I am so excited to have author Carol Wyer here on Booked up girl’s Fast Five Interviews! Carol, I absolutely, love, love, LOVE your DI Natalie Ward series, so thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions!
Diving straight into things…
Carol, could you start off by telling us a bit about yourself.
Crumbs, this probably the hardest question as I actually don’t like talking about myself – I’m always frightened I’ll sound pompous! I’m now a full-time writer who lives on windy hill in Staffordshire along with her long-suffering and aptly named husband, Mr Grumpy but my career started years ago in Morocco, where after a few years racing around the streets of Casablanca translating and teaching in companies and at language schools, I returned to the UK to run my own language company and also teach at a private school. Health problems caused to me to change direction in my late thirties and resulted in me becoming a personal trainer (a different sort of teaching) and during that time I also wrote children’s stories that taught French to youngsters. I actually began writing full-time for the adult market in 2009 when my son left home and I converted his bedroom into my office.
I had no idea that writing would become my life. It had been an ambition to get a book published but now, after writing twenty-one books, I wonder if I shouldn’t have started sooner!
Wow, you have had quite a varied background – I am so pleased your journey led you to writing!
Your new book is coming out next week, could you please tell us in a couple of sentences what The Dare is all about – I thought it was absolutely amazing by the way (my review will be up as part of the blog tour on 27th April, watch this space!)
In Uptown, a small friendly town, a teenage girl goes missing on her way home from school. When her body is found the next day, it marks the beginning of a spate of disappearances and Natalie Ward must find the killer before he finds Natalie’s daughter!
1. The Dare is book 3 in the DI Natalie Ward series – taking it back to the beginning, what was your inspiration for this series?
One cold December day in 2016, I sat in front of the log burner and jotted down ideas for the first three Natalie Ward books – with scary killers and devious twists – that was the beginning. Human psychology has always fascinated me. People can be so devious or frail and often childhood fashions who we become. I try to explore that side of it in my books and although I don’t want readers to feel pity for my murderers, I want them to understand the circumstances that have made them that way.
Each book hangs about in my mind for months. I’m always coming up with potential ideas. A newspaper article or a snippet of news, or even a comment, will trigger a plot that I’ll play about with for ages before I put pen to paper. I don’t sleep much and lie awake and run ideas through my head like dramas, or movies, until I feel I’m ready to pitch a plot.
I always try to give the main characters roles in each book too – each has a backstory that gradually comes out as the series progresses.
2. I absolutely love Natalie – How did you come up with her character? How would you describe her?
I wanted to write about a ‘normal’ detective, not one who was fighting the system, or who had personal issues, or who was a rebel. I wanted somebody that readers could associate with – an ordinary woman with a family and problems that many of us face. There was no one single catalyst or eureka moment, only characters that grew in my imagination and spoke to me (!) until I could work with them and then I set about writing each plot. Natalie is very much part of me now, as was Robyn Carter. I love writing the family scenes and the backstory with her and husband David who are struggling financially and emotionally following his gambling addiction. I like that she’s had an affair with a colleague and is human!
I suppose in many ways she is who I’d like to be – confident, practical and of course, she’s fiercely protective of her family. She doesn’t crack under pressure and she has a strong moral code.
3. I really enjoy books with some good relationship drama, something which you have judged perfectly. So how do you manage to pitch the crime and character equilibrium as you expand your storylines?
I honestly don’t know. I suppose it’s because each individual is very real to me and in my head, I see the book unfolding as if watching it on television that I’m mindful of making the book more than a thriller. It goes back to my interest in human nature. Plots are great and I enjoy writing them, but the characters give the book depth. Each one of mine has a backstory that I write down in a ‘character’ notebook. You, the readers, will probably never know about them, only what you read in the book, but there’s a wealth of knowledge about each of them in my notebook. To write even a few paragraphs about a character I need to know about their physical appearances down to their hair colour and style and whether or not they have any distinguishing feature, relationship status, likes, dislikes, and what they’re actually like as individuals etc. That way, they become easier to write.
4. Crime fiction is what you typically write and is obviously your passion, but what type of books do you actually read? Can you share a few books you’ve recently read?
I have an eclectic taste in literature born from reading just about every book in my local library! My go-to literature choice is invariably a thriller and especially dark Scandinavian. I have a TBR pile the size of Ben Nevis with The Taking of Annie Thorne, C.J. Tudor, The Thirst Jo Nesbo, The Stalker, Lars Kepler and The Chestnut Man, Soren Sviestrup as the top contenders. I haven’t had a chance to read a book for over a year! I know – terrible isn’t it? I’ve got five books out the year so it’s been impossible to find any time to do anything the than write – edit – repeat.
5. What’s next for you? I know you have a new DI Natalie Ward instalment in the works – Please tell me as much as you can about it! 🙂
Ooh, not sure I should. Well, it’s due out on September 5th and is utterly gripping. Ha! Seriously, I loved writing it. It begins with the shocking discovery of a young girl’s body in a house fire but she has no connection to the two house owners who also own a notorious nightclub in town – or does she? That’s it – no more teasing spoilers but I can say I’m incredibly excited about it and love the title for it!
Thank you for sharing, Carol … One last thing – which actress would you like to see play Natalie in a screen adaptation???
I’ve always imagined Nicola Walker and Stephen Mangan playing the lead roles of Natalie and David Ward. I think they’d both be perfect.
What a great choice! Now I’ll be picturing Nicola when I read your next book!