Saturday, 19 January 2013

An Interview - Catriona King

Catriona King was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She trained as a Doctor, moving to London to live and work. She obtained her M.B.A. from Henley Management College in Oxfordshire , trained as a police Forensic Medical examiner  and worked in central London in General Practice, Community Paediatrics and Health Management and strategy. She worked closely with the Metropolitan Police on many occasions. In recent years, she has returned to live in Belfast.

She has written since childhood, fiction, fact and reporting.

‘A Limited Justice’ is her first novel. It follows Detective Chief Inspector Marc Craig and his team, through the streets of Belfast and Northern Ireland, in the hunt for the killer of three people.

‘The Grass Tattoo’ her second novel was released in December 2012. It follows lust, greed and foreign gang influences leading to murders in Belfast and further afield.

The third D.C.I. Craig novel ‘The Visitor’ will be released in March 2013 and a fourth novel is nearing completion.

What are you writing at the minute? 

I've just finished editing the third book in the D.C.I. Craig series called 'The Visitor' due out in March 2013. It's set in April 2013 and is about unusual murders set in the world of a fictional hospital in Northern Ireland. I've also completed the first draft of book four which is provisionally called 'The Waiting Room' set around the time of the June 2013 G8 summit being held in Northern Ireland this year. We're hoping to release that in late May 2013. I've also written a play which is being performed in Belfast in May.

Can you give us an idea of your typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

Well… if I'm lucky enough to have a full day free to write (I have a real job as well) then I'll start at 8 or 9 am and write until the natural light fades, somewhere between five pm in the Winter to seven pm in spring/summer. But I can only do that for three days in a row then I have to take a break for a couple of days or my head starts to hurt! :)

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I work in the real world to pay the mortgage, and I run a Belfast-based theatre company called The Studio which will be putting on two plays at the MAC in Belfast later this year. And I do all the normal things. Watch TV (crime or movies! especially anything with Viggo Mortensen or Michael Fassbender in them. Or directed by David Cronenberg. That being said a bit of Bruce Willis is fun too, especially the Die Hard movies) and meet friends for coffee, chat. Generally I just live life.

Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the genre fiction scene?

Yes, absolutely. Keep trying and don't be put off by rejections. A rejection just means that particular person didn't click with your book. Take on-board any advice they give you and take a long look at your book, and if you believe in their advice then redraft. But don't lose the core of your book or idea. Believe in yourself and trust the opinions of honest people you respect and then keep writing. There is no substitute for being a good writer except to write, practice, edit and redraft. It's hard work but it's worth it.

Which writers have impressed you this year?

Hilary Mantel without a doubt and Alifa Rifaat.

What are you reading right now?

Distant View of a Minaret by Alifa Rifaat. It's about the life of a woman in Egypt. Excellent. And I would tell everyone to look at the Perceval Press for surprising and truly wonderful books. It's a U.S. site but they ship everywhere. And support your local bookshops.

Plans for the future?

Perhaps write another play. And I'd love to script write, for TV or film and I'm thinking of ideas for a screenplay right now.

With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently?

Mmm.... That's an interesting question. I had an agent for a while and I do regret that, principally because it delayed everything and I spent ages just waiting for them to submit to people that they thought I should submit to. I left them and then weeks later read an article about a Belfast Author Rose McClelland who was with Crooked Cat Publishing, a new publisher setting up in Edinburgh. So I submitted directly to them and we clicked immediately. They are brilliant and very supportive.

Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

The agent, who shall remain nameless. I think also that publishing can be a very cliquey business and established publishers sometimes won't take a risk on first time authors or less well known writers. They are also often to take risks and just go for what they know sells, which will change in any given year e.g. the vogues for vampires, reality show based books, celebrity biogs. That's why Perceval Press is such an awesome organisation. They stretch people to open their eyes and look at things differently.  And genre bookshops like 'No Alibis' in Belfast which focuses on Crime and American studies are well worth a visit.

Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?

Just to say that I've deliberately set my detective series in post -troubles 2012 Belfast and onwards. I think people are tired hearing/reading about the Troubles (or maybe I am). The hero has no political or religious bias at all, and he's half-Italian to represent the other communities living in Northern Ireland. I wanted the books to belong to everyone and perhaps to do something positive to cross the divide (even if they are murder mysteries!) and I also wanted to showcase the beauty and good things like restaurants and countryside of Northern Ireland, as Morse does with Oxford and Rebus does with Edinburgh. Perhaps people will get to know Northern Ireland through the books and pay it a visit.

Thanks for interviewing me.

Thank you, Catriona King!

1 comment:

Nancy Jardine Author said...

I agree with you about the smaller publishers being more willing to take on new and exciting writers, Catriona- and Crooked Cat is definitely very supportive to its authors. Good to know that little bit more about you!