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Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:38
The Book Depository: What gave you the idea for Without Warning Carol?
Carol Smith: I breakfasted with my publisher’s Sales and Marketing team and they talked about the horrors of the Tube, especially at rush hour. They all told anecdotes and I scribbled notes. The perfect subject ... I was finishing the synopsis when I got the news that the 7/7 bombs had gone off. Almost all of my books have involved a similar weird coincidence.
BD: How long did it take you to write your novel?
CS: Approximately nine months; I produce one a year. Three months planning and doing research; nine for the actual writing.
BD: How do you write? Longhand or directly onto a computer, straight off or with lots and lots of editing?
CS: Longhand notes then straight on to the computer. Then I polish and polish and polish.
BD: What do you do when you are not writing?
MS: Very little since I write eight hours a day. I read a lot and listen to music and socialise with my friends. I’m a very keen cook.
BD: Do you have an idea in your mind of your "ideal" reader? Do you write specifically for them?
CS: Yes, since this is my tenth novel and I get regular letters from genuine fans, I have a pretty good idea of who they are. But, since I am keen that my readership should expand, I try to widen my range with each book. I particularly love getting feedback from male readers.
BD: What are you working on now?
CS: A chiller about a female stalker, relentlessly on the trail of one man. The idea seemed to come out of nowhere though the subject, again, has been much in the news after I wrote my synopsis.
BD: Who is your favourite writer? What is/are your favourite book(s)?
MS: I have always been a voracious reader so it’s hard to select particular favourites. Over the years I’ve been influenced by many. My current favourites include Ian McEwan, for his creepy content and taut clean style, Anne Tyler and Carol Shields, both marvellous writers and Patricia Highsmith, who is my principal role model. Her Ripley novels, now immortalised on film, particularly inspire me. Last summer, between books, I reread the whole of her output alongside her biography (Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith). A fascinating and instructive exercise though my own books are not as dark.
BD: Do you have any tips for the aspiring writer!?
CS: Write at least one sentence each day; don’t get it right, get it written. Study the market to see what isn’t selling and pay attention to professional advice. If you can, get an agent, there are loads of them around, but make sure they “get” what you are trying to do. An agent is only ever as good as the writers he/she represents.
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