I am thrilled skinny to have Angela Arney as my guest today. We met when I went to my first ever RNA local lunch; she made me so very welcome. Angela writes romances and crime, so she’s a girl after my own heart, and I love her answers – they make my questions come alive.
What inspired me to start writing? Nothing noble I’m afraid. The answer is money, money, money!! I read an article about a Mills and Boon writer who made shed loads of money, read one of her books and thought My God, I could do that! Like all things in life, luck played a part. I worked in a hospital so I wrote a sexy romance set in a hospital. I didn’t know Mills and Boon were looking to enlarge their medical romance series. My first effort was accepted, although I had to remove the word “breasts” from the first page, this was 1984 and things were much more modest. I can tell you one becomes very inventive when you want to write hot sexy scenes without using certain words! I wrote 14 then stopped as I got fed up with always having happy endings. Also I had found that I loved writing and wanted to broaden my horizon and not be tied to linear plots. I stopped writing for a few years and wrote for the theatre and directed plays and musicals which I Iove. Now, however, I’m writing full time, and loving that too.
Juggling time – yes when I first started writing I used to get up at 4.am and write as much of a chapter as I could before getting the kids up and out to school. I was a very bad typist, and these were the days before word processing, so there was a lot of tippex and words squeezed in on the page, anything to prevent changing the numbering! Then I’d take in a pile of manky looking pages and one of my secretaries would type it up properly. I never had to persuade them, they always wanted to, as I always used to dig myself into a hole at the end of a chapter and they always wanted to see the next instalment to see how I got out of it. A practice I still use. Always leave the reader wanting to get on to the next page! But of course there’s no need for secretaries these days, anyway I don’t work at anything except writing.
Character or plot driven? Both. I need one or two main characters against whom to pin the story around, and I have a rough, and I do mean rough, idea of the plot and how it will end. I always have the ending in my head, but I’m never sure how I’m going to get there. Once I’m into a book, characters do start to take on lives of their own and I follow. I’m afraid at this point they, the characters, become more real than the real people around me, and I become rather antisocial!
All the mainstream books I have written, and my one and only crime novel (I’ve nearly finished the second) have a strong woman as the central character. My men are good, kind, men but they are not the alpha male of the Mills and Boon books. Maybe I got them out of my system when I was writing Mills and Boon! It’s only that now I look back on what I’ve written that I realize that I always have a young strong woman, and an older woman, and they compliment each other. So in a tight corner I’d always rely on a woman rather than a man!!!
A guarantee of publication, how lovely! I’d write a deeply passionate, tragic and moving time slip novel, set in the medieval Italy when passions ran high and the Catholic church was a dominant force, and often very cruel. I have the place in my head, I know the time, and the names of the two women, one present day and one back in time, all I’ve got to do is sit down and write it. I will, one day.
Classic books I don’t have a problem with, particularly twentieth century American classics. I love them. It’s present day Literary books I have a problem with. They are often enormous, wordy and boring and I can’t think of one that I have finished; I read the reviews on the Literary pages and wonder if they are writing about the same book I am struggling to read, then give up!! Life is too short to waste time on a book you are not enjoying.
Favourite book? I like Kate Atkinson’s crime novels, she is a very good writer and her characters are so real, sometimes uncomfortably so.
My next project is a another crime novel using the same characters set in the same place. I thought this would be easy. It isn’t, because although I know what happened in the previous book I’ve got to take into account that my reader has probably not read the other book. So without being too laborious I’ve got to set the scene and the characters again, and remember all the secondary characters that inhabited the pages.
My last two books have been published by Hale, so are in Hardback and eBook format only at the moment. LEAVES BEFORE THE STORM set in the New Forest and spanning the time between 1939 and 1991, when war changed everyone’s lives. I was lucky to get a lovely review from the Historical Novel Society for that book, and a good review from Mystery People for the crime novel, Old Sins Long Memories. That’s set in the present day. A crime novel featuring a woman GP Dr Lizzie Browne and DCI Adam Maguire. They are not an item but their paths cross as the murders affect both of them. I’m sending the cover of the crime novel, from my other email address. I’m afraid I don’t have a website, I regally must get someone to do it, as I said before I’m not really very organized when comes to the 21st century!