Name Karen Long
Where are you from
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I graduated from Bangor University in the mid-eighties, with a degree in English and Drama and a PGCE in the same. I went on to teach English and Drama for fifteen years before taking up writing screenplays full time. I also studied neurobiology with The Open University.
I’m married to the Director Michael J Bassett and we have three grown up children, three dogs and, until recently, a pet raven. I live in rural Shropshire and because my husband works all over the world I am an enthusiastic traveller.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I am just about to finish my third book in the Eleanor Raven series. It’s called ‘The Cold Room’ and should be available early next year.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing for the stage just after graduating. This led onto writing screenplays and then, having been pushed into what my husband considered the inevitable, I began writing crime fiction three years ago. Why? It’s a way of breaking the silence.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I received my first payment for a screenplay option.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I was staying in Toronto and read an article in the local paper about a woman who was less than happy at being ‘rescued’ by the police. Witnesses reported her as having been grabbed and thrown into a van. When the vehicle was stopped by police, the ‘victim’ let loose a barrage of abuse, complaining that she’d been saving up since Christmas for her ‘red letter’ sexy kidnap day. Now what could possibly go wrong with that?
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I think so. I like to write with particular rhythms: hate similes but love metaphor and believe that ‘show don’t tell’ is the key to narrative success.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
‘The Safe Word’ is selected by the subdominant sexual partner to indicate when they’ve had enough. It allows a consenting couple to play out their fantasies, while safe in the knowledge that there’s a word that can’t be misinterpreted as ‘don’t, no! and mercy can be part of the game. It’s disconnected from the event and Eleanor Raven’s safe word is the key to her past and present. It has resonance.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I think all writers try to include some sort of truth or message, however subjected, in their writing. For me The Safe Word is about judgement and perceptions of self.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
Balancing the needs of your storyline with real life probabilities is a delicate road to navigate. The key is understanding that a novel is crime fiction and not crime fact. However the science in my novels is, as far as I can make it, accurate because I’m not writing science fiction. So, I make sure that weapons, pathology and forensics are well researched but, like all writers, procedures, time scales and probabilities are subject to artistic licence.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I’d say not but everything you write is always an amalgamation of experience and interest. When I started writing the novel I made a point of visiting a couple of Toronto sex clubs, though I haven’t participated in a BDSM session, mainly because I’m not keen on any form of discomfort.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I got hooked on Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and Conan Doyle as a teenager and have chewed my way through the great and the mediocre with equal enthusiasm. I’d say that possibly the biggest influences are Graham Greene, Charles Dickens, A.S Byatt, Frederick Forsyth and William Golding.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
‘American Tabloid’ by James Ellroy. It’s an intoxicating read and I can only manage a couple of chapters at a time and ‘Insights From Insects: What Bad Bugs Can Teach Us’ by Gilbert Waulbauer. I always have a novel and a popular science book on the go at any one time.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
New to me, writing or the genre? I greatly admire Karin Fossum and Johan Theorin.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
“The Cold Room’, which is Book Three in the Eleanor Raven series. If I stay forcused, it should be out on Amazon in the Spring.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I’d say Peta Nightingale, my agent and Lou Hunter, my friend. They always have something good to say, when I’m losing the plot, both literally and figuratively.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. It’s full time, pays my wine bill every month and what else could I do at my age? I just wish my children felt the same.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Absolutely not! It is what it is, and regrets are not really part of my world. Move on and get on with the next.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I wrote a play that performed at the Bath Fringe Festival thirty years ago. It was derivative, poorly constructed and naïve but I did it and it gave me a great sense of achievement.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
‘The Cold Room’ Chapter One:
Patrol officers Millie Goldsmith and Sonny Maitland had, between them, amassed over twenty-five years of active service, the greater part of this being spent on the smoothing over of domestic altercations. So, when the call came in at seven fifteen am, from an angry neighbour stating that, ‘The asshole at number thirty-four was raising merry hell…again!’, the two cops sighed and headed out on what was their last journey together.
The small, semi-detached house in the Jamestown region of the city was unremarkable, except for the hideous yells and smashing sounds coming from behind the façade. Millie approached the front door and knocked, while Sonny gathered some facts and a great deal of opinions from the neighbour, Al Perkins, who called it in. This strategy, which was to cost them their lives, had been one they had adopted early in their partnership. What they hadn’t considered was that the nature of this domestic incident was beyond either their fire or negotiating power.
The first bullet was delivered with astonishing accuracy from behind the closed front door denying Millie Goldsmith the option of any evasive action. It entered just below her left eye and destroyed all eloquent brain regions before exiting through the lower right occipital lobe. The post-mortem conclusion was unequivocal; PC Goldsmith was technically dead before her body fell backwards and down the wooden porch steps. Sonny, whose conscious self was desperately trying to keep pace with his body’s subconscious attempt to save him, watched as his hand un-holstered his Glock, prepped and aimed it and began to fire steadily at the figure that had just emerged from the building. Unlike his partner, Sonny took the fatal bullet in his throat, which allowed him to savour several precious moments of introspection before the final tunneling of his senses.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Just doing it! I am constantly distracted by other things.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
That’s hard to answer because I flit like a moth between authors, constantly updating my ‘favourite’ list. I think William Golding is one of my favourites because I frequently find myself drifting into his prose and visions. I find a great many of his novels almost unbearable to re-read, they have such an emotional impact but I still find new levels of meaning that eluded me before.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
In terms of geography and flavour I’ve used up all of my previous trips to Toronto. If I’m going to write a fourth in the series, I need to get back there for a few weeks and immerse myself.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Myself and my son. He’s a dab hand at photoshop.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The middle is always difficult. The opening scene and the final tying up of all the plot points are the easy bits. Developing the story is the real ‘shoulder to the plough’.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
That being a fantasist can pay off.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t over write. Nothing turns off a reader faster than over egging that pudding. Move on.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
This one and recall all of the pictures very clearly.
of Peter and Jane
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Animals make me laugh and their deaths make me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I’d love to meet Sir Davis Attenborough. His experience and understanding of the natural world is legendary.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
‘All Round Good Egg’. If the boot fits!
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I love running and bird watching.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
‘The Bridge’ and ‘Peaky Blinders’ on the tv front and favourite films include ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Seven’.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Pathologist or zoologist.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
twitter: Karen Long @karenlongwriter