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March 2014 coffee cake and Crime Event With Julie Corbin


Julie Corbin was born and brought up in Scotland. She runs the medical department in a boarding school when not writing. Julie’s first novel, Tell Me No Secrets, was published by Hodder in 2009, and was followed by Where the Truth Lies in 2010. Do Me No Harm, her third novel, was published in summer 2012. Her fourth novel Now That You’re Gone will be out in the Summertime.

1.How did you get started writing?
I’ve always loved words, shaping sentences, finding the right phrase etc. and have written for as long as I can remember but didn’t get serious about writing until 2006 when I went to Sussex University on my day off to study creative writing. That was an exciting time. I made good friends, gained confidence in the craft of writing and was encouraged to aim high.
2.What drew you to write a crime novel?
Everything I write seems to involve death or deceit or secretive behaviour – I’m not one for hearts and flowers! – so I gravitate towards telling stories where the protagonist is faced with a problem and has to behave in a way she normally wouldn’t to solve that problem. Crime is an inclusive genre that allows for a whole range of story telling. My books are at the psychological/suspense end of the crime spectrum.
3.Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
I don’t know whether any writers have influenced my style of writing as such but I know the writers I love to read – Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler, Sarah Gran, Gillian Flynn, Louise Doughty, Kate Atkinson, William Boyd, Dennis Lehane, Stephen King, Ian Banks, Denise Mina, Val McDermid and many more…
4. If you were given the chance to do a series, would you go for it or do you prefer writing standalone novels?
My fourth novel, Now That You’re Gone, which will be published in June, is the beginning of a series. The main character is called Isla McTeer and she is a private detective of sorts. I say ‘of sorts’ because her cases will be unusual.
5. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
I was lucky because the beginning of my first novel, Tell Me No Secrets, was short listed in two well-known competitions. My agent Euan Thorneycroft at A M Heath signed me up on the understanding that I did some substantial rewrites (I had literally lost the plot half way through.) When we had the book ready I had the choice of a couple of publishers and chose Hodder and Stoughton
6. There are many interesting characters in your novels, do you have a particular favourite one?
Not really. I think I’ve liked and understood all of my protagonists when I’ve been in the throes of writing the novels. I would like to bring some of them back (the twins in Tell Me No Secrets and Kirsty in Do Me No Harm) and I may yet do that with my series. I’m looking forward to working with Isla and her family in my fifth novel, the second in the series. It’s in the planning stage at the moment.
7. You have set your novels in different places, do you have a favourite place?
Definitely Scotland and Edinburgh in particular. I have Isla living at the foot of the Pentland Hills and I plan for the series to be set mostly in Scotland.
8. Your novels have been compared to some of the big names in Crime Fiction, how does that make you feel?
It’s wonderful to be mentioned in the same sentence as writers I admire but the best thing is when I hear from readers. Nothing makes me happier than receiving an email from a reader telling me how much he or she has enjoyed my book.
9. What kind of research have you had to undertake for your novels?
I research place by visiting the setting and using what’s there, sometimes adding and subtracting detail as I bring the setting into the story (because it is fiction after all!). I have a cousin who is a police inspector in Edinburgh and I have had help from a range of professionals, from barristers to private detectives, who kindly gave up their time to listen to my plot and help me find the truth in the story.
10. Are the characters in your books based on any in real life? Not entirely, no. I think we are all informed by our own experiences, our personal backstory, and writers borrow a trait from one person and meld it with a trait from another, throw in some imagination and create a character who doesn’t (but could) exist. The first class I took on my university course was called ‘autobiography and the imagination’ – using your own experience as your diving off point.
11. Since you have started writing have any well-known authors given you advice?
No, but I am a great believer in writing classes and at the moment I’m doing a television script writing class in Brighton and loving it. I know I still have a lot to learn and honing the craft is something I really enjoy. I like to spend time with fellow writers where we can support each other and bounce ideas around.
12. Do you see any of your characters’ personalities in yourself and vice versa?
Definitely. I think writing can be cathartic – for example, over the last few years I’ve been dealing with loss as both my dad and my sister died, and this has come through in my fourth novel.
It is important, though, to separate yourself from your characters so I very deliberately give my protagonists different characteristics from myself. Not least because I lead a quiet life and I need my characters not to!
13. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned?
Now That You’re Gone begins with Isla McTeer’s twin brother’s body being pulled out of the Clyde and she has to work out what has happened to him. As soon as I have the proof copy, the prologue and first chapter will go up on my website.
14. Out of all the novels you have written do you have a favourite one that stands out to you?
I like them all for different reasons, because they each had their own challenges and their own rewards. At the moment, I feel like my fourth novel is probably my best because I’m at the copy edit stage and am still very close to it.
15. As a well-known crime writer do you have words of advice you can share?
Write every day. Join a class. Make writing friends. Find people whose opinion you respect and be willing to listen and to rewrite. (Writing is all about rewriting.) Most of all, though, enjoy the process!

Tell Me No Secrets
Where The Truth Lies
Do Me No Harm
Now That You’re Gone published 5 June 2014

Amazon Author Page


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