We caught up with Fiona J. Roberts, author of 'Ebb and Flow' and 'Just Des(s)erts', to discuss her process as an author, why the interest in mystery novels and what is her motivation to keep writing books.
When did you first discover that you loved to write?
I had worked in the banking industry for many years and when I stopped, I wanted something else to do. I had been nursing the idea for a book for some time, I had even written the first paragraph many years ago, and I opened a word document. and started to type. Writing the first book was a huge learning curve but it proved to be a, mostly, enjoyable process. What was a wish to put this one story down on paper, has turned into a bit of an addiction. I have written a lot more since and hope to publish even more novels in the future.
What is your motivation?
As I say writing has become a compulsion. I get an idea and then can’t wait to start on a new story. The feedback that I have had has been very good so I want to share my books with as many people as possible and entertain them.
Why the interest in writing mystery novels?
There are books which follow a tried and tested formula. Writing mysteries gives me a chance to surprise my readers. As I have gone out to give talks at my local library and at the WI those that have read 'Ebb and Flow' have all said the same thing. “I wasn’t expecting that to happen at the end.” I know that when I read a book I like to be kept guessing about what will happen next and that is what I aim for when writing.
Who/what inspires you and why?
I have taken inspiration from so many sources. 'Ebb and Flow' has been with me for so long that I can’t remember where that particular story came from. I had been reading a book about a serial killer who was a white man in his 20’s. This is the way that this type of murderer is usually portrayed and it made me think about the alternatives. What if the killer was a woman? What if there were a group of women committing these crimes? Thus Just Des(s)erts, a story of middle aged women who become vigilante killers, was born.
Sometimes a single word can light a spark in the mind. The word “crate” led to the story of a strange legacy. Ruth receives a crate full of mementos from her aunt which reveal her extraordinary life. As she finds out about her Aunt Loretta, Ruth realises that she has to make changes in her own life.
What is your favourite character from a mystery book and why?
When I am writing a book I do tend to have a favourite character. It might not always be the main protagonist but sometimes they just resonate with me. I must confess to a liking for murder mysteries and horror. I like the underdog or rookie who overcomes obstacles to crack the case or win the day. There is an appeal to the stories which take a character out of their usual lives and throw them into a dangerous or unknown situation. I think that I like to see someone’s flaws rather than the consummate professional.
What is your writing process? Do you go straight into writing a novel?
When I get an idea, I like to start writing straight away. At some stage though some planning has to happen. I have to sketch out where the story is going and what I am going to cover in each chapter. This plan isn’t written in stone. As I write, new ideas are formed and the fundamentals of the story itself can change. Often I know where I want to end up or what the start will be but no clue as to what else might occur. Actually committing words to paper (or word document.) helps with the whole process.
What did your family say when you wanted to become a writer? Have they been supportive in your decision?
I wasn’t sure if I could write a book. When I started 'Ebb and Flow' only my husband was aware that I was attempting to write a novel. It wasn’t until I had got the publishing contract with Austin Macauley that I told other family members and friends. Everyone was delighted for me and very supportive. A few worried people did ask nervously whether they were in my books.
Friends bought 'Ebb and Flow' and have gone on to buy my other books too. Their feedback has been fantastic which has given me the confidence to keep writing. I think they all quite like the thought of one of their friends being an author and insist that I sign the copies of the books they buy.
Do you ever get stuck on subjects to write about?
So far, I have managed to keep writing without too much anxiety about running out of ideas. Three novels have been published to date and another five have been completed. I am currently working on my ninth book which is in the horror genre. I do take a break for a short while after finishing a piece of work. It is never long before I am itching to get back to writing and hoping that inspiration will come.
Thank you to Fiona for catching up with us, we look forward to seeing more of her books out soon!
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