’s point of view since my niece is non-verbal and can’t explain to us what she is going through. As regards to the decision to put your child into residential care, well since Home is based on my sister’s experiences, obviously I’ve been close to her and her daughter and have seen with my own eyes what happened and how it affected everyone. I did need to ask her about details of the process involved in the decision etc. and I also had quite a few conversations with her about her feelings at the time. I’m really grateful to her for sharing some very personal thoughts with me as I know it was painful for her to relive such a terrible time.
I have autism in my family too so I can completely appreciate how personal sharing those experiences can be. What are you working on at the moment?

I’m brainstorming ideas at the moment. I know it’s going to be in a school and it will focus on the lives of the staff there, some with secrets…

That sounds really intriguing! Which of your books did you enjoy writing the most? 

I think I will always have a soft spot for Mr Brown’s Suitcase since it was my first book. It was a story that had been in my head for so long, it was wonderful to actually get in down on paper.
What do you use to do your writing? Pen+paper, computer, typewriter etc. 
I often jot down ideas on paper as you can do that anywhere. When I feel ready, I’ll sit at the computer to write properly but I am quite a slow typist!

How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes? 

I probably should set myself a word target, but I actually just write when I feel like it – when I have time! I think if I was too strict with myself the enjoyment would go.
I’m exactly the same! What sort of publishing route did you choose and why? 
Well I did try the traditional route but unfortunately it seems to be more difficult getting into the world of publishing than the White House! So if I didn’t want to just forget about my writing and leave it in a folder on my computer forever then the only route left for me was self publishing. A friend of mine had done it and had a lot of success so I thought why not? I’ve been pleased with the results and the process has been more straightforward that I’d originally thought.
How do you market your books? What have been your marketing successes and failures? 

I use social media a lot, getting my friends to help spread the word. I think Facebook has been particularly good. I also contact book bloggers who are willing to champion self published authors. They can reach a much wider audience. I think it’s getting harder though as there is now a huge amount of self published books out there.

If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why? 
That’s really hard as there are so many authors that I admire. If I had to choose though I think it would have to be My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult as that is one of the few books which made me cry out loud. I thought about it for a while after I’d finished too – the sign of a very good book!
I love Jodi Picoult’s books too they all make me cry! What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews? 
I would be a liar if I said that I didn’t mind bad reviews. After all, if you’ve put your heart and soul into a book it feels like your baby by the end! However I realise that everyone has different views and some people may love my book while others may hate it and that’s fine. Fortunately I haven’t had a truly bad one yet. I like to think that I am strong enough to take constructive criticism as it will hopefully make my writing better. I think reviews are very important to a book’s success as I know how much importance I place on them before I buy a book for myself!
Thanks so much for joining me Kate, it’s been a pleasure to have you and I look forward to seeing more from you in the future! 

You can check out the latest updates from Kate here: 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kjhughes70
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katehbooks/?fref=ts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8343208.Kate_Hughes
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-Hughes/e/B00KW8F25I/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0


July Author Interview – Paula Cocozza 

This month I had the honour of interviewing the lovely Paula Cocozza, Paula is a writer for The Guardian and her debut novel How to Be Human was published on the 9th May this year. You can read my review here: http://ow.ly/Jfrw30dHARR

What was your background and how did you get into writing?

 Before I got into writing, I got into reading. From about the age of 11 I read everything I could get my hands on. Luckily I had a great little library – Goring library in Worthing – between school and home, so I’d stop off on my way back and stock up. I never knew what I wanted to be, but I knew I loved books, so I read English at university and after that decided that I wanted to write. When I graduated, it was 1994, and the World Cup was on. For a laugh I sent a letter to a football magazine asking if I could write for them. They said yes, and I ended up writing about football for the next five or six years. So I was writing from my first job, but I always had in my head the sense that I was not writing the thing I wanted to write. I just didn’t know what it was. From football writing I moved to fashion writing and eventually feature writing – I have worked at the Guardian now for more than ten years. Then a few years ago I realised I had to face up to the very private ambition I had always held – which was to write fiction. I have no idea why it took me so long to reach that point, but it did.
Football to Fashion to Features, you’ve done it all then. What are your ambitions for your writing? 

To keep doing it. To write the stories I know as truly as I can.

Which writers inspire you? 

I love Hilary Mantel, especially Wolf Hall and Giving Up The Ghost. There is such physicality in her prose. You can feel the body in the words. I find Ali Smith inspiring, because she seems to treat the blank page as a tremendous opportunity for fun. She has a playfulness with language that I really admire. I have a lot of admiration for Henry James, for the way he steps in and out of his characters’ minds so that narration, and writing, itself can seem sinister, transgressive. And recently I have found Elizabeth Strout very inspiring. I’m obsessed with her local repetitions – she writes sentences that if you took them to a creative writing workshop people would underline all the repetitions with some tut-tut remark in the margin, but Strout does it so cleverly. Some of her repetitions are heartbreaking.

I’ve actually just bought Wolf Hall on your recommendation, although I haven’t had chance to read it yet. How much research went into writing How to be Human? 

Well, I wanted to make sure that everything I wrote about the fox was realistic and accurate. I knew the relationship between Mary, my protagonist, and the fox would or could seem magical, so I wanted to give it a heavy realist ballast by making sure I knew what I was talking about. I watched endless videos of foxes on YouTube with a pencil in my hand. I read some books by people who had studied fox behaviour. I watched the foxes in my own garden. And I searched Twitter for people who love foxes and asked them to talk to me about them. The story really rose out of the details these people and experts all shared, but at a certain point I had to switch off all the research. I knew enough about foxes in general and needed to pay attention only to my Fox.

I love that you he is ‘your’ fox in the same way that he is Mary’s. What are you working on at the moment? 

I am writing a story about a woman who has lost a case of old love letters.

That sounds intriguing! Have you always wanted to write? How did you make the transition from feature writing for The Guardian to writing a novel? 

I wrote the novel while I was working at the Guardian (I still work there). So it has not been a transition so much as an overlap. Both jobs involve telling a story in the most appropriate and compelling way, so luckily I have not felt conflicted or in transition.

What do you use to do your writing? Pen+paper, computer, typewriter etc. 

I have a small Acer laptop. It was pretty cheap and I’m told by anyone who borrows it that it is annoyingly slow. It makes a whirring sound, and I quite enjoy the fact that I can hear it thinking. I keep different notepads on the go as well: one in which I write down any random idea connected to the work in progress. An ‘instant thought’ pad beside the computer where i scribble down thoughts I don’t want to lose, and a large A3 pad which is under the laptop and which I pull out at the start of each section or chapter, to scope out ideas and possibilities. Any excuse to make sure I have fully exploited the stationery opportunities!

It seems to be a thing for writers and readers alike to love stationary, I adore it! If you could write in another genre which would you choose to write? 

Well, I don’t feel that any genre is forbidden me. I could write in any one, and I am choosing the one I want to write in. I guess if I were to do something a little different I might choose fictional memoir, a children’s book or crime. None of those is a burning desire at this stage though!

How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes? 

I wrote How to be Human on Fridays and in whichever evenings I could nab in the week – basically stealing whatever time I could get. Now both my children are at school (they are aged six and nine), I also have Mondays during school hours. So Mondays and Fridays, plus evenings when I have the words and the time. I’m doing quite a bit of thinking at the moment, so I don’t set a word count, though I might do at a later stage if I catch myself dithering. For How to be Human, I had a three-day break for each of the two main drafts when I went away, locked myself up in a cottage in the middle of nowhere and wrote 10,000 words a time. So I know I can work quickly when I need to and when I’m ready.

Locked away in a cottage writing sounds like every writer’s perfect retreat! What sort of publishing route did you choose and why? 

I found an agent I really liked, and then she sent the book out on submission. I chose Hutchinson as my publisher because it was clear as soon as I met my editor (Jocasta Hamilton) that she really got – and loved – the book. So it was a choice based on personality and feeling a connection. I wanted the book to be published physically, not only digitally, and I wanted it to be in as many bookshops as possible.

I can completely get that, although I have a lot of admiration for self published authors I feel like If and when my book is ever published I want to see it in my local Waterstones. How do you market your books? What have been your marketing successes and failures? 

Oh crikey, this is the toughest question! If only I knew. There is a marketing and a publicity department at my publisher (Hutchinson is part of Penguin Random House), but an author does have to do a certain amount of publicity themselves. I enjoy using Twitter – it’s a fun way to connect with readers and booksellers. I am also a great believer in the power of a speculative letter, so I wrote to quite a few authors I admired when I had proofs of How to be Human, asking if I could send it to them. In return, there were a few embarrassing silences but also some lovely replies – including a brilliant endorsement from Hilary Mantel. 

I bet that was amazing with her being one of your favourite authors! If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why? 

I don’t think there is one: the book has to come from within, and that can only be true of the ones I write.

What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews? 

Interesting question! Shortly before my book was published, I interviewed Ross Raisin (for the Guardian), who told me that he never reads any reviews. His wife reads them for him.I thought I would do the same, and offered my daughter 50p a week to keep an eye on Goodreads! But the truth is I do look at them, albeit through the gaps between my fingers. Recently I interviewed Max Porter and he said he read as much as he could because he wanted to engage with the experience of publication as much as possible. I think I am somewhere in between. I definitely avoid looking on Goodreads before I go to bed but I’ve been lucky enough to have some brilliant reviews, in The Economist, The Times Literary Supplement, the Telegraph and Guardian among others. I guess they bring the book to broader notice, so in that sense they are important. But someone told me that a person on average needs to see or hear or read about a book three times before they’ll buy it, so I think reviews are probably just a few pieces of a pretty large and mysterious jigsaw.

Thank you so much Paula for taking the time out to be interviewed on my blog, it’s been an honour and a pleasure to have you! 

You can now buy Paula’s book How to Be Human at all good book stores! And if you’d like to hear more from Paula and get updates on what she’s doing next you can find her social media links below. 

Twitter: @CocozzaPaula [https://twitter.com/CocozzaPaula]

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paula.cocozza.7

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15449753.Paula_Cocozza
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Paula-Cocozza/e/B071HW5WJY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1495195035&sr=8-1

June Author Interview – Nicola Moriarty 

This month I have the pleasure of hosting Nicola Moriarty. Author of the wonderful The Fifth Letter which is also my recommended holiday read for 2017, and sister to authors Lianne and Jaclyn Moriarty. She is also author of three other novels; Captivation, Paper Chains and Free-Falling. You can read my review of The Fifth Letter here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/the-fifth-letter-by-nicola-moriarty-review/

So without further ado, let’s begin the interview, What was your background and how did you get into writing? 
 My background includes everything from swimming teacher to door-to-door sales person to advertising, marketing, waitressing, amateur theatre and everything in-between! But I grew up with a love of both reading and writing and my dream when I was in primary school was to become an author and illustrator of children’s books. I let go of that dream after realising I had none of the artistic talent required to illustrate books! Later on in life though, I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree with a Major in Writing and around that same time I started working on my first novel.

What are your ambitions for your writing? 

 I want to allow people to escape from the real world when they read my books, just for a little while. And then I want them to be left with that feel-good glow, even if it’s only for the rest of the day after they finish reading. Finally, I want them to be hungry for more words – and not necessarily just my words! 

That sounds like something you’ve experienced yourself when reading! Which writers inspire you? 

In no particular order (and by no means an exhaustive list!): Marian Keyes, Neil Gaiman, Enid Blyton, Wendy James, Roald Dahl, Diana Wynne Jones, Caroline Overington, Nick Hornby, Melanie La’Brooy, Jodi Picoult, Liane Moriarty and Jaclyn Moriarty.
Where did the idea come from for The Fifth Letter? It’s a very different take on the ‘usual’ sort of friendship novels. Did writing it involve much research? 

 I have a great group of friends that have been with me since high school (we’ve been in each other’s lives for more than 20 years now!) Obviously our friendships have had their ups and downs, but despite this, we’re all still very close and we have girls’ holidays away together every now and then. These holidays often result in lots of drinking and chatting way into the night and during these late night, wine-fueled conversations, all sorts of revelations from our past often come up. Sometimes we do argue or get frustrated with one another, but usually, we can move past any disagreements.

 I found myself wondering what would happen if something really serious, something really dark or sinister come up in one of these chats with my friends? What if it turned out that they were hiding secrets? That I didn’t actually know them as well as I thought I did?

 At the same time, I already had this completely random idea at the back of my mind of a group of friends swapping anonymous letters. I think originally I was actually envisioning a group of high school students doing it on a dare or as a bit of fun. The two ideas sort of merged together and from there, the story of a group of long-term female friends sharing secrets in anonymous letters was formed.

 I liked the concept of the feeling of helplessness you might feel if you read something heartbreaking in a letter and knew that one of your friends was hurting but you couldn’t help them because you didn’t know which friend it was.

 The story didn’t require a great deal of research, but I did have to find out a bit about certain infertility issues, plus I learned a little about abseiling and I asked the advice of some friends who are nurses to help determine the possible outcomes of a certain injury.

Are you working on anything new at the moment? 

 Yes, I’m working on my next novel, which is about parenting in general plus the divide between working mums, stay at home mums and women without children. It’s also about the judgement between parents and about the sometimes toxic influence of social media groups on women… and that’s all I can say at this stage without giving too much away!

 That sounds really interesting and I know I’ll definitely be giving it a read once it’s published! What do you use to do your writing? Pen+paper, computer, typewriter etc. 

 I mostly write on my laptop but I like to keep a little notepad and a pen on hand so I can jot down ideas that sometimes pop into my head. Pen and paper also sometimes comes in handy to do some timeline / plotting or character planning notes.

Would you ever consider writing in a different genre or is there a genre you wish you could write? 
 I did attempt to write a murder mystery / thriller once – but I made it far too complicated and I gave up after only 10,000 words. I’d love to write fantasy or adventure novels, but I’m not sure if I could pull it off!

There’s so many great books out there it is hard to pick and stick to a genre! How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes? 

Usually, at the start of a new novel, I just write when I can and when I’m feeling particularly creative. Then once I get into it (and especially once I’m getting closer to my next deadline), then I do often set myself word limits that I want to reach (either daily or weekly) to help me stay on track. Usually I find I have to leave the house to work – so I either go to a café or work in the office with my husband (we run a design business together). I also usually need music to write, preferably something like The Submarines or Group Love or Little Birdy.

 What sort of publishing route did you choose and why? 

 I sent my first manuscript off to a literary agent, who also represented my sister, Jaci. She was kind enough to pass it on to another agent – in order to avoid any conflict of interest. That agent then brokered my first book deal with Random House and she has represented me ever since. I’ve since moved on to HarperCollins here in Australia and the US and I’m with Penguin in the UK. The main reason for taking the traditional publishing route was simply because I wanted to give that a go first and I was lucky enough that it worked out for me. But I guess if that first agent hadn’t been interested I would have had a crack at the self-publishing path!

 If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why? 

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton. It’s just such a wonderfully magical book that I adored as a child and I’d love to have that entire world inside my head!

That’s my absolute favourite Enid Blyton I loved that book as a child and still do to this day! What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews? 
 Good reviews are THE BEST! To be honest, I don’t know how much a review would really influence a book’s success, all I know is that a good review about one of my own books can make my day and inspire me to write and cause my heart to sing! Bad reviews are something that I’m getting used to. I accept that they have to exist because it would be a boring world if everyone had the same opinion, but they can still cause your heart to hurt. Then again, sometimes they do push me to work harder!

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview with me Nicola and all the best for your writing in the future! 

If you want to see more from Nicola you can check out her social media pages and websites below: 

Website: http://www.nicolamoriarty.com.au

 Twitter: https://twitter.com/NikkiM3

 Facebook (author page not personal): https://www.facebook.com/NicolaMoriartyAuthor/

 Blog: http://www.nicolamoriarty.com.au/journal

 Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5347787.Nicola_Moriarty

Author Interview &a Giveaway – Chris Brookes 

I first met Chris at my book club around 3-4 years ago when he had just published his first book Entanglement of Fate. I went on to become his BETA reader for his next two books in the Elliott’s Register Mysteries Entanglement of Revenge and Entanglement of Deceit. 

Chris has very kindly offered my readers the opportunity to win a signed copy of the first book in the series Entanglement of Fate. All you have to do is follow me: @lifehasafunnywy and Chris @chrisbrookes2 and retweet the pinned tweet on my twitter page containing this interview. A winner will then be randomly selected on the 19th December. 

Read on for reviews of all three of Chris’ books along with a fantastic interview with the man himself. 



Entanglement of Fate is Chris’ first book inspired by the true story of Walter Stanford. Set in Sheffield in the 1900s the novel opens with an exciting police chase across the rooftops. The opening chapter is deliciously descriptive truly bringing the readers senses to life. The intial few chapters were quite hard to get into but they soon speeded up as the plot took many unexpected twists and turns. Pretty soon I couldn’t put it down! Wonderfully written and imaginative this is a story of dark crime and horror mingled in with drugs, prostitution and secrets. The subplot was very imaginative as well involving trips f far off countries, a struggle, out of body experiences and dabbles in the spirit world. In the end despite the many different layers of the story it was all brought together perfectly and despite its complex nature it was very easy to follow. I recommend this book to anyone who loves Historical Fiction, crime fiction or supernatural genres.



Funnily enough, this book actually has my face on the front! This was the first book I read as a BETA reader for Chris and I guess for my own reasons its my favourite of the trilogy. In EoR we return to Sheffield this time to 1916 and a pit disaster. Following a harrowing night, the next morning a seemingly ‘mad’ woman is found on a colliery spoil heap. Elliott and Tom feature once more as they explore the world and the power of the very rich and uncover a years old mystery and a world of hidden secrets and revenge. Just like in EoF there are many twists and turns to the plot and what you think you know is usually the opposite. But just like in the first book everything comes together in the end and leaves you reeling.


Entanglement of Deceit is the third and most recent of the Elliott’s Register Mysteries and this time juxtaposes between Sheffield and London where the Sharpe’s are now living. It’s been a year since the events in Entanglement of Revenge and the characters are in the throws of the First World War. Once more the characters are plunged into the middle of a mystery but this time espionage is the order of the day. With Chris’ usual cryptic style the book starts with a devestating twist and then goes back in time leaving you with no choice but to race through to the end to find out the truth. It’s a story of obsessive love and dangerous alliances. Engaging and interesting throughout. It’s a killer of a novel.



I caught up with Chris recently to see how things are now that book 3 is complete. The biggest question on my mind being whether this is the end or will we be seeing Elliott and Tom again?


So Chris, before we get to the burning questions. Why don’t you fill us in on your background and how you got into writing?

I started working as a theatre production manager in the 1980s and from there went on to produce many touring shows. Working in that environment brought me into contact with many talented and creative people, some of whom I ultimately got the chance to work with on a regular basis. One such person was director Mark Kenyon, who was also a screen writer and was responsible for feling my interest in writing. He taught me all the basics, and more, of character development, effective description and how to thread plots with anticipation and create cliff hangers. All of Mark’s teaching I still use today in my writing.


What are your ambitions for your writing?

Obviously I would be lying if I said I didn’t want my writing to bring me fame and fortune. But my many years in the industry have taught me that only the lucky few ever achieve anything beyond being recognised in their local village fete. As for being rich from writing – how much disappointment do you want? No, seriously my ambitions for writing are merely to continue to publish stories and scripts that I want to write and that people enjoy reading. I consider myself a storyteller more than a writer, if that makes sense. Long ago I learnt that my writing wasn’t about to dance in literary circles. There isn’t language with deep philosophical passages or hidden messages in my prose. When I sit down to write I do so with the aim of entertaining through strong characters engaged in twisting plots with differing layers of complexity, and often with an unexpected conclusion.


Which writers inspire you?

I admire many writers for the way they can craft their stories and draw the reader in. From the old school there is obviously Agatha Christie or Dorothy L Sayers, further back still, I love to read the Jacques Futrelle mysteries. I also have an affection for John Buchan’s work. Modern day authors I will happily read, include the likes of Stephen King, James Herbett, John Grisham and James Patterson.


How did you come up with the ideas for the Elliott’s Register Mysteries? What was your inspiration?

The idea actually found me – I think! About ten years ago my father-in-law Bill, then a church warden recounted a story to me about a couple who had approached him looking for the gravestone of a local man called Walter Greenway, a character who had supposedly led a most adventurous life during WW1. For reasons that later became obvious Walter’s grave couldn’t be found. However, Bill continued to do some research and, sure enough, he unearthed the tale of a most fascinating person along with sketchy events of his life. I was absolutely hooked and began doing my own research. The more I did the more I became immersed and wanted to tell Walter’s story. The by chance I came across the writings of Robert Holmes, who had written about his time spent as a police court missionary. I was amazed and delighted when I found references dedicated to detailling his actual encounter with Walter.

The mystery of both Walter and Robert Holmes consumed me and I found myself entangling facts with fiction. Suddenly, my idea born – to create a police court missionary character and write entanglement stories based on the experiences of people listed in his registers. And what better place to start than with Walter – this most intriguing man whose experiences stretched from Sheffield to the war zones of Mesopotamia and included many acts of heroism.


So the big question! What are you working on at the moment?

All sorts – from theatre scripts and script editing to a fourth story in the Entanglement series, which has a working title of Entanglement of Consequence. I am also wanting to write some more modern stores of suspense which have been swilling around in my head for a while. I have lots on my ‘to do’ writing list, but true to John Lennon’s words, “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”. Thankfully these days I tend to be able to just go with the flow.


Which of the three boks is your favourite? Was it harder or easier to write?

Good question! I guess the truth is that each book was my favourite at the time of writing it. They have all brought me very different emotions. Fate was my first novel so obviously holds a special place in my heart, Revenge I certainly enjoyed writing the most, Deceit was definitely the hardest to write and the most difficult to pull together at the end.


Who is your favourite characer from the books?

I’m fickle so it keeps changing. Sometimes, when I have a need to go back read passages from my books, I think yes, Elliott’s my favourite, but then another day I fall in love with Mary or Louise all over again and they become my favourites. Other days I want to have the sophistication of Tom or perhaps the daring and charm of Walter. One thing I can tell you you is that writing about the nastier more harrowing characters I find easiest to do. Probably because they are usually fairly one dimensional in their feelings.


What genre would you describe your books as belonging too?

I really wish I could give you a definite answer, it would save me a lot of time too when target marketing my audience. My books are being branded as historical mysteries, but they do have more than an element of romance running through them, as well as elements of adventure, suspense and usually a harrowing crime. Once a reviewer said of my books that they had an identity crisis. ‘It’s a mystery, no wait, I am a paranormal book.. no, I am a WWI drama… I’m the English patient… oh I am a mystery.’ Probably a fair assessment.


How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes?

Unless its script work, which is done to deadlines I usually write in phases. Sometimes I’m constantly on the keyboard and in the zone, which can result in around 50k words over a month. Other times, I lose interest and get easily distracted by just about everything. Setting myself a word target is akin to ignoring a cheesecake on the table in front of me – it doesn’t happen!


Why did you choose the self-publishing route and would you recommend it to other writers?

I’ve done both and they each have their merits. Ultimately though, as an unknown writer my experience of traditional publishers was that very little was actually delivered, so I still had to do most of my own publicity. Sales were also generally disappointing. That said, if one of my books had the commerical appeal of ‘The Girl on the Train’, I dare say it might have been different. In reality, most new authors will not get the opportunity to have a publisher anyway, therefore, they will be forced to go self published. This is no bad thing for the ones who are switched on and can work in co-operatives with other athors. There is a lot to be said for having total control over your books – setting your own pricing, cover design, exclusivity, etc. is quite liberating.


How do you market your books/ What have been your marketing successes and failures?

If you’re serious about writing, becoming your sole source of income, you need to learn fast how to market your book in a very competitive space. There are two self-publishing guru’s out there offering courses that I trust. Nick Stepehenson and Mark Dawsnon. The amount of knowlesge and proven techniques to sell your books in their courses and closed facebook groups is invaluable. However, it is not cheap at about $397 per course, but they are certainly worth considering. Marketing is all about learning from your peers what is and isn’t working. Personally, I am always trying multiple marketing techniques, I advocate making your first book free or creating a short story as your reader magnet for people to join your mailing list, then market your list once you’ve established trust and value. I also advertise with targeted facebook ads, do cross newsletter promotions with similar autors, do joint giveaways, to name but a few. The truth is, when it comes to getting your books discovered and selling them, it is a constant learning curve. Be prepared to be inventive.


If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why?

I guess I would have liked to have written The Birds by Frank Baker. Although it was Daphne Du Maurier’s 1952 short story that was officially adapted for the screen, it is felt that Baker’s novel more closely resembles Hitchcock’s movie. In particular I like the complexity of a fantasty where creatures are sent to deal with ‘marred’ humanity. Perhaps my biggest wish though would be to have been able to collaborate with the genius of Bernstein, Sondheim, Laurents and Robbins on the musical West Side Story.


What are your views on bad reviews?

Get used to them because you’ll always get a few. Of course it’s never nice to hear stinging critique of your ork but everybody has a right to express their views on your work if entered into the public domain. I do have a problem though, with the so called trolls who operate and leave bad reviews for the sheer hell of it. But my advice is to simply report it and then move on. Life is too short!

If you’d like to know more about Chris and his series of books you can reach him on the following social media sites: 

Website: http://www.chrisbrookes.info/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChrisBrookes2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Chris-Brookes-244234299051020/posts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7246479.Chris_Brookes

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chris-Brookes/e/B00EV6FSRE


Author Interview – Kathryn Croft

Welcome to my first monthly author interview. I’m really honoured to be welcoming Kathryn Croft author of five amazing thriller novels including the gripping While You Were Sleeping published by Bookouture on 16th November 2016.

I recently featured a review of Kathryn’s book on my site which can be found here: http://www.lifehasafunnyway.com/while-you-were-sleeping-by-kathryn-croft-review/

I caught up with Kathryn following the publication of While You Were Sleeping an understandably exciting time:


So, Kathryn, what was your background and how did you get into writing?

I have always loved writing and knew that one day I would have to write a novel. But I made several attempts before actually completing one. It was only after teaching secondary school English for six years that I knew I had to take the plunge and follow my dream.


What are your ambitions for your writing?

I’ve been so lucky to have achieved more than I could have imagined already but I would absolutely love to secure a film deal for any one of my books.


Which Writers inspire you?

Nikki French and Sophie Hannah were my early inspirations when I first started out. They are truly fantastic writers and storytellers.


How much research went into writing While You Were Sleeping?

As I know very little about police procedure, I researched what I would need to know about the crime and how it would be investigated.


What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently planning book 6 but its at the very early stages at the moment.


Which of your books did you enjoy writing the most?

I have loved writing all of my books but While You Were Sleeping really flowed for me. I also have a soft spot for The Stranger Within.


What do you use to do your writing?

I write notes by hand when I’m planning then type on the computer.


Would you ever write something outside of the thriller genre?

I wish I had the talent to write different genres but I’ll just have to leave that to the experts like Angela Marsons and Mel Sharratt!


How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes?

I usually write 1000 words every day, but actually for While You Were Sleeping I wrote 2000 words a day!


What sort of publishing route did you choose and why?

When I first started out, my goal was to secure a traditional publishing deal but things don’t always go exactly to plan. I managed to find my agent quickly but we couldn’t get a deal for my first novel, so we self-published on Amazon and did the same for the second book. It was only book 3 which got an amazing book deal with Bookouture. However, I really enjoyed self-publishing and I’m glad I had that experience.


How do you market your books? What have been your marketing successes and failures?

Marketing is not my strong point but thankfully my publishers are skilled at this and they have an amazing publicity expert, Kim Nash, and she does a wonderful job of getting my books out there. I do try to stay active on social media though, which is essential.


If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why?

The Handmaiden’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It’s one of my favourite books, and funnily enough it isn’t a thriller!


What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews?


I am extremely grateful to anyone who takes the time to write a review if they enjoyed my books. Everyone has the right to their opinion and not everybody will like every book, but I do think reviews never need to get personal!


If you’d like to hear more from Kathryn you can check out the following:



follow @katcroft on Twitter

visit authorkathryncroft on Facebook

search Kathryn Croft on Goodreads

check out her amazon authors page Kathryn Croft


Thank you so much to Kathryn for taking the time to answer my questions and permitting me to post our interview on my blog. If you want to be featured as next month’s author of the month then please get in touch via my contact me page or on twitter @lifehasafunnywy or facebook Life Has a Funny Way.


You can also currently snap up the ebook of While You Were Sleeping for 99p on Amazon so get it while you can!


Writing challenge day 17 – A Quote You Try To Live By 

It seems to become a pattern here where I write while waiting for interviews! I’m actually in a coffee shop today waiting to interview which is new to me but I always think the cliche of the writing juices flowing in a coffee shop are fairly accurate. 

So today’s writing challenge asks for a quote I try to live by. I have a very influential quote from The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. It’s said by one of the main characters Jace and I have it tattooed on my collar bone. 

  (An old photo from when my hair was black) 

For me the quote is really difficult to explain to me. It says ‘I am in the end what you made me’ and what it basically means to me is that no matter what you do or who you try to prove yourself too, people will always see and believe what they want to about you. 

I got it a few years ago when I was a bit of a good time girl. I went out partying a lot I had a lot of male friends and aqua untangles and it was instantly presumed that I must be sleeping with all of them. I wasn’t but it didn’t matter how much I protested or how much the guy denied it people still chose to believe it. There was a lot of sex-shaming that went on. The fact remaining that it wasn’t really anyone else’s business if I was doing what they said I was or not. So I decided to just stop caring. I carried on doing what I wanted and having a lot of fun with it and let them continue to believe what they wanted and I realised that the fun I was having going out and enjoying myself was definitely a better sort of fun than anybody who was having fun from talking about me was having.