Author Q&A: Charlotte Williams
I hope you enjoyed this month’s featured author week! If you haven’t yet already, be sure to pick up a copy of The House on the Cliff from wherever you buy books. Also, check out the excerpt and review from this week, or the review from earlier this year.
Q: What inspired The House on the Cliff? Tell me about the writing process
A: I wanted to write a mystery set in Wales, with gothic aspects but also a sense of domestic drama. For some time, I’d been thinking about a novel with a female protagonist who solves crime, but also has an ordinary home life. The setting for the house was inspired by an actual house on the coast in West Wales.
Q: I noticed Jessica went into a lot of psychological detail in her thoughts regarding other characters, and even in the places she traveled to. What led to your decision to make her a psychologist?
A: I liked the idea of a psychotherapist detective–solving crime through an understanding of human motivation and behavior. I also liked the idea of the set-up, rather like Chandler, where Jessica sits in her office, and a devastatingly attractive but untrustworthy client walks in with a story to tell, which she unwisely becomes caught up in. It was also an opportunity to show how a psychotherapist works, and to discuss what psychotherapy is, which I think many readers will find interesting.
Q: How is writing a novel similar–and different–from writing for television or radio? Did you expect them to be different?
A: I do write for radio. I think the difference is, a radio script has to be ‘dramatic’–it is drama after all, and the pace has to be fast; whereas in a novel there’s more space for the author’s voice, and it can afford to be more reflective. A script is really just a blueprint for the action, and it’s always wonderful to see the characters ‘come alive’ in reality, through the actors; in a novel, you have to make the characters come alive through words on the page!
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
A: Keep to a writing schedule, even if you don’t feel you’re getting very far. I also try to write a scene a day, with a rough word count of about 600-1000 words. Plot carefully in advance, but if the characters don’t fit, you may have to change your plot–or your characters–so don’t be rigid about it.
Q: What is your favorite book (or few books)?
A: Hard to say. From childhood, Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca; also Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. As an adult, Jean Rhys’ books other than Wide Sargasso Sea, such as Voyage into Darkness. In recent crime fiction, I admire Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.
Q: What are you reading right now?
A: The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard, who recently died, and who was Martin Amis’ stepmother.