Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi, I’m Angela Wren. I’m being 29 again this year and I was born, and still live, in Yorkshire in the UK
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
By profession I’m a business change and project manager. Big title, I know and it would never fit on my name badges! The work was very demanding, very pressured, but I managed to escape, and now I write books. My alternative life, and it’s one that I’ve been following since I was 6 years old, is drama. I am a member of a theatre near where I live where I act, direct, work in the Box Office, paint scenery… I do anything there that does not involve lights or sound!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I have a new Jacques Forêt story that was released in July. It’s the second book in the series and is called Merle
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always been fascinated by stories and story-telling from as early as I can remember. That led me into reading avidly from being very small and from there it was a kind of natural conclusion to move into writing my own stories. My work in business and project management involved a lot of drafting of documents detailing plans and strategies for communications within organisations large and small. So, in many ways, writing has been a part of my whole life.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably when I got the contract for my first book. I was astounded that someone wanted to publish my work! But between signing the contract and then getting the first book actually published I went through a complete roller-coaster of emotions ranging from the highs of elation to the depths of self-doubt. But, here we are almost 2 years later and book 1, Messandrierre, is still around and still selling.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I spend as much time as I can in France and one morning in September 2007 I woke up to snow and the stunningly rugged scenery in the Cévennes covered with a white blanket. It set me thinking how easy it would be for snow to mask someone’s misdeeds and the first chapter of Messandrierre was born.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
A couple of years later I was in Charente on the western side of France and was invited for tea and cakes by some people I met in the local supermarket. Messandrierre is a corruption of the name of the real village where they lived.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
That’s a difficult question to answer. Messandrierre was the fourth book, the previous two are in a drawer, and the very first one has now been shredded and will never, ever see the light of day! However, before its tragic demise, I did compare my drafting between the stories and I can see that my style has changed. I know from some of the comments and feedback I’ve received, that there is a lot of colour in my writing. I suppose you could say that is part of my style. As for my genre of mystery stories, I love the plotting and that can be quite difficult and time-consuming, but it is great fun too!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My fictional village of Messandrierre is based on a real village in the Cévennes that I visit all the time. However in my imagination, I did move the chateau, build some hunting chalets and fell a few trees to make it work for my story. The city of Mende, mentioned in both books but the primary location for book 2, is a real place I visit regularly. I’ve created the fictitious business organisation for book 2 using my own professional business knowledge and experience.
I build all of my characters from the toes upwards, so they all have their own individual quirks – as we all do in real life. I think trying to use the character of someone you know is dangerous, because they may recognise themselves, and it is also constraining because it may take the story in the wrong direction. That being said, I will admit to taking odd phrases and comments that I’ve overheard in the margins of meetings, or in the canteen or at the tea point and asked myself, ‘What if?’ and then built the consequential ideas into a scene. As a writer, I find I am always asking myself ‘What if?’ And some of the answers are very interesting indeed!!
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
All of my novels are set in France and I’ve travelled extensively there since I was a teenager. I now spend as much time as I can over there every year.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My publisher sorted out my covers for me and I love them both.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Just that my investigator, Jacques, always gets the culprit and that he will always be a policeman at heart.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I read very widely and to narrow this down to my favourite author is really tough. But I guess I will say Agatha Christie. I like her sleuths, her story-telling is complex and makes me think, and her plots are legendary. Just at the moment I’m gradually working my way through Peter James’ books. Mostly police procedural, but really well plotted.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
That has to be my publisher, Crooked Cat and all of the other Cat authors. They are a wonderful bunch of people who are always there with helpful and useful advice and guidance. And occasionally just to listen when I feel the need to rant!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely! Writing the first book is only ever the beginning on a very long, complex and time-consuming journey. In many respects, the hardest part of the journey begins with the publication of that first, agonised over story.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’m still a little too close to it to properly answer that question at the moment. Come back to me in another 6 months or so.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I’m learning all the time! But to be specific, I needed to do some detailed research for Merle in relation of office IT systems – whilst I’ve used them I’ve never known how they work. Similarly, for a later scene in the book involving a fire. I’m pleased to be able to say that I know some very nice and patient people who are happy to answer my questions.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Wow! I genuinely don’t know, but he would have to be French and he would have to properly fit my description of Jacques.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
I think there are far more experienced writers out there who are able to provide far better advice than I can. All I will say is, just keep trying, you never know, tomorrow it may be your turn.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I am working on book 3, Montbel, and I hope that will be out towards the end of 2018.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Marianne in Chains by Robert Gildea. It’s a detailed look at how the ordinary French people survived the occupation during 1939-45. It’s a fascinating read.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not really but I do remember being about 4 years old and being taken to Foyles in London and being over-awed at the vastness of the place and the thousands and thousands of books. I did eventually choose one, but I don’t know what happened to it and I no longer have it, so I must have read it to destruction.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Wit – really clever wit makes me laugh. A good old romance can make me cry. Man’s injustice to man or animals will always have me reaching for the tissues. I guess I’m just a real big softie at heart!
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I have an ancestor on the 1841 census who was working as a Potboy in a coffee house in London. According to the census he was born ‘out of the parish.’ And, apart from his name and age and where he was working, that’s all I know, so I can’t trace his parents or his siblings. I’d want to sit down with him and quiz him about his family and his life and work.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I think France is my hobby! But I also like to visit art galleries, go to see shows in theatres other than the one in which I work. I like anything historical – so visits to chateaux and museums whilst I’m in France always crop up. And reading – does that count? I’m collector of books and I love to read.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I like a good drama and anything historical. I like documentaries. As for films, I just go and see whatever captures my attention. Tintin, Paddington Bear, Hugo are a few that spring to mind.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Chocolate, blue – just wish I had the eyes to match! Any music with a good sound and if it’s a song, with words that make sense to me.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Even more theatre!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
What a very unusual question! I hope it’s a long time before I need a headstone, but, I’ve had a very interesting and lucky life thus far, so I suppose I would just like the stone to say ‘Thank You.’
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes, I do and any of your readers can find me at the following locations:
Website : www.angelawren.co.uk
Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com
Facebook : Angela Wren
Goodreads : Angela Wren
Twitter : @AngelaWrenAuthr
Contact an author : Angela Wren