I'm delighted to be taking part in the An Act of Silence blog tour today, featuring a Q&A with author Colette McBeth.
ABOUT THE BOOK
These are the facts I collect.
My son Gabriel met a woman called Mariela in a bar. She went home with him. The next morning she was found in an allotment.
Mariela is dead.
Gabriel has been asked to report to Camden Police station in six hours for questioning.
Linda Moscow loves her son; it's her biological instinct to keep him safe. But if she's not sure of his innocence, how can she stand by him? Should she go against everything she believes to protect him?
She's done it before, and the guilt nearly killed her.
Now, the past is catching up with them. As old secrets resurface, Linda is face with another impossible choice. Only this time, it's her life on the line...
Hi Colette, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. To start things off, can you give us your one line pitch for your new novel An Act of Silence?
It's about a mother faced with an impossible choice to save her son, and the lives destroyed by the decision she makes.
An Act of Silence has a very intricate plot, I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about how you plotted the novel and how long it took you to write it?
With great difficulty! I'm a plotter and find it hard to write anything without having a clear sense of where I'm going. What tends to happen is that I have an idea for a novel and then spend about six months or more trying to pin it down while it's constantly changing. Then I get to the point where I can draw it all out, chapter by chapter, usually on a roll of wallpaper. It changes all the time but that's my road map. If I don't have it all laid out I can't remember what I'm supposed to be writing!
In the beginning of the novel, your character Linda Moscow is faced with an unprecedented situation when her son is accused of murder and she must decide if she will protect him. Did this every make you think how you would react if you were in Linda's situation?
Absolutely. I think we all believe we're essentially good people, and that we'd do what's right and proper in certain situations but sometimes life presents you with impossible choices. Linda was forced to make one such choice years before, and while I don't agree with what she did, as a mother I know I'd do anything to save my children.
An Act of Silence is your third novel, I was wondering if you could tell us how that feels to have your third novel out there and how life has changed for you since you became a published author?
When I was working full time, I used to dream of spending my days writing in a shed at the bottom of my garden without a care. The reality is somewhat different; I don't have a shed for starters (I have a study) and while it is a wonderful job, the truth is it can be quite tough mentally. Sitting on your own every day for a year and a half and producing a book you have no idea anyone is going to like or buy is terrifying. The benefit of having written three novels is that when I'm struggling to fix a story down, and the voice in my head is telling me it won't work, I now know from experience it will, but it takes time and thought.
I also have a great group of author friends who I chat to online (way too much if I'm honest) so when it's not going well I have twenty people telling me that it will be fine, and to just get on with it!
The other truth I've discovered is that writing tends to happen between the cracks of family life. There's always a meeting or a sports day or something happening that trumps my work so I end up writing a lot at night. Then again, there are amazing times, like publication day last week, where I can sit back and enjoy the achievement.
Once your book is out there in the world, have you ever wished that you could go back and redraft it or change any other aspects about the plot?
Yes, always. No book is perfect and I think authors are way more critical of their work than most reviewers. But that's why it's a learning curve, and the beauty of starting a new book is you have a chance to do it better.
When I read An Act of Silence I was surprised by the direction it took, without trying to give too much of the plot away, did you always know how the story was going to develop?
Not when I had the inital idea of the mother son dynamic but as soon as the characters began to emerge I saw very clearly what had happened. If I'm honest I shied away from the subject matter at first and I do think it was absolutely right to be cautious. The last thing I wanted was for it to be gratuitous, but I also wanted to show the personal tragedy caused by such an abuse of power.
Who are your favourite authors in the crime fiction genre at the moment?
I'm a big fan of Liz Nugent and I loved Susie Steiner's Missing, Presumed. I'm hoping Rachel Rhys' Dangerous Crossing will be massive this summer. It's incredibly good.
Do you stick to a writing routine? Do you have a limit for how many words you write a day?
I'm a terrible procrastinator particularly at the plotting stage so my writing happens in stages; I don't seem to achieve much in the first six months and then I work flat out for the next six. When I'm at the writing stage I'll try and do 1,500 words a day.
What advice would you give to any aspiring authors?
Your book isn't going to write itself. No matter how great your idea is, how wonderful your prose, unless you find the time and make yourself do it, your novel will only ever be a dream. Set yourself a weekly target but don't stress if life gets in the way, it's not the end of the world.
And finally, what are you reading at the moment and what are you looking forward to reading this year?
I'm reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine right now for a break from crime fiction. I'll be downloading Persons, Unknown onto my kindle next.
Thank you Colette, for taking the time to answer my questions. And you can purchase her latest novel, An Act of Silence now by clicking HERE.
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