Friday, March 16, 2012
Writer Spotlight: Mel Sherratt
On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.
This week, I'm excited to welcome the very lovely ace blogger and now successful published author MEL SHERRATT into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight.
When did you first decide that you wanted to write?
I’m one of those people that have wanted to write for as long as I can remember. When I was twelve, I won a writing competition (the only one I’ve ever won). I was one of 20 children chosen from over 60,000 entries nationwide. I won an adventure holiday for me and a friend (I’ve been scared of water ever since having to roll in a canoe…). I was even honoured by Staffordshire County Council. It all went a bit down hill after that!
What interests you as a writer?
I think it’s the writing process itself. The way we can take an idea and make it into something so much more than it was in the first instance. How we start with as little as a sentence and create a whole book with characters, plots and subplots galore. How we get from a blank page to 100,000 words and over 400 pages. Where ideas come from. And how we discipline ourselves to keep going.
Oh, and book covers – I love looking at covers.
Do you have a typical writing day?
I’m extremely lucky that writing has become my day job, for the time being at least. So once I have the house to myself around 7.30am, the first couple of hours are spent on the settee with my laptop and a snoring dog by my side. I work best during those first couple of hours. If I’m mid draft, rewrite or edit, I’ll continue through until 4 o’clock-ish. If I’m near to the end of a draft, I can work on it from 7.30am until I go to bed, stopping only when I have to until it’s finished. I love that feeling when my characters don’t want to stop talking.
Alas, when I’m faffing around – I mean beginning a new book, like I am now – I aim to write any amount of words just to get me started!
What made you decide to write Taunting the Dead?
The idea came from watching news coverage of murder investigations. Neighbours and friends are often shown talking about a victim in a good light. I got to thinking what would happen if a murder took place and no one really cared for that person. This led me to thinking that these friends and family could be suspects. In the end, Taunting the Dead was set up with six people, all family and friends, that could have murdered the victim, Steph Ryder.
What are the best things about being a writer?
Getting emails from readers. I had one this week who said that Taunting the Dead should come with a sleep deprivation warning after keeping him awake until 3am. I’ve often sent emails to authors I’ve enjoyed reading. Now I know what it’s like to receive them – very special.
Also, having twitter as my virtual office. Every day is a riot but without cakes, well most of the time without cakes. And doing what I love is another. Yes, it’s hard work and often I’m tearing my hair out as I get the words down. But no one says fun should be easy. The main thing is that I enjoy it.
And the worst?
That flipping thing called self-doubt. It sits on my shoulder, lurks in every dark corner and always nabs me when I least expect it. I try poking it in the eye with a heel every now and then but it always seems to come back…
Poor reviews aren’t nice either. Taunting the Dead is a controversial book. The main character does something that most readers can sympathise with because I feel it makes her human. But some readers have said they don’t believe she would act like that or even that she shouldn’t have acted like that. It’s good to evoke controversy, though.
Another point is that half my book is based around selfish, nasty characters and the effects that their behaviour has upon them, and the other half is police procedural. Some readers haven’t liked the fusion of both. So for many the beginning – pre-murder – was too slow but for others they preferred that part to the following police investigation.
Tell me what you're working on now.
I’m writing the first draft of the next novel involving my main character, Detective Sergeant Allie Shenton. It’s called Follow the Leader and will be predominantly about a serial killer. It’s especially challenging for me as there are six murders in this one and again, everyone knows everyone, so it’s all secrets and lies.
You’ve been interviewing authors on your fab blog, High Heels and Book Deals for the past two years. How does it feel to be on the other side of the questions now?
It literally seems like the shoe is on the other foot. I’ve often wanted to be asked to do an interview, especially when I’ve seen how much time and effort a particular author has put into it for me. So it’s great to get ‘out there’ and do some of my own.
What would be your top three tips for aspiring writers?
I’m not one who can write a set amount of words per day but I always aim to finish what I’ve started. So if you’re writing a book, don’t give up until you’ve got to The End. That way, I think you always have something to work on and improve, rather than a blank page every time you start a new idea.
I’m going to pinch a tip from an author I know, David Jackson. He’s a crime thriller writer too and he always says ‘write what you read’ as well as ‘write what you know’. When I started to write crime thrillers, even though it wasn’t a genre I read at the time, I read lots of them and learned from the masters and mistresses. I don’t think you ever take away a part of their writing but I do believe you create your own style by doing this. And lots of ideas of your own too.
Mostly, enjoy it. It’s so easy to get hung up on the whole business side of writing. If you enjoy writing, your reader will know because it will be seamless.
Do you have a dream project you'd love to write?
Can I have two? Well, you wouldn’t expect anything else, really, would you? I do have the gift of the gab! I’ve had an idea for a psychological thriller in the back of my mind for a while so I might put a few things down for that shortly. I’d also love to be included in an anthology of top crime authors – well, you did say dream project!
Anything else you’d like to say?
Thank you for having me!
Thanks so much to Mel for braving the Writer Spotlight! You can visit her website here and follow her on twitter @WriterMels. Mel is represented by Curtis Brown.
Would you like to feature in a forthcoming Writer Spotlight? I'm looking for both aspiring and published authors to take part. If this sounds like you, drop me a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org.