Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Michelle Davies to my blog. Michelle’s debut novel, Gone Astray (DC Maggie Neville Book 1), was published on Kindle by Pan Macmillan on 24th March 2016 and in paperback on 20th October 2016.
I have a lovely Q&A for you to enjoy…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
I’ve been writing professionally for 26 years, first as a reporter on my local paper, then for national women’s magazines. I’m currently freelance, writing for titles including Marie Claire and Stylist. Gone Astray is set in my home county, Buckinghamshire, and is about a missing 15-year-old girl whose parents are EuroMillions winners. The police officer at the centre of the novel is Family Liaison Officer DC Maggie Neville, who is assigned to the parents as the search continues. The million-dollar question is whether the girl’s disappearance is related to the money they won, or something else entirely.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
As a journalist I’m constantly scouring the news, so my ideas often are sparked by reports I’ve read. It was a news item about the fate of lottery winners – and how so many wished in hindsight that they’d never won, because the money has caused so many problems and rifts – that sparked the theme for Gone Astray.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
There are a few elements of people I know in my characters (myself included), but I’m very careful to disguise who I’ve borrowed from! I think it’s okay for authors to use tics and traits of people they know in novels – after all, real life is what informs our writing – but I would never base a character wholesale on someone I knew. I would be too worried about them working out it’s them!
How do you pick your characters names?
For first names I usually determine how old the character is then look up the top 100 baby names for the year they were born. I think it’s important to give them a name that suits the era they were raised in. With surnames I tend to pick them from newspaper reports and occasionally I’ve borrowed from friends. Maggie Neville is an amalgamation of one of my favourite girls’ names – I wanted to call our daughter Maggie but her dad, my partner, wasn’t keen! – while Neville is my late father-in-law’s first name. I sadly never got to meet him as he died more than 20 years ago, but it’s nice he’s played a part in all of this.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I tend to binge-write my novels around my freelance work as a journalist. So I’ll spend a few weeks writing chapters, then go back to my day job for a couple of weeks – working at home allows me that flexibility. But before I get started on a novel I write a 5,000-word plotline and do my research: I like to have the book fairly well mapped out before I begin writing.
Do you have a favourite author?
My absolute favourite is Ruth Rendell, but I also love Tana French, Sophie Hannah and Erin Kelly. Erin’s a good friend of mine – we first met working on magazines 17 years ago – but I’m not saying I like her novels because of that. She is one of the best psychological thriller writers there is and her new one, He Said/She Said (out Feb) is her best and cleverest yet.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Gosh, what a brilliant question! Can I go back in time? Because I think it would have to be Harper Lee. To Kill A Mockingbird is my favourite novel, the one I return to time and time again, and I’d like to ask her if she really was happy that Go Set A Watchman was published. I hope she was.
Were you a big reader as a child?
I don’t remember a time as a kid when I didn’t have a book in my hands! The first book I remember reading was a Hamlyn collection of fairytales; I read it over and over until the spine cracked. I was heartbroken when it had to go in the bin!
When did you start to write?
I started writing short stories around the age of eight – I would spend my pocket money buying those red Silvine exercise books from our local newsagent’s, Bunces, and would fill the pages with my own versions of Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven books. I was 12 when I decided I wanted to be a reporter when I grew up and got a job as a trainee on my local paper at 18. I was blinkered to the idea of doing anything else, including going to university.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
I might not agree with some endings or feel disappointed/let down by what happens, but I respect every author’s right to end their novel as they see fit, so I’m not going to answer this one! I would hate it if someone wrote an alternative ending to Gone Astray; feels a bit too 50 Shades-fan-fic to me.
What are you working on right now?
Before the summer I finished the edits on my second novel, Wrong Place, which features DC Maggie Neville again in the role of FLO. It’s about a murder-suicide attempt that goes wrong.
Do you have a new release due?
Wrong Place is published on February 27 next year.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Anyone can tweet me at @M_Davieswrites or message me at https://www.facebook.com/MichelleDaviesAuthor/
A big thank you to Michelle for answering my questions and to Francesca Pearce, Publicity Manager at Pan Macmillan, for the opportunity.
Buy your copy of Gone Astray (DC Maggie Neville Book 1) HERE
Publisher: Pan; Main Market Ed. edition (24 Mar. 2016)
When a Lesley Kinnock buys a lottery ticket on a whim, it changes her life more than she could have imagined . . .
Lesley and her husband Mack are the sudden winners of a £15 million EuroMillions jackpot. They move with their 15-year-old daughter Rosie to an exclusive gated estate in Buckinghamshire, leaving behind their ordinary lives – and friends – as they are catapulted into wealth beyond their wildest dreams.
But it soon turns into their darkest nightmare when, one beautiful spring afternoon, Lesley returns to their house to find it empty: their daughter Rosie is gone.
DC Maggie Neville is assigned to be Family Liaison Officer to Lesley and Mack, supporting them while quietly trying to investigate the family. And she has a crisis threatening her own life – a secret from the past that could shatter everything she’s worked so hard to build.
As Lesley and Maggie desperately try to find Rosie, their fates hurtle together on a collision course that threatens to end in tragedy . . .
Money can’t buy you happiness.
The truth could hurt more than a lie.
One moment really can change your life forever.