As part of the featured author Q&A sessions, I am very pleased to announce that the featured author for the current session is Rebecca Bradley.
Rebecca is a retired police detective and lives in Nottinghamshire with her family and two cockapoo’s Alfie and Lola, who keep her company while she writes. Rebecca needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could, she would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis.
Hi Rebecca, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? Hi Laura, thank you for having me on your blog today! I’m a retired police detective having served for 16 years, 8 years in uniform and 8 as a detective before I had to retire on medical grounds. Now I write crime fiction.
What are your ambitions for your writing career? To be able to keep writing, to keep creating stories that readers want to read, for as long as I possibly can. It’s as simple as that really.
So, what have you written? I’ve currently written two novels, Shallow Waters and Made to be Broken, which focus on my protagonist, DI Hannah Robbins, but I’ve also released a prequel novella Three Weeks Dead which is from the point of view of one of the team from Hannah’s unit.
What is your most recent novel? The most recent full length novel is Made to be Broken and it’s the second in the Hannah Robbins series. It focuses on a man who thinks he is killing for the greater good, which makes him difficult to go up against. Also, he uses poison as an MO, another difficulty for police as it’s an offence where the killer doesn’t have to be up close and personal with the victim. The whole situation escalates to shocking levels.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? I feel a little weird saying this, but it’s not just my character, I think between Hannah and myself we bring the books to life. With my policing experience the reader knows they will be getting an authentic read. Though I am always conscious of not boring them with pages or even paragraphs full of dull procedure. It’s a fine line. Hannah is a dedicated detective with a good moral compass. There’s a hint of something that has happened within her family, but nothing has come out into the open yet. But it involves a sister who isn’t around at the moment and this causes some friction between Hannah and her father. It’s not a dark depressing background that some detectives have to deal with, but there is something there our level headed DI doesn’t want to talk about.
What genre are your books? They’re firmly in the crime genre and in the police procedural sub-genre. I do like to examine the characters within the stories as I feel characters are important. So, procedure isn’t a word that replaces character. Characters drive the story forward. We are people and we are what drive our own narratives in our lives and the same happens in stories.
What draws you to this genre? I’ve always loved the crime genre, reading Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven and Famous Five as a child before moving to Nancy Drew then Agatha Christie. Crime obviously fascinates me, because I then made it a career choice with policing. It was obviously going to be the genre I wrote in when I finally decided to sit down at my keyboard. I think I like to see the battle between good and bad but there isn’t really a clear cut line. Though, with the law, there obviously is, it’s with the causes of crime that things become blurrier. And that’s where crime fiction comes into its own because you get to explore the topics that interest you, the people and a society that interests you. The world is your oyster and who and what wins out is entirely up to you.
When did you decide to become a writer? I think I always wanted to write. I enjoyed it at school but I never did anything about it. Later in life, there were a few times I started a first chapter, but didn’t get any further. It wasn’t until I approached my 40th birthday that I decided now was the time I had to sit down and do it or I was never going to. At the time I was doing an OU degree in Geosciences. I decided to complete my level one courses and then take a year out to see if I could write. I never went back … (One day, I’d love to study again. I need to learn how to overcome the procrastination beast first.)
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I write every day, but because I live with physical disability (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) I write at any point in the day when I feel I have the energy and concentration. I tend to find I’m more of an afternoon writer. I’m quite slow to get going. Like a wind-up toy whose winder has seized up a bit! After that, I can write anywhere, my office desk, on the sofa or if it’s a bad day, in my bed.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? If I’m actually writing and not editing, yes, I like to write about 1,000 words a day. More if at all possible, but 1,000 is a sensible amount that I’m happy with.
Where do your ideas come from? Ah. I’m overflowing with ideas. I have a notepad on my phone that is full of the ideas I want to write. I just wish I could write faster so that I could actually write at least half of them because by the time I get down some of them, more will definitely be on the list. Where they come from? I’m not sure. As a writer my mind is always wandering about and the smallest thing can set off a random train of thought. From an overheard conversation, a scene from a TV drama, or even something as small as a sentence within a scene. People watching, situation watching, reading, just allowing my mind be free to wander – so in the shower is a good place for me. I can either find ideas in the shower or find answers to plot problems in there!
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you? With Shallow Waters I set out writing with the initial scene, the end scene in my head and nothing else. It took me an age to write that book and lots of rewriting. So now, I plan. It doesn’t stifle, it helps keep me organised. I write a long synopsis.
How long on average does it take you to write a book? This is a difficult one as I’m still a new writer having only two full novels and a novella out. I do think my process is becoming more refined though and I’m getting quicker at it. And by write, do you mean the first draft or the whole process, the first draft and the backwards and forwards-ing between myself and editors (which involves the periods of time they have it) to finished final product? Shallow Waters took an incredibly long time but there was a lot going on before it was released. Made to be Broken took about 15 months from starting it to release. It was an incredibly difficult book to write. I am certain my process is a lot smoother now.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I’m still learning. I’m learning the craft of writing. I want to improve, to give my readers a better experience with every book they pick up. But I’m also evolving in the ‘how’ I create. From never having written a book, a large unwieldy document that needs to read fluidly, I am learning how to go from idea to finished document in the easiest way possible for me. This will always be an ongoing project.
Do you read much and if so which writers inspire you? I am constantly reading. I think you have to. Particularly if you want to improve your own writing. I don’t understand writers who don’t read. How can you not read at all, but then sit down and write? There’s one problem with reading great writers though and that is that sometimes you can be left with the feeling that you’re rubbish, that you will never be anywhere in this specific writer’s league and why on earth did you think you could write? (Writers are very insecure.) I love Karin Slaughter, David Jackson and Sharon Bolton because they all write very character driven crime fiction. It’s not the plot that drives the story (though their plotting is devastatingly good) it is the character who drives the story forward. If I could write half as good as any of these author’s, then I would be incredibly happy. But it would take me many years to do that. If at all.
What is your favourite book and why? Argh! The difficult questions. This answer probably changes depending on what day of the week I’m asked as there are a few books I absolutely love. Today I’m going with The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist. A story set slightly in the future where people have a used by date. Quite fitting with the world we currently find ourselves living in.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. It was utterly beautiful and I will never ever be able to write like that.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Read a lot and not just in the genre you’re writing in, though you do need to read a lot in that genre to know and understand it well. Keep writing. Every day. Even if it’s just 200 words on a bad day, because it will get you into a routine and that routine becomes embedded. Don’t give up. We all receive rejections and negative feedback. It’s part and parcel of being a writer. If you love it, you’ll keep writing regardless. Be a part of social media and engage with writers and readers in your chosen genre, submerge yourself in the life you want to live and enjoy it for what it is. Not as a tool for selling.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included? I’m not sure there is Laura. This has been a really comprehensive Q&A! Thanks so much for having me. I’ve enjoyed answering the questions. Some of them really made me think!
How can readers discover more about you and your work? You can find me talking too much at the following places where I’d love to see you:
Facebook: click here
Twitter: click here
Amazon Author Page: click here
Goodreads: click here
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview. Thanks again for having me!