I'm ending the week with another fab journey to publication author interview today - and why the heck not, right!
Check it out...
A statistics nerd by day, Charlotte Graham loves spending her free time writing and reading cozy mysteries. SCONES AND SCOUNDRELS is the first book in her Scheming Spires Mystery Series, and is based loosely upon her own time as a student at Oxford University. When she’s not reading or writing, Charlotte enjoys running — whether in a race or after her toddler, it just depends on the day. She enjoys spending time with her husband, toddler, and rescue chihuahua Piglet. Charlotte is thrilled to be expecting a little girl later this year.
Georgina Strange is just like any other Oxford University fresher. She suffers from imposter syndrome, loathes exams, and doesn’t know what she’ll do after graduation. Oh, one small difference: Georgina is 55 years young. Laid off and recently widowed, Georgina trades her posh London digs for a dormitory in the fabled City of Dreaming Spires. But trouble abounds when Georgina spars with a most disagreeable fellow student, whose enemies include academic rivals and jilted lovers. And when Georgina discovers the obnoxious ne’er-do-well choked to death with one of her homemade scones, she finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. The only suspect without an alibi, Georgina vows to clear her name by finding the culprit herself. Georgina’s Oxford career and freedom are on the line, and, if the killer has anything to say about it, so is her life.
Who are you and what do you write?
I’m Charlotte Graham, and I write cozy mysteries. Cozies are a subgenre of mystery books that are clean, show little violence, and end with a happy ending. They are the most family-friendly of mystery books and are intended to make the reader feel, well, cozy.
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
Oh goodness, a very long time ago indeed. I’m 35 now, and I began writing short stories when I was 7. My mom, who was also a writer, sent me to children’s writing workshops every year. My first “book” was called The Girl from Jupiter, which was about a humanoid alien who comes to earth and switches places with an earthling girl.
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
It’s been far from linear, I can tell you that much. In addition to writing, I’ve also always had a head for numbers, so I pursued my bachelors and masters degrees in Economics, and my entire working career has been in statistics. I abandoned creative writing for an embarrassingly long amount of time, then started it back again in 2012, at which point I began writing a YA fantasy book (that is still in first draft form, let it be noted). I struggled immensely with things like plotting, pacing, characterization, world-building — basically, everything! So I attended a couple of writing workshops led by famous published authors, and I learned so much. Between those workshops and continued practice, I finally got to a place where I felt competent as a novelist. When the idea for my debut cozy mystery came to me, it was like all these puzzle pieces finally slotted together after years of struggle. So writing it was actually fairly quick and painless, but I attribute that ease to all the struggle of years prior.
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
I’d say the hardest part is overcoming my imposter syndrome, which I think is a pretty common experience for writers. I’m still getting used to calling myself a published author. It feels so surreal! The most enjoyable experience for me is plotting out the books within my mystery series. Cozy mysteries are almost always written as ongoing series, but unlike other genres, the books are intended to be accessible as standalone reads or out of order. So I really love crafting a good hook and puzzle for each book.
Would you go back and change anything?
I would go back to the early 2010s and push myself harder to just write. I’ve read before that you just have to write through the crap in order to get to the good stuff, and I wish I had pushed myself to write through the crap sooner.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time? And 10? Or, what are your plans for the future?
I would ideally like my mystery series to have loyal fans who really connect with my characters. I can’t say I care terribly much about making money (although of course that would be nice!!!). What I really want is to entertain people and for my readers to feel invested in my characters’ lives. Hopefully within 5-10 years I’ll have the entire series out. I also want to go back to try writing fantasy again, although it’s so different from mysteries that I’m nervous.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
Don’t worry too much if your writing isn’t technically perfect. Damn good storytelling is far more important than occasional awkward sentences or rudimentary writing technique.
And, most importantly...
Ketchup or Mayo? Ketchup all the way! I put it on everything.
Night or Day? Night. That’s when I get my best writing done.
Inside or Outside? Outside
Dogs or Cats? Dog person 1000%. Although I do love Cats the musical.
Twitter or Facebook? Twitter. FB is toxic, but Twitter is great for connecting with likeminded people.
Ebook or Paperback? Ooh this is a tough one. I love my Kindle, but a good quality hardback is hard to beat.
Sun or Rain? Sun
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? Both! I sketch out ideas in a composition notebook with a pencil, then I write on my computer.
Comedy or Drama? Comedy, all the way. The world is depressing enough as it is, so I don’t enjoy dramas.
Chips or Chocolate? Chips! I like salty snacks.
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