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Crime author of the month interview with Stacy Margaret Allan

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1. How did you get started writing?

My mum and dad bought me a computer for Christmas when I was a seven years old and I was more interested in the blank word document than the computer games I got with it, though I loved Terminator. I started to write stories a lot but I didn’t know how to save them or even if I could.

2. What drew you to write a crime novel?

I read The Know and Two Women by Martina Cole when I was a teenager and I loved them so much that I started to collect crime books and read them whenever I could.

3. Which authors past or present have influenced your style of writing?

Martina Cole, Mandasue Heller, Kimberly Chambers and Kevin Lewis for the pace of their books, the underlying threat that there’s always something exciting just about to happen and spin the story on its head. Ian Rankin and Val McDermid for not only their stories, but their links to Fife and the way they described places that I know and have been to. Also Jane Austen because when I studied her books at high school I liked the way she used subtle hints of body language to get her point across instead of always using conversations.

4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?

I found out about Createspace very early on and I decided straight away that I’d like to self-publish and have total control over my writing.

5. There are many interesting characters in your Novel. Do you have a particular favourite one?

Marie is my favourite. She’s definitely the most like me, or how I’d like to see myself. She doesn’t take any nonsense and she’s quick to defend herself and her family. She has a strong bond with her family and they see each other a lot, despite everyone having their faults. She drinks, smokes and swears a lot, neither of which I get to do very much any more!

6. What kind of research have you had to undertake for your Novel?

It was easy to write about working inside the bookies and the council office because I’ve worked in both of them myself. One of the hardest jobs was finding out the pub décor in the Minto Lounge in Lochgelly because I don’t drink at home or visit pubs. I eventually managed to find out how it looked after seeing someone’s Facebook photos. I wanted a very important scene to happen just outside that pub because of its prime location in Lochgelly, right in the middle of the busiest street. I looked on estate agent websites to find how the inside of houses in Earn Road in Kirkcaldy look so I could describe Nicole’s flat correctly. I checked with the police about using certain names for my police officers and I had to change one because a real policeman has the name I was going to use. I also asked a policewoman about which job titles my police officers should have.

7. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?

Many of them are based on people that I knew in my teenage years and early twenties, which is a time that I found myself missing when I started to write the book. My wild, carefree days were over, as I was pregnant with my first child at twenty three and I’d already been helping to look after my stepson for three years, since he was a baby. I was in the college canteen where my daughter’s dad was studying and I was too scared to leave his side for too long in case I went into labour. I had a pad of paper and a pen in front of me and I’d always wanted to write a book, so I started there and then and never looked back.

8. What do you think makes your novels stand out from all the other Crime Fiction Novels out there?

I’ve never read a book that is set in Fife in Scotland that describes my generation, our teenage years and how we felt. There was nothing to do unless you came from a family with lots of money, apart from very scarce clubs where you could go for an hour on certain days of the week, so we used to roam the streets and spend time together, eventually smoking and drinking alcohol and being moved on by the police. I’ve never read a fiction novel set in the streets of Lochgelly, which is the town where I grew up.

9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?

Dawn’s strength and fear for her children’s future comes from me. I have been through a lot in my life, most of which nobody else knows about because I keep it to myself. I bleed it out on to the paper when I write. I can understand Dawn’s fears for her children and how protective she is of them. I definitely see myself in Marie’s determination to grab hold of her dreams and her need for isolation to feel safe, staying in her flat most of the time and getting on with writing. She has to focus on herself and how she feels because if she loses sight of that, she’ll lose control over everything. Darren and Sean’s recklessness is a reflection of how I used to behave as a teenager, always looking for the next thrill and not paying too much attention to what was going on around me. Kayla’s strong feelings towards keeping her sisters safe echo the protective streak I had towards my little brother. We fought constantly but if anybody else was to touch a hair on his head I would lose the plot and want to kill them. Maggie’s need to let no one walk all over her and Max’s need to be in constant control also come from me personally.

10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned?

I’m writing Broken Dreams, which is the sequel to Sorrow Dreams. I’m following the same characters and moving the story onwards, but I’m also giving more focus to those who surrounded the main characters from Sorrow Dreams. They get much more attention in this book. In the direction it’s going just now, some old arguments will be settled and put to bed but new ones will spring up and explode. I can’t wait to write the ending because it’s such a dramatic scene.

11. In your novel which scene was your favourite to write and why?

I loved writing the scene where Maggie found out about her only having a short time left to live. While it’s sad, the way she handled it was really brave and actually quite funny. She decided not to take any more nonsense from her daughters and spat her biscuit out on to the floor, determined not to eat another one unless it was a posh one from the shop with her cup of tea. She set out exactly what she wanted to happen after her death and she managed to laugh at herself and her situation while pulling one daughter closer and pushing the other one away. She was determined to make her shy daughter braver and stand up to the one who had always pushed everybody around.

12. As an up and coming crime writer, do you have words of advice you can share?

Put lots of details into your book that people can relate to. Give them sights, sounds, smells and things to touch and taste that your readers will recognise and feel a connection with. It will draw them further into the story. Don’t tell the readers that a character feels a certain emotion unless you are willing to show them too. If they are nervous or angry, what body language would they display? Describe things in detail. Always take a step back from your work for a few weeks and review it with fresh eyes. You miss points that need editing otherwise. Most importantly, don’t give up. If you don’t like something you’ve written, scrap it and try again.

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When she is seven years old, Dawn Napier is forced to live with strict adoptive parents in the desolate ex-mining community of Shinewater, situated on the outskirts of Lochgelly in Fife. Catherine and Michael Napier are very wealthy and they forbid her to make friends with the local children, so she has a heartbreakingly lonely upbringing. When she is nineteen she decides to bend the rules and has the time of her life getting to know a group of friends from the town. She suddenly becomes one of the in-crowd, has to deal with confusion over her sexuality, and then discovers that she has been lied to all along about her real parents’ history. After being sexually attacked by a gang of men, she faces the agonizing reality that nothing will ever be the same again. She struggles to decide who she should turn to and where this journey will ultimately lead her. After going down the destructive path of sex, alcohol, drugs and murder will she finally be able to gain the freedom from her own life that she craves so badly? Nicole Grieve chases dreams of rainbows, fights and teenage delights. But on the inside she’s screaming. She’s crying out for someone to come and take her away from her harsh life. She doesn’t realise that the one person who she really needs to make her forget about all of her pain and mistakes is the baby she created from her own body. Her daughter, Alexa, is being raised by her teenage dad. Luke Harvey has done his best and he’s waiting patiently for Nicole to start to care, but how long can this last? Dawn and Nicole discover a link between them that threatens to open up an even wider rift between both their families.

Facebook Author Page

https://www.facebook.com/StacyMargaretAllan

Facebook Sorrow Dreams Page

https://www.facebook.com/sorrowdreams1?fref=ts

Twitter: @stacyauk

Amazon Author Page

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Stacy%20Margaret%20Allan&search-alias=digital-text&sort=relevancerank

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