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?
Hey there. My name is Petrina Binney, and I’m thirty-something. Thirty-six at the moment, but not without ambition.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Originally, from Croydon, south London, but I’ve been living in the Devonshire countryside for the greater part of my life.
Fiona:A little about yourself (i.e., your education, family life, etc.).
After a handful of years in retail and bar-work, I trained to be an electrician. Pretty early on in my electrical career, something in my back got angry, went ping, and sent me into physiotherapy and stretches every morning. Since then, I have built a home between a chair and a laptop. I like it here.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’m in the process of writing my fourth draft of book three in my series. It will need a little more work before I’m ready to send it to my editor, but I’m really enjoying it.
The first book was an introduction to the characters, the environment, the danger, all that jazz. The second was a good bit darker. Book three is turning out to be rather romantic but it’s still me, so there’s a creepiness in there
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I wrote stories all through my childhood, right the way through to my teenage years. Then, I wrote an awful lot of pretty terrible poetry and later, tried to be a songwriter. As I recall, at one point, I had a crack at writing a sitcom.
I only ever wanted to write. I didn’t really care what it was. There was never anything else that meant as much to me. But, like so many before me, I was told that very few people make it as authors, so there was no point in trying. I wish I hadn’t listened to that.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I hired my editor. I’m not even exaggerating – I was jumping around the room for most of the day when that happened.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I hosted my first dinner party a couple of years ago. I spent much of that day chopping, marinating and cooking, and by the time the guests arrived, I was exhausted.
I’d been a barmaid for about six years at the time, so nobody’s glass emptied at any point during the meal. Including mine. I was quite sozzled by the end of the night. In the midst of a heavy stomach and still a little bit dizzy from the bubbles, I realised – it had gone quite well. I hadn’t poisoned anyone, and they all seemed to get along.
It would have been appalling to host a dinner party where none of the guests liked each other – and that was it. Suddenly, there was a story. It didn’t take too long for my main character to introduce herself, and I’ve been devoted to her ever since.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
It was just going to be called ‘The Dinner Party’ but I had some concerns that someone would pick it up thinking it was some sort of guide to etiquette. Given that it’s a murder-mystery/domestic noir with a lot of sarcasm, lesbians, and serious injuries, that didn’t quite seem to fit.
Having not read a word of it, my partner asked what the book was about. I replied, “Sex, Death & Canapés” and she laughed. That was it. Decided.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I do have a specific writing style. I fall somewhere between lyrical and smutty, but it’s my own voice. For a time, I tried warning people I knew that I was much ruder in written form – that, if they were planning on reading my books, they should be prepared for the difference in me. Apparently, there is no difference.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The scenery is realistic. The books are set in a part of Devon I know quite well. The characters aren’t really based on anyone I know, but they all have echoes of me in them. The humour, emotional baggage and cooking are all from life, but the murders are pure fiction. I promise.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Not at all. So far, I haven’t tried writing in an unfamiliar location, but so long as I have a notepad and a kettle, I think it might be all right. That said, I know the area and the characters, so I don’t really need to go anywhere.
I have had to read rather a lot. There have been quite a few subjects to research. For example, I didn’t know a thing about keeping quails or crime scene investigations when I first started book one.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My friend over at Fantasia Book Cover Designs. I absolutely love my covers and really can’t recommend her highly enough. She’s amazing.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
‘It’s not worth being unhappy’ is probably the central message.
Being a child of the eighties, I grew up watching television, and it seemed to be a theme right the way through that female characters in TV dramas have a set path once they’re over fifty.
The woman over fifty can be: the mother to the grown-up kids, who have their own problems, so she has no time for her own. She can be the titan of industry or a hotshot lawyer, but she has no love life. She can be Grandma, but she can’t have big, operatic emotions. Whatever else she is, she can’t be dangerous. A lot of my characters are in their forties and fifties. They have sex lives, and emotions, and they can be dangerous… because I’m in my mid-thirties, and it’s important to have something to look forward to.
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 love Elliott Downing. He’s brilliant. I read a book of his called ‘Keys To The Kingdom’ and was astonished by the economy of language and the poetry running right through it. It’s a wonderful story, which I’m not going to ruin for you, but I found it really moving.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Most of my family is gone now, but the person who most supported my commitment was my godmother. Now, I don’t pretend she’s an entity, like a major corporation or something, but she did say something that really meant the world to me.
When I told her I was going to go ahead and write something, with the intention of getting published, I thought she might laugh down the phone.
Instead, she said, “I always thought you should do that.”
Now, why she couldn’t have said that in any of the fifteen years when I was blithering about pretending to have something better to do, I don’t know, but it meant an awful lot to me.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Writing can be whatever it needs to be. If someone wants to see it as a career, or a hobby, or everything, that’s what it can be.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I probably would have backed it up onto a memory stick. Instead, I lost four chapters in a power cut.
Live and learn.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I began dabbling in Italian geography and, by the time I finish this draft, I should have a clearer understanding of police procedure.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I have been calling out to the universe for some time to let it happen. I think everyone who writes a book would rather like to see it turn into a film or series. And anyone who knows me knows exactly who my favourite actress is.
*shuffles in seat*I’ve tempted fate rather on lot on this subject. I’ll tell you what: if I get her, I’ll let you know.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Don’t give up. Arguably, there will be people in your life who will speak about practicality and gas bills. These things are important, but there’s nothing to say you can’t keep writing in between other things. You must have something for you, and if it’s writing – don’t give up.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thank you so much for reading. Do tell the world.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I have just joined a book club and this month we’re reading ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ by Heather Morris. I’ve heard it’s amazing. I should receive my copy in the next couple of days.
In the meantime, I’m finishing ‘The Crime Writer’s Guide to Police Practice and Procedure’ by Michael O’Byrne, because – well, there are things I need to know.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I think it was ‘The Lonely, Only Mouse’ by Wendy Smith. I absolutely loved it.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I laugh all the time. Mostly, because I’m usually telling myself a joke inside my head. In terms of crying – movies. Honestly, I rarely get through a film with any kind of emotional arc without crying like a baby. I’m still recovering from ‘Les Miserables’.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
In terms of people I’ve never really known, I had three grandparents who died when I was a baby, or before I was born. I would love to meet any of them.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I run a Movie Night at my local Royal British Legion. We’re a friendly bunch, and have covered all kinds of genres, years, actors, in the seven years since Movie Night started. I have a good memory for trivia, so I often pepper the evenings with little nuggets about films and filmmakers. It makes me quite useful on Quiz Nights. I remember things.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
TV Box sets. I love anything dark, dramatic and funny, so have spent hour upon hour watching ‘American Horror Story’, ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘Damages’, ‘Orphan Black’, ‘Orange is the New Black’, ‘Inside No. 9’ and ‘Murder Most Horrid’.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I love Greek food. I’m a fool for garlic and lemon. My favourite colour is blue, but a warm blue. Music… I’m quite easy to please: Muse, Placebo, Counting Crows or The Dubliners.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Die. Or, more likely, drink heavily and bore everyone to tears with tales of my glory days when I used to write.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Writing, drinking, and tweeting actresses.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Pretty sure she’s dead.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Sure. The blog is at www.binneyblog.wordpress.com
You can also find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PetrinaAuthor/
And Twitter www.twitter.com/wordsofbin/
My Amazon author page is https://amzn.to/2yS7sEX
And here are my book links:
Sex, Death & Canapés
Kindle UK: https://amzn.to/2MXOaXL
Kindle USA: https://amzn.to/2olxxHK
Sex Death & Scallops:
Kindle UK: https://amzn.to/2xdxnXu
Kindle USA: https://amzn.to/2NI8gS2