Today I have the pleasure of welcoming the very lovely Alison Lingwood to my blog. Alison is a local-to-me author and we’ve met a few times. Thanks for joining me, Alison.
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
My name is Alison Lingwood. I am an ex-lecturer and businesswoman living in north Staffordshire. I began writing when I retired and published my first book in 2012. My novels comprise a series of detective stories set in my home area, and explore crimes alongside the life of my detectives, their friends and families.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
The ideas come from all sorts of places. The first novel arose from a post on the internet, which led to me thinking about how information shared on social media can be used and abused. The second book came from a phrase – which subsequently became the title – that I came across when planning a holiday to Bridport. Research showed me that the Bridport Dagger was a name given to a hangman’s noose and so the story began. Subsequent novels have been prompted by such topical issues as Equity Release and the proposed HS2 Rail Link, although such issues tend to provide the backdrop for the story rather than the main narrative of the plot.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
Some characters, I think inevitably, are loosely based on the appearance, mannerisms and/or lifestyles of people I know. This is after all our own experience of life and the building bricks of making up a character – what they would look like, how they would act in certain situations etc. I haven’t based a character entirely on anybody specific – it tends more to be details I borrow from them. Sometimes too I have found that people “recognise” themselves in my characters – often wrongly.
How do you pick your character’s names?
The names are selected on a fairly random basis. I try to avoid names of family and friends for unpleasant characters so I don’t cause offence. My books tend to contain a lot of characters, and I now have lists of both Christian and surnames I have used already, and I do jot down ones I think of or see – perhaps on TV credits for example – that I may use in the future. I try to reflect the age of my characters where relevant, so older characters are Mavis or Queenie rather than Chantelle or Kylie! I like to include local names, so I’ve used Hanchurch, Bloor and Chell as surnames.
My leading detective is called Christopher Timothy, which name of course coincides with that of a well-known actor. Both are fairly common names so I kept them, but subsequently regretted this. The use of a Christian name as a surname prevents me from using the literary device of changing from one to the other to represent personal and professional strands of the storyline. For example in Lewis or Frost, the surname is used in the workplace situations but Robbie or Jack in a social context. I thought it would be too confusing for the reader if I sometimes referred to my detective as Chris and sometimes as Timothy.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
The writing process is erratic. I have no agent or commercial publisher to pressure me with deadlines so I simply write when I have an idea for where I want the story to go. Sometimes this means I write 1000+ words in a day, sometimes I don’t touch the manuscript for a week or two. It’s a hobby and I want it to stay like that without the pressure imposed by commercial need.
Do you have a favourite author?
This is a difficult question for me to answer. I have some perennial favourites that I go back to time and time again, like comfort food. These include WJ Burley, Colin Dexter, Ruth Rendell, Agatha Christie and Elizabeth George. Other favourites vary from time to time. I’ve recently enjoyed reading Victoria Hislop, Mel Sharratt, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Shakespeare is a perennial favourite too, the plays by him and biographies about him. Next week my favourites may be different.
Were you a big reader as a child?
I was a keen reader as a child, and much more so as a teenager. One of my lasting memories is as a ten year old being read Prester John by John Buchan at school and being fascinated by the Afrikaans place name Blaauwildebeestefontein. I asked for my own copy for Christmas. Perhaps that started for me a love of playing with words.
When did you start to write?
I wrote and published my first novel when I was sixty. Prior to that I had often felt that I would like to try my hand at a novel, but the time, energy and inspiration never coincided until after I retired.
What are you working on right now? / When can we look forward to a new release?
I have just released the fifth Christopher Timothy novel in the series so it will be a while before the next! At the time writing the sixth consists of about twelve thousand words and a lot of half-baked ideas.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
I am quite a private person and don’t share a lot of personal information, but the books are available from amazon.co.uk in paperback and on Kindle. New releases are announced to friends on Facebook and on the Book Club page.
You can find all of Alison’s books on her AmazonUK author page HERE
I read Portal To Murder before I was blogging, but if you haven’t already and would like to, you can read my review for The Bridport Dagger here The Bridport Dagger by Alison Lingwood
Many thanks again to Alison for answering my questions.