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Thursday, 20 October 2011

Author Interview with Faith Mortimer

Hello Faith, please tell us about you, as a writer.

Hello Stuart, first may I take this opportunity to thank you for inviting me along as your guest author today.
Like many of my writer friends I entered the ‘writing’ business later in life. My children were grown up and off my hands, I’d recently completed a Science degree (for interest and fun!), and when my husband took early retirement I thought, aha! So shall I and this gave me the opportunity to complete that first book that I’d always wanted to write. I’d decided on a story, (The Crossing) after listening to a good friend of ours telling us a tale about his father; a wartime story of love, loss and heroics. One thing led to another and here I am a couple of years later with two completed novels ( The Crossing, The Assassins’ Village), a short story collection and my third novel, (Children of the Plantation) published in Amazon last month!

Your latest book is Children of the Plantation; perhaps you’d you give us some insight into it in a few sentences?

My latest book is another in the Diana Rivers Mystery series entitled; Children of The Plantation.
It starts in the present; when heroine and amateur sleuth Diana is asked to read through a collection of journals she is whisked back to the turbulent times during the fifties and sixties in Malaya (now known as Malaysia). Love, betrayal, murder and mystery all feature heavily in this story.

How did you come to write this particular book?

After writing my first very popular Diana Rivers mystery, The Assassins’ Village, I was caught up in her character and loved writing about mysterious happenings. It seemed logical to write a follow up, especially when my loyal core of followers particularly asked me to!

Do you have a favourite character from the book? If so, who and why this particular one?

It has to be Diana. She’s a feisty lady, who’s always getting in trouble with her inquisitive ways. I also enjoyed writing about Alex, whose story it is really about. He’s on a rite of passage and is such a mixed up kid. When he does a certain thing he really messes things up and causes a calamity with huge repercussions!

Where can people buy your books?

My books are available on;

What qualities does a writer need to be successful?

Many qualities spring to mind. Even when you’re enjoying writing it’s a hard slog writing sometimes. It can be a lonely day when you sit there tapping away at your keyboard or holding a pencil. I finally got down to serious writing when my children were gown up. I took a science degree and once I’d realised that dedication, stamina and determination were needed to compete my degree I decided it applied equally to writing. Also I’ve recently discovered that your readers are the MOST important factor once your book goes live. They have feelings and are NOT there as your personal cash cow.

 What’s your working method?

When I am writing, time means nothing to me. Although I aim for at least 1500 words a day sometimes I can happily write three times that - so long as there are no distractions. No radio or television when I am working! At the moment I write in the 'snug', a gorgeous cosy room in our 200 -year old stone house. I know I have found my niche in life. It's fantastic to see the product of my efforts on a bookshelf in a store or on Amazon.
 I hand write into a note pad, when I’ve finished for the day I simply close the book and don’t open it until the next day when I’ll go over the previous day’s work. I may edit then.
When I come to put the completed notes onto my pc – this is my first major edit – the first of many!

What’s the single biggest mistake made by beginner writers?

As I’ve already said it can be a hard slog. When you’re ready to publish make sure that the product you’re going to offer is as good as a paperback. Take time to edit and re-edit, over and over. Be patient – it will take time to make any real progress. Be friendly and polite to everyone within the same market – you never know when you might need them and good manners never hurt. You can also learn lots from others as well.

To what extent are grammar and spelling important in writing?

Very important. As above – editing is boring with a capital B, but it pays off. The most annoying thing is you can check a MS 12 times, read it out aloud and yet once it’s printed you’ll still finds mistakes. Groan. We all do it and the big boys are also culprits!

How much do you revise your MS before sending it off?

Lots and lots. I also read it out aloud and get friends to do the same.

Many authors see marketing as a bind. What's your opinion on this, and how do you deal with it?

Marketing is a huge part of writing – and not just marketing the end product – the book – you have to market yourself. Be nice to people, remember they might be your reader. I enjoy some of the marketing, it takes up an enormous amount of time but I’ve ‘met’ some fabulous people and made loads of friends in the meantime! This makes up for it.

What sort of displacement activities keep you from writing?

Family! Home, friends who don’t always understand you.

How long does it take you to write a novel?

My first novel (The Crossing) took me about eighteen months with all the research (six months). I then wasted ages looking for an agent and then publisher. I eventually found one – who doesn’t do a lot towards marketing – I believe it’s best to do it yourself.
My second novel, The Assassins’ Village took about a year and my latest, just about to be published; Children of The Plantation took me about four months. I’m getting quicker. Also, as I’m becoming more experienced my books are tighter and less wordy – so shorter and therefore less time to complete.

Who or what inspires your writing?

I can read a great novel and I then go around thinking about it for days – the author may have a style that I admire and it gives me the impetus to get down and begin to write a new book. No one writer or person inspires me though.

If there’s a single aspect of writing you find frustrating, what is it?

I hate the first chapter/s. It takes me a while to find my stride. I often rewrite these many times. There are not enough hours in the day, and I’ll die before I’ve finally finished all I have to write!

Is there a particular feature of writing that you really enjoy?

Once I’m well into it and on a roll. I sometimes feel as if I could go on for ever.

Do you believe creative writing is a natural gift or an acquired skill?

Mmm. Hard question this. I think creative writing is a natural gift. One can acquire a certain amount of skill and polish, but the true writer has to possess that certain ‘something’, the spark, the feel and the need to get something down on paper.

What are you writing now?

I’ve just finished, Children of The Plantation which was published in September. I have another idea for a third Diana Rivers mystery in the pipeline and I’ve just begun my research for this. I have not yet got a title, but it will involve Diana and a group of actors in England.

Do you have a website or blog where readers can visit?

Absolutely, the link is
I’d love anyone to post me a comment on my blog there.

Given unlimited resources, where would you do your writing? Where do you actually write?

Here. I live in an old stone-house in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains on Cyprus. A beautiful Mediterranean island and known as Aphrodite’s own. I originally come from England. I write in ‘the snug’ in the house, or on a shady terrace outside. Perfect and quiet. 

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